Anna Cleveland

The runway royal and modern muse gets passionate about creativity
Reading time 3 minutes

She was introduced into the modelling industry at the tiny age of two, and even walked runways alongside her famous mother Pat Cleveland, the world’s first black supermodel and a muse to designers and photographers. Having fully stepped out of her mother’s shadow, Anna Cleveland has carved out a unique place for herself in the industry. Expressive and strikingly elegant, she is a chameleonic presence equally at home in a duchess satin ballgown as she is in conceptual fashion’s more out-there propositions. Unsurprising then that she’s become a steady favourite among designers and photographers, starring in campaigns for Marc Jacobs, Bottega Veneta and Lanvin and appearing regularly on the pages of fashion’s most-read bibles.


What’s been your most memorable behind-the-scenes moment?

I remember flying to Paris as a child and seeing the last show that Kenzo did before he left the company. I remember being in a circus tent with animals – giraffes, elephants –make-up artists and models dotted in between. What a day! It was an oasis, a real spectacle. I had to pinch myself, it was almost a dream. That moment of beauty is what true fashion is all about.


Name a fashion photograph you wish you’d been in.

Avedon’s iconic shot of Carmen Dell’Orefice jumping onto a Parisian street.

You’ve been illustrated by David Downton. Does fashion illustration deserve a full-on revival?

Sitting with David is always a joy. He has a true understanding of all his subjects and the stories they have to tell. In that way, he is a true historian. He captures the essence of every person he draws often from just a simple conversation, and has a wonderful talent for finding the lightness and humour in a moment. He is magic! Fashion illustration is such an important medium that needs to be exposed to the world, and David is the leader.


You’re a model noted for your flamboyance…

I took a big leap of faith in a time when no one was doing what I was on the runway. I wanted to find a way to take a risk, to elevate and showcase a different sort of beauty. Models are supposed to sell clothes through movement and presence, and that’s why I chose to expand on the designer’s imagination and to tell the audience a story. I always speak with the designer and work closely with them to make sure they are happy. Fashion requires a newness, and I’m here to provide.

What keeps you grounded and sane?

Meditation, yoga, pranayama, eating vegan and hugging a tree in the park.


Complete this statement: A beautiful mind is…

Full of imagination.


What music gets you moving?

Jamiroquai is my all-time favourite!

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