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Breaking the Mould: Lara Stone

By Kames Narayanan

Moncler poncho
 
Hans Neumann
Moncler poncho

It is not until recently that the words “diversity” and “inclusivity” found a place amongst the modelling industry’s notoriously cookie-cutter standards of beauty. The template was a homogeneous gangly, size zero frame and any deviation from this was, for a long time, deemed an anomaly. Going off of these rigorous industry expectations, the half-British, half-Dutch model Lara Stone, whose bust-waist-hip measurements — 34-25-36 inches — essentially translates to a shapely hourglass figure, was inherently built against the widely accepted configuration. Coupled with a prominent gap separating her two front teeth and unusually small feet (too small even for sample size-sized shoes at fashion week!), one would be certain that Stone’s shot at a modelling career would be the luck of the draw. 

Like many supermodel beginnings, Stone owes her initial foray into the industry to a chance encounter with an agent on the Paris Métro while she was on a family vacation. Soon after, she moved to Paris, where she shared an apartment with five others. While, Stone had her leg in the proverbial door, her unconventional built and distinctive beauty left her on the sidelines of the industry for years. In the 90s, a period where the stick skinny figure of the likes of Kate Moss was hero-worshipped, her fuller bust and size four frame had no place.

Hans NeumannMoncler sweater, jacket, trousers and sandals.
Moncler sweater, jacket, trousers and sandals.
Hans NeumannMarc Jacobs shirts, Max Mara blazer, Issey Miyake trousers, Alexander McQueen boots.
Marc Jacobs shirts, Max Mara blazer, Issey Miyake trousers, Alexander McQueen boots.

“Yes, I was very different at that time in comparison to my peers in the industry and my career did not take off until much later,” says the 33-year-old model via an email correspondence. 

Almost a decade into countless casting calls that bore no fruit, Stone’s career finally took an upward turn when she was 22 years old. In 2006, she signed with IMG Models, an internationally acclaimed model management firm. “She had been pigeonholed as this pretty, fresh-faced blonde, but I saw something else,” explains Derek Dayley, who was then a young agent at IMG, in an interview with Vogue magazine in 2009. In the same year, Italian designer Riccardo Tisci, who was then artistic director at Givenchy, cast her in his haute couture show. For Tisci, it was love at first sight and the industry, subsequently fell head over heels for the Dutch model. 

Owing to a greater awareness pertaining to body image amongst designers and photographers alike, Stone’s relatively fuller figure was in vogue. “I have never thought of Lara as fat,” says revered fashion photographer Mario Testino. Echoing a similar fondness, photographer Bruce Weber describes Stone as “big, bad and beautiful”. Her novel look and built, that was once pegged as a downfall, eventually catapulted her to supermodel status. Stone had a face and a body that made an impression and she was remembered.

Hans NeumannGivenchy coat, belt and boots.
Givenchy coat, belt and boots.

“People might recall my Calvin Klein campaign or my prominent gap in my front teeth,” says Stone when asked what calls to mind when people speak of her. 

The Dutch model’s response is a far too modest representation of the laurels she has to her name. Beyond claiming a position as Tisci’s model muse, in 2010, Stone signed a deal with Calvin Klein. Her career trajectory was set in the path of industry supers, like Kate Moss, Christy Turlington and Natalia Vodianova, whose reputations skyrocketed after scoring a deal with the American brand. The brand deals did not end there. In 2013, at 29 years of age, the fair-skinned beauty was named the global spokesmodel of L’Oréal Paris.

“I feel very blessed to have worked with the best of the best within this industry and have been able to form lifelong friendships with so many of these people whom I have admired for years,” says Stone. 

While her career skyrocketed, things in her personal life moved with the ebb and flow of time. Three years into her contract with IMG Models, the model’s incessant travelling and partying sent her on an alcohol bender that eventually led her to check herself into a rehabilitation facility in South Africa. During that time, Stone also gave up smoking. Things in her personal life further took a turn for the turbulent when her five-year marriage to British comedian David Williams ended. She has a five-year old son, Alfred, from that marriage.

Hans NeumannStella McCartney dress, Moncler coat.
Stella McCartney dress, Moncler coat.
Hans NeumannSelf Portrait coat, Moncler sweater, trousers and sandals.
Self Portrait coat, Moncler sweater, trousers and sandals.

Albeit being a regular fixture on the tabloids, Stone is a rather tight-lipped, enigmatic personality. Throughout her career, she has divulged details of her personal life only in a handful of interviews. This clear line can also be observed on the model’s Instagram account (@lara_stone), where any glimpse into her private life is a rarity. The occasional photo of her son is strategically angled to conceal his identity and she even declares herself as a “hater of selfies”, or rather a hater of what can be considered as an intimate, modern day self-portrait in the age of the internet. 

None too enthusiastic to reveal herself to the world, Stone strikes her own balance between being personable and aloof. When asked to reveal her insecurities, she remains coy. “Everyone has insecurities. I do but I’m not telling!” she writes. She does, however, still manage to surprise in her revelation that she “would have also liked to be a kindergarten teacher.”

Hans NeumannCalvin Klein 205W39NYC coat.
Calvin Klein 205W39NYC coat.
Hans NeumannMoncler knit jacket and quilted jacket.
Moncler knit jacket and quilted jacket.

What we do know for sure of Stone is that today, she wears her tumultuous past as a badge of honour. These days, much of her time and energy is channelled towards her son, who sits at the top of her list of priorities. A far stretch from the demanding schedule that once drove the supermodel to rehab, her day-to-day routine has settled into a comparatively mellow humdrum. 

“I do the school run, head to Pilates class or meet my trainer. I could be shooting or travelling. Each day is different!” she says. Again, the supermodel’s response is shrouded in an air of ambiguity. And with her, there is no yield in pressing further. 

“You’ll have to wait and see!” she says, when asked about her upcoming projects. Stone, however, reveals that she has a line in collaboration with purveyors of luxury T-shirts, Majestic Filatures. As with anything to do with Stone, we would bank on time to be the teller.