Shalom Harlow Is Just Happy to Be Here

Photographs by Michael Thompson
Styled by Sara Moonves
Interview by Jenny Comita

Shalom Harlow in a silver dress on the cover of W Magazine's 50th anniversary issue
Shalom Harlow wears a Celine by Hedi Slimane dress; Cartier earrings, necklace, bracelet, and ring.

The 50th Anniversary Issue of W is an all-out supermodel celebration featuring 17 cover stars ranging from the world’s most famous names to women who are well on their way to total fashion domination. See every cover model here and read Jenny Comita’s essay about the evolution of the beauty standards that define the industry here.

Do you remember when you were first considered a supermodel?

Amber [Valletta] and I were originally called the “anti-supermodels,” and then somehow, at some point, we became known as supermodels ourselves. We were the antidote to the traditional supermodels, because we represented a different aesthetic and we were confronting what the beauty norms were at that point: the Richard Avedon super-goddess glamazons.

Louis Vuitton top, sweater, skirt, and sneakers; Cartier earrings and necklace.

What do you consider a career highlight?

Coming back to work for Versace and then the Instagram thing that followed was really a thrill for very personal reasons. I had been on hiatus for eight years. It wasn’t a choice; it was mandated. I got really sick with late-stage Lyme and severe black mold poisoning from a contaminated house in Big Sur that I was living in at the time. The two things happened concurrently. The fact that I made it through and was able to regain my health and strength is quite a substantial accomplishment. Anyone who’s been on set knows it’s like a 12-hour day of being in a nightclub. It’s high stamina, and you’re sprinting through a marathon. So to be able to perform at this level is really a celebration for me. That I can work every day in a healthy body close to my fifth decade—that’s the career highlight.

Valentino jumpsuit.

Fendi dress, bra, briefs, and bag; Cartier earrings, necklace, and bracelet; Celine by Hedi Slimane shoes.


Did you find a different industry when you came back?

Yeah. For better and for worse. When I wasn’t working, that’s when everyone went to digital. Before, we would have maybe 10 or 12 people on set, and now there are 50 or 75. A lot of that is because of the digital content. Some of that is really fun. It gives us more access to a voice. In the past we were like silent film actresses, so to have access to a voice is a different experience. But then, walking down a runway where everyone has their phones up feels not great. The focus is different. And even the afterparties are less fun. People are performing for their cameras rather than actually dancing with each other. Fashion parties used to be fun, but now they’re just promotional opportunities.

Bottega Veneta jacket, pants, and shoes.

Gucci belted dress, tights, and shoes; Cartier bracelets.

Comme des Garçons coat, dress, and socks; Comme des Garçons x Salomon sneakers.

The photographer Michael Thompson is responsible for many of W’s most recognizable images from the 1990s and early aughts. For this issue, he reunited with Shalom Harlow, Amber Valletta, and Christy Turlington Burns for a shoot that embodies his playful, minimalist style and showcases the rebellious spirit that unites all three models.

Senior style editor: Allia Alliata di Montereale. Hair by Eugene Souleiman at Streeters; makeup by James Kaliardos at the Wall Group; manicure by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel Le Vernis at Susan Price NYC. Set design by Set Shop. Shalom Harlow at IMG. Casting by Michelle Lee at Michelle Lee Casting.

Produced by Lola Productions; production manager: Tucker Birbilis; production coordinator: Hannah Westbrook; photo assistants: Shinobu Mochizuki, Sam Kang; digital technician: Roy Beeson; retouching: Timothy Sexton/SelecaoNYC; fashion assistants: Julia McClatchy, India Reed, Natalya Clarke; production assistant: Michael Lighston; hair assistants: Christine Moore, Anastasiia Milyaeva; makeup assistants: Aimi Osada, Cyler Daigle; tailor: Lindsay Wright