for stella maxwell individuality is a must, not a maybe
Why walk when you can fly?
Bright eyed and brimming with energy, Stella Maxwell can light up even the darkest of rooms. The daughter of a Northern Irish diplomat, Stella was born in Belgium and spent her childhood travelling the world before finally settling in New Zealand. "Growing up, I was shy and curious but happy and loved," the 24-year-old says. Blessed with aquamarine eyes and pillowy lips, hers is a rare beauty that presents itself once in a blue moon. Yet, surprisingly, modelling was never something she'd considered. "Honestly, I was just a kid being a kid," she insists. "New Zealand is good for that. There was something innocent about growing up there." Stella was still a student when she was scouted while out shopping with a friend. After appearing in British Vogue and Vogue Japan, she made her catwalk debut for Jeremy Scott's spring/summer 14 show. "Stella came to me for a go see a few years back and I just fell in love with her," Jeremy recalls. "Being the first designer to have her walk in a show I didn't have a lot to go on; it was just instinct." But why walk when you can fly? In 2014, Stella gained her wings and ascended to fashion heaven as a Victoria's Secret Angel. "Being an angel is such an awesome life experience," she says. Over the years, countless feminist think pieces have been dedicated to the politics of nudity and the objectification of young women within fashion, particularly in relation to modelling for Victoria's Secret. But far from conforming to society's idea of woman-as-object or playing to the male desire, Stella exudes a new kind of empowered sexiness, one that is incredibly female. "My favourite thing about modelling is being able to express myself," she reflects. Indeed, along with Hailey Baldwin, and Bella and Gigi Hadid, Stella belongs to a new category of model: one that oozes confidence, is proud of their healthy body, and isn't afraid to express their sexuality. "It's not a put on," insists Jeremy. "She has that natural sexuality harking back to Marilyn Monroe and the sex goddesses of the silver screen."
But of course, the life of a top model isn't all bright lights and blue steels. "The biggest misconception is that it's easy and always glamorous," Stella says. A quick scroll through her Instagram, however, and it paints a very different picture. To her 1.4 million followers, Stella's life looks like a fairy tale; late night games of Twister with Miley Cyrus, with whom she was famously caught kissing last summer, pool parties with Barbara Palvin, and Christmas with Lily-Rose Depp. Yet, surprisingly, for someone so young she's got her head firmly screwed on. Currently model of the moment (she's part of the Balmain Army, the Insta girl crew, Karl's cool kids and Versace's vanguard of glamazons) this season she walked for Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Balmain, Versace, Moschino and Tommy Hilfiger, and judging by her cryptic hashtags, she's got some pretty exciting projects in the pipeline too. So what does the future hold? "My hopes and dreams, as an individual on this earth, are that we respect our planet and respect each other," Stella says. "We need to learn from each other and the past and apply this understanding to future decisions." Brains as well as beauty.
Text Tish Weinstock
Photography Matt Jones
Styling Debra Watson
Hair Italo Gregorio at Bryan Bantry.
Make-up Maria Seccia for mariaseccia.com
Model Stella Maxwell at The Lions.
Stella wears top vintage stylist's own.