Model Jessica Stam: Grand Stam
by Jenny B. Fine
Low-key and beautiful, model Jessica Stam epitomizes the modern ideal of a bankable beauty.
Jessica Stam may possess the requisite attributes of beauty—blonde hair, blue eyes, pouty lips—but there’s nothing ordinary about her.
In the fickle world of fashion, one in which models come and go faster than you can say smile for the camera, Stam has proven herself to be a mainstay since being discovered in a local doughnut shop in her native Canada back in 2001.
Since then, she’s become the darling of photographers such as Steven Meisel and Steven Klein, appeared on multiple Vogue covers (Italian, British and American) and starred in campaigns for every major fashion house, including Dior, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin and Giorgio Armani, among others.
In 2005, Marc Jacobs introduced the Stam bag, which became an instant classic, and in 2007, Forbes listed Stam as the 15th highest-paid model. And if the fashion world has any signs of Stam fatigue, it sure isn’t showing it. The 23-year-old is the face of Fendi for fall 2009, and at press time was gearing up for a packed schedule of fashion shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris. At a time when the style world is searching for bankable, blue-chip beauty that will have resonance with consumers, Jessica Stam is, it seems, a sure thing.
That success has put her in the pantheon of models who often have the prefix “super” attached to their names—a word Stam is quite happy to see applied to someone else, thank you very much. “I don’t really consider myself a supermodel. When I think of supermodels, I think of George Michael music videos, the Nineties, the sorts of stories we’ve all heard,” she says. “I consider myself a working model.”
Despite her time in the trenches, the role is one she continues to relish. “I still love modeling,” Stam says. “Like any career, it has its ups and downs, and there are days when I want to quit and move to an island and days where I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else. I love getting to travel and being put in a new situation every day.”
This summer, Stam has jetted to Shanghai, Sweden and Japan for shoots. Australia, New Zealand and Costa Rica top the list of places she wants to hit. No matter where she is, though, she’s learned to carve out her own space without getting caught up in the fashion frenzy. In Tokyo, she went to Disney World during her down time, while backstage, she can often be found with her nose buried in a book. “When I first started, I couldn’t block out the chaos,” she says. “But now I can and I just go into my own world and read.”
Blasé about her looks in a way only the beautiful can be (“I don’t find it that interesting to look at pictures of myself,” she shrugs. “I actually don’t see most of them unless someone points it out to me”), she’s equally as low-key in her style. “I don’t really follow the obvious trends,” Stam says, citing Rag & Bone, Rick Owens, Lanvin, Chanel and Fendi as favorite designers, along with vintage clothing. And, of course, the Stam bag, of which she owns “four or five” and her mother, one.
Beautywise, her regimen is “pretty clean and basic.” Celebrity facialist Dangene McKay-Bailey tends to her pores, and favorite products include Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, Dior Iconic mascara and black eyeliner from Chanel. Hobnobbing with some of the world’s top hair and makeup artists has its perks, though. Favorite tricks of the trade learned on the job include applying Visine to a pimple to reduce the redness and sucking on an ice cube on the roof of the mouth to de-puff eyes.
Off duty, Stam likes to cook (Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for sautéed peas and prosciutto is a favorite), garden at her house in East Hampton and fly—she recently started taking lessons. “I’ve been up a few times and it’s incredible,” she says. She’s also become an avid supporter of Charity: Water, an organization dedicated to bringing safe drinking water to developing nations. But at heart, Stam is still the working girl she was seven years ago. “I like when it’s a wrap at the end of the day,” she laughs, when asked what gives her a sense of satisfaction. “It makes me feel good when I see the finished product and when I get rebooked for the same campaign or same magazine. It means that I’ve done my job well enough that they want me back.”