By Julee Wilson
Elle is ringing in the New Year with Joan Smalls!
The glossy has deemed the 25-year-old beauty “the future of fashion,” and we couldn’t agree more. While magazine covers are increasingly reserved for Hollywood starlets, Elle has bucked that trend for its January 2014 issue in favor of featuring the world’s #1 model — and a black one at that!
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This is definitely a big win in terms of diversity, considering the fashion industry has been struggling with a major race problem — an issue that Joan has faced despite her success.
“People hide behind the word aesthetic. They say, ‘Well, it’s just that designer’s aesthetic.’ But when you see 18 seasons in a row and not one single model outside a certain skin color…? There are people in the industry who are advocates, who support diversity. And there are people who do not. I don’t get it,” Joan told Elle. “Beauty is universal. These doors have to open.”
While Elle’s French counterpart is dealing with some Blackface backlash, the American edition of the magazine has been making some major moves when it comes to diversity lately. Aside from ringing in the New Year with Joan, Elle was thefirst major fashion glossy to feature Kerry Washington on the cover.
This marks Joan’s first cover for Elle, but we’re sure it won’t be her last.
During a celebration for the January cover on Tuesday night, editor-in-chief Robbie Myers said, “Joan is an Elle girl in every way — she’s smart, charming, fit and totally in charge of what’s going on in her own life.”
Head on over to Elle.com for the full story and you can pick up the issue when it hits newsstands on December 17.
Check out Joan’s stunning cover and a few snaps from the shoot!