The Ones: FASHION’s September Cover Stars On Modelling’s Highs and Lows

On Stam: Top, $145, CDLP. Pants, $140, Levi’s. On Rocha: Top, $145, CDLP. Pants, $130, Levi’s. On Lăzăreanu:
Top, $145, CDLP. Pants, $140, Levi’s. Boots, price upon request, R13. On Owen: Top, $145, CDLP. Pants, $140, Levi’s.
Boots, price upon request, R13. On Harlow: Top, $145, CDLP. Pants, $140, Levi’s. Boots, $1,295, R13. PHOTOGRAPHY BY GREG SWALES

Watch Canadian supermodels Kirsten Owen, Coco Rocha, Jessica Stam, Irina Lăzăreanu and Winnie Harlow talk about their magnificent careers.

It’s difficult to express how thrilling it was to have Kirsten Owen, Coco Rocha, Jessica Stam, Irina Lăzăreanu and Winnie Harlow together on-set for our September cover shoot. We wanted a powerhouse of Canadian modelling talent for this issue, and we sure got it. At times, I felt like I was watching an elite modern-dance troupe improvise a new work. These women’s body awareness, lack of inhibition, ability to play off one another and understanding of lighting and angles really drove home the difference between “model” and “supermodel.”

RELATED: Introducing FASHION’s September Cover Stars: 5 Iconic Canadian Supermodels 

All except Harlow, who began modelling in 2014, could be considered veterans, having had decades to hone their skills. “Those of us who started 20 or 30 years ago have had a long time and a lot of experience to build our confidence,” declared Lăzăreanu, who grew up in Montreal and was a muse of Karl Lagerfeld’s. “I’m sure that when we first started out, none of us were the models we are today.” Indeed, Rocha admitted that “it has definitely taken years to make it this,” referring to her explosive style of movement that has landed her on approximately 200 magazine covers, from Toronto to Tokyo.

At age 53, Owen is the eldest of the group, and what a privilege to see her in action — there is a powerful force within her that seems to take over when she is in front of the camera, to the point where she is sometimes unrecognizable. And I could hardly take my eyes off of Stam and Harlow — both radiate elegance and beauty whether they are performing on-set or relaxing in a makeup chair.

@fashionmagazine The fab five 🤩 Introducing FASHION’s September 2023 cover stars: Kirsten Owen, Coco Rocha, Jessica Stam, Irina Lăzăreanu and Winnie Harlow 💫 #fashionmagazine #fashiontiktok #magazinephotoshoot #KirstenOwen #CocoRocha #JessicaStam #IrinaLazareanu #WinnieHarlow ♬ original sound – FASHION

It was also revealing to hear Rocha, Stam, Owen and Lăzăreanu reminisce about working together in the aughts and compare their views of their profession to those of some young women today. “Modelling is not ‘how to take a selfie,’” lamented Lăzăreanu, alluding to how anyone with a social media account seems to think they are a model. And then there’s the matter of those who believe they are free to dictate hair, makeup and wardrobe. “I’ll wear whatever I’m told to wear,” Rocha shared. “But girls today will say ‘That doesn’t fit my image.’ They put themselves before the job.”

Of course, the logistics of getting five supers together in a Brooklyn studio were overwhelming and involved flights from as far away as Hawaii, where Stam lives. And I counted 63 pairs of shoes, 40+ pairs of boots, 16 curling irons and flatirons, hundreds of fake nails, wigs and hairpieces and eight jam-packed rolling racks that day.

As I left around 6:30 p.m. to catch my flight home, our cover stars were still going strong, and I told them how much I admired their stamina — I was completely drained, even though I’d done little more than scribble in a notepad and record their interviews.

Watch Canadian supermodels Kirsten, Coco, Stam, Irina and Winnie talk about the highs and lows of modelling, and their magnificent careers, here:

Creative director, video: Greg Swales
Cinematographer: Chevy Tyler
Camera operator: Vanessa Viera
Sound mixer: Braulio Lin
Editor: Leila Lorenz
Creative director, photo: George Antonopolous
Styling by Ashley Galang
Hair by Dimitris Giannetos for Opus Beauty/Sway (Kirsten Owen, Coco Rocha, Jessica Stam and Irina Lăzăreanu) and Dhairius Thomas for Raw Sugar (Winnie Harlow)
Makeup by Soo Park for The Wall Group/Chanel and Yeika
Nails by Nori Yamanaka for See Management/Chanel
Hair assistants: Luca Pagani, Christina “Harley” Beman and Miller Brackett
Makeup assistants: Tsuyoshi Sekimoto and Jayden Ho Pham
Nail assistants: Marie Barokas and Kuniko Inoue
Fashion assistant: Alexis Ayala
Producer: Alexey Galetskiy for AGPNYC
Art direction: Danielle Campbell
Words by Bernadette Morra
Fashion interns: Reinaldo Rivera Nunez, Tess Jameson and Gabby Hannley
Photo assistants: Yolana Leaney, Fracisco Bravo and Shawn McCarney Alviz
Digital technician: Amanda Yanez

Read our full September cover story with Kirsten Owen, Coco Rocha, Jessica Stam, Irina Lăzăreanu and Winnie Harlow here.

A version of this article first appeared in FASHION’s September 2023 issue. Find out more here.

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