We started Monday Muse in 2013 to celebrate the complex beauty and depth of a woman, and to highlight the diverse meanings one can bring to the word feminine. From day one, our brand has believed that having more women in positions of power would result in a more just, more compassionate and stronger society. I like to think that we are designing clothes for and thus honouring clever, smart, assured and empowered women with a little edge, or bite to them.
We are excited to bring back this series to spotlight the inspiring trailblazers who resist with love, overcome with grace, and provoke change with dignity and poise. We want to celebrate all of the women who impact our lives. Our present has never felt more alive or exciting—it is a reflection of that bright future that we will soon witness, a future that is female.
Without further ado, it is with honour that we introduce today’s Monday Muse and dear friend—Ashley Graham. Ashley is a fearless woman with grit, tenacity intelligence, and a beautiful spirit.
We live in a society that upholds a very one-dimensional standard of beauty. With each of her covers — Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Sports Illustrated, and more—Ashley is defying the fashion industry and societal norm, and provoking wide reaching change.
While I’d heard her name over the years, she really struck me when she landed her first cover of Sports Illustrated. She represented change.
“I'm ready for society, Hollywood, the press, magazines, everyone, to just catch up and say, 'These women are just like the women we've been using for so long. Let's just throw them into the mix and stop talking about it.'”—Ashley Graham, 2016.
I’ve been vocal about feminism my whole life, and with the launch of our brand, Ashley was living and representing these ideals. She was a force to be reckoned with, bringing the feminist conversation together with issues about diversity and representation.
Ashley has been on my radar for quite some time, however it wasn’t until September 2016 that I had the pleasure of meeting her when she attended our Spring 2017 show. She tapped me on the shoulder, and she said, thank you. I knew it was for so much more than just a seat at our show—she was thanking me for what was going to come next—a change that we were about to embark on together.
A few months later, our images and words were forever ingrained on the pages of Vogue Magazine. Shot by Inez & Vinoodh for Lane Bryant, we together were fighting the industry to bring widespread change of the beauty standard.
Ever so gracefully, Ashley is challenging the status quo—who she is, what she looks like, who she represents—she fearlessly and passionately challenges tradition. She is unafraid of creating conversation around the often-difficult topics of size, representation, race and privilege. Her ambition, desire and position she now holds is so powerful, yet she continues to act with such humility—building a robust community that paves the way for a new generation and a new mindset.
Ashley Graham serves as a trailblazing model of empowerment for the fashion industry. Her unwavering commitment to size diversity and acceptance on the runway, in campaigns, in editorials and in everyday life has not only inspired us, but also other young girls and models, many of whom are considered the new supers. By being authentically herself, Ashley empowers other women to accept and embrace who they are —she is changing the landscape in the fashion industry and in society every day. While doing all of this, Ashley is also a loyal friend—she shows up with presence, grace, and positive energy, all while being so acutely aware of her own opportunities. Many say Ashley is the next Oprah, another spectacular woman who has been a longtime hero of mine. But I say, let there be an Oprah, and an Ashley too. For now more than ever the world needs more heroines to inspire and lead.
For this, Ashley is our Monday Muse.