Joan Smalls




The prefix “super-” demands a degree of credibility. “Superfood”, for instance, harbours an assumption that a team of scientists spent years verifying that kale could solve all of your life problems, when in reality, you would have to eat at least a kilogram of goji berries before you reap its vitamin C benefits, which would subsequently send your blood sugar through the roof. While cacao powder’s “super-” status can be blamed on marketing smarts, “supermodels” are a bit of a different story. A self-proclaimed supermodel has absolutely no PR value, aside from the fact that one would dare knighting themselves before Condé Nast did. Granted, the term itself has evolved significantly since The Trinity – most likely a byproduct of the rise of social media stars and the dive in the quality of journalism in the digital age (whether or not these are correlated is yet to be determined).

Today, one might say that models are categorised (in some loose hierarchy) as social media models, e-commerce models, show circuit models, Sports Illustrated and/or Victoria’s Secret models, and supermodels.

Joan Smalls is a supermodel. This is not just about the number of famous friends you have, the number of adoring fans who trail you on the street or on Instagram, the number of photographers falling over themselves to shoot you. I’ve said a thousand times that great models are difficult to come by – girls who know how to move, girls who know about the technicalities of the lighting and set constructions that go on around them, girls who know the difference between fabrics and the target audience of the brands and clothes they’re working with, girls who check their look before walking in front of the lens to calculate  poses that will best flatter the garments without forgoing their own character, girls who respect the work of the team around them. Not just a pretty face, and essentially, any photographer and stylist’s dream girl to work with.

Joan and I busted out these shots in the space of two hours amongst Sydney’s high-rises on the David Jones store rooftop that I never knew existed. Most of the industry wouldn’t expect to be able to work with a model of Joan’s stature at the lightning speed we flew through our looks. She’d already been working for







Margaret-Zhang-Joan-Smalls-Studio-W-David-Jones-Alexander Wang-Celine

five hours before she arrived on set, and had another five of Studio W interviews to smash out after our session. And yet, she could not have been more professional and down to earth about it.

Needless to say, we’re super proud of the finished product.

See the full story at David Jones and Harper’s BAZAAR Australia.


LOOK 1: Studio W Long Sleeve Dipped Hem Blouse and Textured Crop Pants – Dion Lee Bias Weave Dress

LOOK 2: Studio W Satin Panel Blazer – Strateas Carlucci Long Shirt – Dion Lee Silk Satin Apron SkirtStudio W Leather Court Shoes

LOOK 3: Helmut Lang Crochet Knit PulloverStudio W Viscose Linen Jacket and Leather Court Shoes ELLERY Pow Skirt

LOOK 4: Céline Striped ShirtChristopher Esber Bandana Bandeau Tapestry Stripe Top Studio W Striped Culottes

LOOK 5: Céline TopAlexander Wang Knit Dress – Studio W Textured Crop Pants 

LOOK 5: Studio W Trench Coat – Adidas Sneakers

David JonesAmber Sceats and Joan’s own jewellery throughout

MODEL // Joan Smalls @ IMG


MAKE-UP // Max May @ DLM

HAIR // Michele McQuillan @ MAP Ltd

ASSISTANTS // Nicole Cooper and Nicol Mouton


  • fixatedfaiyaz

    Absolutely stunning images! They totally have your mark of photography and styling. So amazing to see how you’ve been able to develop your own signature vibe. Enjoyed reading your write up as well. Thank heavens you aren’t part of the dive in journalism in recent years.


  • mcboodles

    That settles it, less goji berries, more time on rooftops for me!

  • Bronwyn

    To be honest, I’ve never read your blog (mostly because I’m ogling over your Instagram feed) most of the ‘super’ bloggers now have a team working for them editing etc. but I could appreciate how beautifully you’ve created this is. Having a blog myself I’m so critical of my work & don’t understand how girls could not care less about the written part of it all. Your article is well thought out and I love the ease I could read it with. Definitely permanently bookmarked. Love!

    • Glad you enjoyed the piece, Bronwyn! Hope to see you around here more often X Marg

  • AvantiGarde

    Stunning imagery and brilliant writing! You never disappoint.


  • she really is the most beautiful model !

  • Amazing work as always.

  • Great post!

    Your daily inspiration and motivation on

  • What a privilege to be able to work with Joan Smalls, but then again you’re just as amazing so it’s a mutual privilege. These photos are nothing short of amazing! And your article is always a fascinating read <3

  • Always love John Smalls! Can’t get enough of these photos<3

    Shall We Sasa

  • Truly enjoyed reading about Joan and how down to earth she is. It definitely looked like it would’ve taken longer than just 2 hours! And I’ve never seen a rooftop shoot in Sydney, so thanks for sharing! :) X

  • Shivan Patel (Gathum)

    Truly enjoyed this visually and intellectually. I have started out in a similar direction. Hope to working with you soon!

    I tried a look inspired by you. a pant/suit/skirt look :)

  • March and May

    So gorgeous. Great job Margaret! Amazing editorial.

    March and May

  • Vanessa

    David Jones/Studio W/whoever is responsible for this is super smart to get you on board with this – really like how it’s not so in your face branded!

    • High Heels and Cigarettes Blog


      So sick of all those instagirls and those bloggers who just do “guys buy this” posts. This is so much easier on the eye!

