Joan Smalls Goes Big

Mario Testino directs the model in a short for Mercedes Benz – and we find out who she'd take on a road trip

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Joan Smalls meets Mario Testino to create a short film as the latest of Mercedes-Benz's fashion collaborations, succeeding imagery by Julia Stegner and Nick Knight; Milla Jovovich and Miles Aldridge; Karolina Kurkova, Craig McDean and David James; Jessica Stam and Terry Richardson and Lara Stone and Alex Prager.

It was fun to shoot with Mario Testino. We always have a good time and we are always talking in Spanish. The character was that of a superhero, fearless, empowered and confident in what she wants: her Mercedes

Puerto Rican Smalls comes from a multi-ethnic family of African, Spanish, Taino Indian, Irish and Hindu descent, making her impact as a Givenchy exclusive for Riccardo Tisci's A/W10 haute couture show. Since then, she's cemented her major-league status walking the entire fashion alphabet from Alberta Feretti to Viktor & Rolf and appearing in campaigns for Givenchy, Chanel, Calvin Klein Jeans and Barney's. Dazed Digital caught up with the model, who unveils the new CLS Shooting Brake in the campaign, to talk road trips and superhero character.

Dazed Digital: The campaign sees you taking on a dramatic character. Can you tell us about that?
Joan Smalls:
It was fun to shoot with Mario Testino. We always have a good time and we are always talking in Spanish. The character was that of a superhero, fearless, empowered and confident in what she wants: her Mercedes.

DD: You're driving the CLS Shooting Brake and can take three of your model friends on a journey. Who would you ask?
Joan Smalls:
I would take Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss and Arizona Muse. The conversations would be about everything, mostly things that make us laugh. We would take turns on the stereo so everyone gets to hear what they like. Some Rihanna, SBTRKT and everything else in between.

DD: What's the biggest thing that's happened to Joan Smalls?
Joan Smalls:
So many great things have happened to me that I am super grateful for. The Givenchy exclusive that started my career, shooting with Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, Mert & Marcus; doing the Chanel campaign with Karl Lagerfeld, shooting for Vogue, being on the cover of Vogue Italia and W Magazine...

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