There was Natalia Vodianova, Liya Kebede, (one of few famous black models from the early Aughts—she was the sole woman of color on the cover of Vogue’s September 2004 “biggest issue ever”), Gemma Ward (whose face inspired agencies around the world to sign young women with a similarly otherworldly look), Daria Werbowy (Canadian! ), and Gisele Bündchen.
John brought in a new chief executive, who pivoted advertising strategy to bring in Angelina Jolie as their next model. (Gray’s final shoot was with the photographer Peter Lindbergh. ) This move reflected a larger moment within the fashion industry, with models were featured less and less on covers as celebrities (in the hopes that they would sell more magazines) took their place.
John aimed to create seemed to me like it was inauthentic, totally staged, but somehow greatly intriguing. (Maybe I, a kid on the brink of teenage-hood, living in Oakland, California, just wasn’t their target market. ) The single mysterious woman at the center of it all, appearing again and again, piqued my interest more than any of the scenarios in which she rode ATVs and straddled half-naked men.
In a time when so many different people who looked eerily similar were being cast for fashion photo shoots, Gray emerged, in my eyes, as an outlier.
Lying on the floor of my parents’ living room next to a basket filled with old issues of W, In Style, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar, I’d flip through pages from the books—which were thick and substantial at that time, heavy as a bible for the September and March editions.
Remember those weird azz St. John ads? I can never forget them... https://t.co/UbDDhsDpXS— Maxine (@maxinewally) March 31, 2020