You'd think a supermodel would always have designer clothes that fit her for a photo shoot—but then you'd be wrong.
For Ashley Graham, getting to set and finding racks of designer clothes she can wear is hardly the norm. The boundary-breaking size 14 model is certainly no stranger to the fashion industry, with more than two decades of experience and high-profile achievements including a solo cover of American Vogue and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. However, as it turns out, she gets excited when there are simply just options for her to wear in front of the camera—because, in 2021, it's still not always guaranteed. Fortunately, it was the case at her shoot for WSJ. Magazine's newly released Spring Women's Fashion issue.
As the cover star, Graham was dressed to the nines in high-end brands like Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, all pulled together by the stylist for the shoot, Dara Allen. The many options spurred Graham to privately gush to her team over text. "I was actually geeking out in the dressing room," she recalled in a vlog for her YouTube channel. "I was texting my team, like, 'You guys have no idea—it's like high-end designer and I'm fitting into everything and she pulled amazing stuff.'"
As Graham explained, she sometimes has to "squeeze into little knits, little spandex moments," but not this time. "Everything on set that Dara had fit me and it fit me beautifully and I hate that I freaked out about it," she said. "It should just be the norm. It shouldn't be something that I'm so excited that the clothes fit me. The clothes should always be available for girls my size and bigger, so it was just such an awesome shoot to show up and have such beautiful clothes to be styled so gorgeously."
Still, the progress is not yet complete. While there were many options for Graham, Allen had to get creative when it came to working with pants and blazers by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello—which Allen turned into a cascading mini skirt. "YSL would not fit me," Graham said in her vlog. "We know that."
The experience marks a significant shift from just a few years ago when unnamed fashion brands "flatly refused to lend us their clothes" for Graham's 2016 British Vogue cover, then-Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Shulman revealed at the time.
"I was used to it," Graham told WSJ. Magazine. "At this point, my skin is so thick, and I have dealt with...so many people just basically saying, 'We don't have that for her.'"
However, the supermodel sees the rejection in a different light. "All of that has been a building block. We need to be told no, in order to get to the next step," she told the magazine. "I really feel like in so many ways my career and what I'm doing is to change an industry forever."
WSJ. Magazine's Spring Women's Fashion Issue hits newsstands Feb. 13.