The phrase “trailblazer” is one which many have used to explain the breakout supermodel Treasured Lee, and contemplating the milestones she’s achieved since she appeared at Milan Vogue Week in September 2020, it’s simple to see why. Simply this previous 12 months, Lee turned one of many first curve fashions to stroll the Versace runway, was the one curve mannequin within the label’s spring 2021 marketing campaign, and graced the covers of Vogue, British Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. At the newest New York Vogue Week—the primary full-fledged, in-person extravaganza because the begin of the Covid-19 pandemic—she appeared in seven exhibits. That was all earlier than the mannequin arrived on the Met Gala in a glowing silver tailor-made Space robe that borrowed motifs from the braided ponytails and protecting hairstyles she noticed and wore rising up, in her father’s hair salons in her hometown of Atlanta. Impressed by the only a few curve fashions who got here earlier than her (and the even fewer Black curve fashions), Lee has moved the needle on what folks assume a mannequin is “supposed” to appear like. It is a vital triumph that she clearly relishes.
Gucci jacket; Jacquemus skirt; Cartier earrings; Wempe necklace; Rolex watch.
Judy Turner prime, skirt, and arm heaters; Cartier earrings; Wempe necklace; Chanel ring; Giuseppe Zanotti platform sandals.
Six years earlier than you walked in your first vogue present, at Christian Siriano in February 2017, you have been a scholar at Clark Atlanta College, on monitor to turning into an legal professional. Did you develop an curiosity in vogue when you have been there?
I’ve all the time cherished vogue and pictures, and I used to be in Clark’s homecoming vogue present. I cherished being round that power of youngsters who love vogue—placing on their very own manufacturing, making the designs. Even then, it was progressive to have a curve lady within the present. Then I ended up going to an open name for an company with my good friend, and I used to be provided a contract. On the time, I used to be extra involved about getting again to campus for my subsequent class.
What made you determine that modeling was the area within the vogue trade that you simply wished to occupy?
The response of individuals seeing me in sure areas, like at that vogue present—I began to really feel an inspirational power round who I used to be. In highschool, I used to be the homecoming queen. I’ve all the time been a pacesetter, however modeling felt completely different, as a result of it wasn’t nearly scholastics; it was extra about making folks really feel higher by seeing me already feeling good. I actually didn’t faucet into how large that dynamic may very well be till I began to mannequin and noticed the response from individuals who would see me in a retailer window. I did lots of business work once I was in faculty, and ladies would come as much as me and say, “Oh my gosh, I purchased this costume,” or “I purchased this exercise outfit.” African-American girls have been acknowledging me.
Which fashions did you look as much as whenever you have been youthful?
I really like Toccara Jones. She shot with Steven Meisel. She had huge boobs, and I’ve huge boobs, and she or he was Brown—there have been so many various issues that began to connect me to the advocacy portion of being a mannequin. Issues are clearly altering, however the preliminary thought somebody has once they consider a mannequin is somebody actually tall and skinny. Seeing Crystal Renn, seeing Toccara, seeing these curve girls actually break by—it simply made me problem myself to see how far I might take it.
Versace bodysuit, skirt, and headband; Picchiotti bracelet; Gucci platform sandals.
Prada costume, turtleneck, and stole; Wempe bracelet; Giuseppe Zanotti platform sandals.
What does originality imply to you?
Being true to your personal initiatives, your internal counsel. Utilizing and trusting your energy—residing that, talking that, and embracing that. Not having to consider how one thing could also be perceived greater than how true it’s to you. If you’re permitting your self to discover the issues that you really want, all the things you do turns into unique.
Whom do you take into account to be an unique?
Once I consider Black girls, “originality” is the phrase. It’s one thing that’s in our DNA. The contributions to society that Black girls have made are invaluable. I’ve a shirt that claims “Shield Black Ladies,” and it’s a complete motion now. And I’m actually grateful to see that persons are recognizing that, and understanding the ability of Black girls—our resilience, our versatility, our creativity. I’m extremely grateful to be a Black lady.
Who’s your type icon?
