Ashley Graham’s January V spread bears a striking resemblance to Kim Kardashian’s memorable LOVE feature. Both sets of photos read like a Hitchcockian storyboard — in a world sans Hays Code. Both find their backdrop in temporary lodgings (Kim’s shoot took place at a roadside motel, Ashley’s at the Standard Hotel’s Meatpacking location in New York City). Both show voluptuous beauties sporting bleached brows, bold eye makeup and very little else. Celebrated photographer Steven Klein is nothing if not consistent.
And because this is a Steven Klein shoot, Ashley bares most, if not all. That said, the supermodel never appears weak or vulnerable. “Meet Ashley Graham and it won’t be just her beauty — and her unabashed voluptuousness — that will astound you,” V editor-in-chief Stephen Gan told Refinery29. “She’s got a high-spirited personality to match, too. Combine all of that with her wit and you’ve got a major powerhouse to be reckoned with, like a modern-day Mae West meets Warhol superstar. Steven Klein’s pictures, to me, capture her in all her glory.”
Klein emphasizes Ashley’s larger-than-life personality through his visuals. In one photo, the Balmain-clad beauty hefts her co-star in the air while throwing the camera a combative stare. In another, she gazes stalwartly into the distance-slash-future. (It’s on, 2017) Even in little more than Lane Bryant briefs, a Coco De Mer bra and fishnet tights, Graham still serves superhero vibes thanks to her natural confidence (and lacy Sonia Rykiel cape). The interview that accompanies the feature is just as captivating and raw. In it, the body-positive activist gets candid with her friend Chelsea Handler. Topics (fittingly) range from bravest life moments to the word “boobies.”
“You know, some people think it’s brave to be in front of the camera in lingerie or a swimsuit. But that’s nothing. One of the bravest moments for me was leaving an agent that I had been with for 10 years,” stated Graham on the former topic. “I was agentless for about eight months and it was a very scary time of my life—I had no idea what I was going to do. But I sucked it up and said, Hey, whatever happens, happens. And from out of that time, I gathered a community of women around me and we ended up founding ALDA, a collective of models that embraces this idea that beauty exists without regard to color, size, or any number of categories within our industry rooted in exclusion.”
As for the other issue at hand, while the ANTM judge uses the term “boobies” freely ATM, “I always tell my husband, ‘When we have children, we are going to use the actual word for the private parts. We are going to say vagina, we are going to say penis, we are going to say breasts!’” holds the supermodel. No body- or sexuality-shaming in the Graham house, no sir.
Silliness aside, the real moral here is that Graham will continue to make waves in the fashion (and editorial) world in 2017. “I want to contribute to helping create a world where women can stand up for who they are and express who they want to be,” said Graham of her hopes for her legacy. “I want to be seen as a woman who helped shape an environment that allows women to be unafraid to take risks, because those are the kinds of women that you remember, those are the women you talk about for generations.” Now that’s a resolution.
Take in Graham’s full V debut here.