“When I started, I didn’t know I could push myself as far as I have while dealing with my mental health,” says Elsesser, who has been vocal about her demons. “Learning that I could make it through the hard days and still show up to do my job was huge for me. Forget what’s going on in my personal life, I’m going to make sure we get that shot!”
Having spent the previous day shooting with Inez and Vinoodh, the recipe for great editorials is top of mind. Elsesser finds energy in creative partnerships. “The most rewarding work is a result of collaboration,” she says. “A shoot like yesterday’s feels so representative of where we’re all at because we weren’t just posing, we were invited to collaborate and be a part of the decision-making. As models who are defining what is hopefully a continuing moment, doing this story felt different.”
Reaching the point where that level of collaboration is possible is the tricky part, but the camaraderie that exists between the trio has made the process easier. Friendship isn’t easy in the modelling world, where beauties are pitted against each other for a limited number of campaigns and runway spots. “When I first started in this business, I felt incredibly alone. You’re confronting an industry that is largely white and thin-centric, one that doesn’t always see our worth,” says Elsesser. “To be doing this now where I’m supported, and alongside my sisters in the game, is beautiful.”
Growing together also means owning the supermodel title they’ve worked so hard to earn. “I’m always telling other people to own it, to tap into what inspires them and go for the things they want, because they deserve that,” says Lee. “Now I have to take my own advice and that’s a lot.” Still, the reward makes it all worthwhile. “Even if I threw in the towel tomorrow, I’d know I made a difference,” says Elsesser. “No matter what else happens in our lives, we know that in some small corner of the world we’ve changed something and not just for ourselves. How many people get to say that?”
Hair: Lacy Redway. Make-up: Diane Kendal. Nails: Deborah Lippmann. Set design: Jill Nicholls. Production: VLM Productions. Digital artwork: StereoHorse.