My mother and father. Anytime we go anyplace, you’re assured to listen to folks come as much as them to inform them how wonderful they give the impression of being. My dad walks round, and persons are like, “Whoa! Love that hat, these boots, that belt.” With my mother, it’s, “Oh my gosh, you’re so lovely. The place did you get that?” Once I was a child, I cried when my mother wore animal print or purple lipstick. I cried when my dad would put on his Versace button-down open, along with his gold chains and his chest hair. I might climb up and attempt to button his shirt, like, No, I hate it! Now, you can not discover me with out cleavage, not in a purple lip, animal print, and Versace. It’s hilarious.
Do they provide you type recommendation?
Once I dress for a giant occasion, I’ll name. “Dad, what do you consider this?” Or I’ll name my mother. We’re so collaborative. I belief their opinions, as a result of they by no means wish to appear like anybody else on the planet, and I don’t, both.
What was your first main vogue splurge?
Once I was in faculty, I purchased this Balenciaga jacket. That was once I began to purchase seasonally. I known as them “stunt items.” That’s how I began to buy, and that’s my technique to at the present time. That Balenciaga coat was like, I do know it’s actually costly. I don’t care. I want it. That is an funding.
What’s essentially the most prized possession in your closet?
I’ve a leather-based jacket that belonged to my sister, Charisma, who died. It’s an oversize purple, black, and white leather-based jacket, and it has an enormous eight ball on the again.
If you have been a youngster, what was your type like?
I really like coordinating colours. I really like pink. I used to be actually into streetwear in highschool. If it wasn’t Rocawear or Child Phat, Apple Bottoms, Enyce, all of that, it needed to be a set with the identify on it. I began to dabble in make-up. I might generally match my eyelids with my shirt, and I simply had enjoyable. I might undergo phases, but it surely was all the time head-to-toe put collectively. I had a handbag; I accessorized. I truly dressed far more intensely than I do now. That was my Atlanta type.
What would you take into account to be your most unique high quality?
I inform the reality.
Miu Miu prime; Stay the Course of shorts; Wempe necklace and bracelet; Gucci platform sandals.
Proenza Schouler costume; Cartier bracelet and ring; Giuseppe Zanotti sandals.
What’s the one query you’re uninterested in answering?
“How did you turn into so assured?” To me, that query is like, “Wait a minute, how are you so comfortable and going for it? You’re not apprehensive about folks judging you? You’re actually going to maneuver to New York?” It feels such as you’re saying it was so inconceivable to think about it taking place. I believe that query is loaded. One other one is, “How do you’re feeling about being known as ‘plus’?” I don’t actually like answering that, however I proceed to reply it as a result of I do know we’re in a pioneering state of affairs; it’s new.
Take into consideration whenever you’re at your happiest: The place are you, and what are you doing in that situation?
I’m laughing; different persons are laughing; it’s in a wonderful setting. That’s one in all our purest moments—once we’re in a full, lengthy stomach giggle. And I really like music; I’m often singing. I really like the issues that be at liberty and releasing and joyous. Additionally, simply residing my manifestations: that second whenever you assume, Wow, I keep in mind once I was praying for this. Taking that point to savor it like that and to scent these flowers, to look again at how far you’ve come. I really like when it hits me, and I’m identical to, Thank god.
What do you assume the way forward for vogue seems to be like?
We’re going to see extra pivotal modifications within the trade, as a result of folks have a way of fireside now. The style trade goes to need to proceed to be accountable, and interactive with the buyer. Individuals are standing up for themselves and saying no to what’s abusive, suppressive, or oppressive, and issues that aren’t aligned with who we’re. Due to that, I don’t assume that falling again into the identical patterns is feasible. It’s a complete new world, and those who’re going to thrive are those that are going to embrace that authentically, not performatively.
Hair by Nikki Nelms for Maui Moisture at Ice Studios; make-up by Marcelo Gutierrez for Pat McGrath Labs at Ice Studios; manicure by Eri Ishizu for Chanel Le Vernis at Opus Magnificence. Set design by Daniel Horowitz at Jones Administration. Photograph assistants: Alexander Cody Nguyen, Matt Yoscary; vogue assistants: Julia McClatchy, Tori López; set assistant: Nick Kozmin; tailor: Lindsay Wright.