  • Stunning as per usual Marg, and love that your blog maintains it’s amazing journalistic quality admist all of the “micro” blogging and journalism that has become the norm in recent years. While on the topic of quality versus quantity, I would love to hear your thoughts about the rise of ethical/fair trade fashion. I just posted a new post about it here, would love to get your thoughts. xoxo

  • Pia

    Wow these photos are incredible!

  • Yobella Gabriel

    Wow! You get to snap Joan Smalls?! She’s very stunning and you are too. Love the shots! <3


  • Such amazing photos shoot, your career level is just getting higher and higher, shooting so many super models. You are so awesome!!


  • her white dress is amazing!

  • Love this rooftop shooting !

  • From Luxe With Love

    This post is amazing! Just stunning and so well written x

  • I really love how the color unity in the clothes and backdrop tie the high fashion pieces in together with the otherwise contrasting construction/grunge architectural aspects at the back. It’s always amazing seeing how you play with very different elements in all your shoots and yet your photography retains the touch that is so recognizably you.


  • viktoria

    so amazing photos!

  • Sasha Mei

    Absolutely love the photography. So much power and influence from such a fantastic woman.

  • Amazing photos :)

  • mc

    love them all !

  • Honey

    Your way of writing is so captivating! I swear I always have to read your full post then I go back and look at your photos! Lovely

  • jovana citic

    Joan is my muse. She’s exotic and has an amazing personality. Love the photos

  • Hey Margaret,
    Usually people ask you about your photography skills but obviously your are also a really good writer! So my question is: how do start writing a text? How do you approach?
    Thx for sharing these pics.

  • Wow, this is amazing. I would have liked to see some photos where perhaps joan was not always in the center of the frame, but you really captured her beauty in a really intriguing way. Great job.

    Duty Free Dame

  • Captivating photos!

  • Hanna dos Santos

    Please, do a course and teach us all how to photograph!!!! Absolutely loved this post!

  • I love the way you describe and define the ‘supermodel’. Thinking about memorising the description and throwing it at those who try to reduce them to pretty faces. They clearly didn’t achieve that status by just being pretty. Kinda draws parallels to people’s view of the fashion industry as a whole, which I talk about in my article below :)

  • Belle melange
  • Veena

    These pictures are powerful and clearly justify her high position in the modeling world. Love the article!

    ♡ veena |
    twitter/instagram: @veenamccoole

  • Great looks, amazing photography and interesting content! A little behind-the-scenes detail is always a great idea!

  • Oh, God Joan is stunning and the styling is perfection. But what I most love is quality of the whole post – from writing to photography. When I first started blogging I was never into quality all I wanted was to get popular I guess. But when I discovered your blog and start reading it I realize that I want more from me. When I saw your path and your skills I realize that this is the kind of digital media I want to create. So thank you for being such a great inspirational figure.
    Can’t wait for another post.


  • adeorite

    Hi.Just wanted to ask what camera you used to shoot and what you used to edit

  • adeorite

    I’d please like to know how you started blogging

  • adeorite

    I love THIS PIECE …

  • Ajoke

    Hello Margaret,
    I generally love your works. I first saw you on fashion bloggers and instantly loved your style.
    So, i was assigned to write a post inspired by a comment i have made concerning any blogpost in the past. The idea is to inspire us to expand a comment and evolve it into a post. Prior to this, i had never commented on your blog but i wrote my piece entirely inspired by you. Please take a little time to read it and tell me what you think. The link is provided below.
    Thanks. Cheers to you.

  • Love these photos, absolutely amazing :)

  • Beautiful! Your posts are always so well put together!

  • Katie Appleyard

    Gorgeous gorgeous photos Margaret

  • Alanda Ware

    Incredible photography. Love coming to your blog to read and look at such amazing work!


  • Lovey Fleming

    This is an incredible shoot! You are so talented in a million ways. Inspired~



Margaret Zhang 章凝 is an Australian-born-Chinese filmmaker, photographer, consultant and writer based between New York and Shanghai. Since establishing her website in 2009, Zhang has gone on to work with global brands including CHANEL, Swarovski, YEEZY, Bulgari, Gucci, MATCHES, Under Armour, and Louis Vuitton in a wide range of capacities both in front of and behind the camera, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Zhang’s directing, photography, and styling has been employed by the likes of VOGUE, L’Officiel, Harper’s BAZAAR, NOWNESS, and ELLE internationally. She has been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30 and TimeOut’s 40Under40, and her work has been recognized as shaping the international fashion industry by the Business of Fashion BoF500 Index for four consecutive years. CNN has identified Zhang as a leading fashion photographer in Asia and ELLE named her the region’s most influential digital voice. She went on to be the first Asian face to cover ELLE Australia. In 2016, she co-founded BACKGROUND, a global consultancy for which she specialises in Western-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Western cultural bridging for a range of luxury, lifestyle, and brand initiatives. In 2017, she exhibited a series of 39 unseen photographic works as a solo show in Sydney, and premiered her first short film – a 15-minute exploration of her visceral relationship with classical music on both performance and abstract planes – to critical acclaim. In 2018, co-curated the first annual FOREFRONT Summit focused on inter-industry problem-solving at all scales of business. From this king summit, Zhang developed FOREFRONT+ – a round table series of candid conversations covering subject matters of universal concern. In 2019, THE FACE Magazine engaged Zhang as Creative-Director-at-Large for Asia for its relaunch. Zhang is currently working on her first feature film.


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