From Poetry to Vogue Covers, How Paloma Elsesser Became Model of the Year
Paloma Elsesser's journey to being named Model of the Year at the Industry Awards is a remarkable story of a young woman who never aspired to be part of the fashion industry. Here's everything you need to know about the girl who has defied conventions and made a significant impact on the fashion world.

Paloma was born in London but spent her formative years in Los Angeles. When she moved to New York for her studies, her interests were primarily in literature and psychology. Even as a child, Paloma harbored dreams of becoming a poet, with a passion for writing poetry. The world of fashion held no allure for her, and during her university years, she found herself drawn to art parties. In her own words, her aspirations were limited to becoming a DJ, far from posing for glossy magazine covers.

The turning point came when she crossed paths with Pat McGrath, the renowned makeup artist whom Paloma affectionately refers to as her fairy godmother. In 2015, Paloma's style as a future plus-size model left much to be desired: she sported red Timberland boots, a python-colored shirt, and two sweatshirts. She was actively engaged in maintaining her Instagram profile and was involved in organizing tours for her friend, rapper Earl Sweatshirt. One day, she received an email from Pat McGrath, who was launching her cosmetics line and was on the lookout for unique faces. In Pat McGrath's eyes, Paloma was the perfect candidate, despite having thickly lined her eyebrows with a brown pencil and sporting a gold nose piercing at the time. McGrath was captivated by Paloma's refusal to conform to conventional norms and her unwavering authenticity. Paloma enthusiastically accepted the makeup artist's offer.

Describing Paloma, Pat McGrath said, "She's a modern Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, or Rita Hayworth. There's something cinematic about her. I admire her face, body, and mind. She's always full of fun and joy."

Following her appearance in a cosmetics ad campaign, Paloma's star began to rise. Her unconventional appearance landed her on the cover of Wonderland, and collaborations with H&M soon followed. Nike chose her as the face of an underwear advertising campaign, marking the first time they selected a model with a size 50. The brand representatives aimed to show women that sports underwear had applications beyond the gym.

As American Elle dubbed her, the "Muse of Pat McGrath" actively collaborated with Rihanna's brand, Fenty, and graced the covers of Vogue in five different countries. However, her true breakthrough came in the fall when Elsesser became the first plus-size model to walk the runway at Salvatore Ferragamo—an historic moment for the brand. In the same year, Paloma successfully participated in nine fashion shows, a significant achievement for a plus-size model.

Paloma views her newfound fame with a philosophical perspective. She remains uninterested in the media frenzy and is driven by a desire to inspire other women with diverse body shapes through her example. She embraces the responsibility of representing plus-size women who often feel marginalized in the fashion industry.

"Society is realizing that no matter how you look, there's a place for you everywhere. No one likes to be overlooked, and big companies are starting to realize that," Paloma Elsesser said.
February 06, 2024