Oyster #99: Shalom Harlow Shot By Cass Bird

Styled and interviewed by Stevie Dance.

Shalom Harlow is one of the original ‘Supers’, the legendary group of models that dominated fashion in the nineties. Famously discovered at a Cure concert, she has been the face of Versace and Chanel, walked countless catwalks, and is as much of a dream in real life as she is in front of the camera.

Stevie Dance: What is the best thing about being a woman?
Shalom Harlow: Sisterhood.

When was the first time you realised the power of being a woman?
Hmmm… The first time I kicked a boy in the balls.

What is your favourite body part?
Oh, I’m in love with my womb right now. It’s my unseen centre.

Which women inspire you, and how?
Oh, wow! I’ve always been tremendously inspired by Amelia Earhart, for her sense of adventure. I’ve been inspired by Gloria Steinem; by her absolute brilliance at connecting so many dots on a coherent, cohesive platform. I’m so inspired by Jane Goodall for her all-encompassing nurturing nature … There are so many women that inspire me so much. Pina Bausch inspires me wildly.

What is the most important thing your mother taught you?
How to relate to all beings, including what would be considered by most to be non-sentient beings.

What was the last experience that made you feel an intense sense of female camaraderie, other than our shoot?
Well, it was our shoot. I don’t know how I could answer differently than that, because it was…

When do you feel most womanly?
When I just wake and I’m kind of particularly alive, [in a] dreamy state, and I’m in touch with all the metaphors and archetypes from my dream and they’re emerging with my conscious mind. And it’s, like, a Sunday, and I don’t have anything to do, and I can get up and just make a pot of tea and slip into the bathtub.

As a model, do you hope to affect or change the notion of womanhood — and if so, how?
I hope so. I mean, in some small way, I hope that my presence in this industry can be some sort of marker for a different face of ‘the feminine’ — yeah, a varied expression of what ‘feminine’ is — and that I can be a piece of that.

Thank you for being a part of this issue.
No, thank you for your time. I don’t know if you want to print this — you’re welcome to print this or not — but I feel honoured, as a woman, to know that there are thoughtful women out there creating this dialogue and creating this platform [so] that we can all see true reflections of ourselves … I think so much of what we see in the outer world right now as reflections of the ‘feminine face’ isn’t actually created by women.

Photography: CASS BIRD
Photographic Assistants: DIANE RUSSO and ERIK SNYDER
Digital Operator: RYAN DUE
Retouching: 4C Imaging
Special thanks to Chuck at ColorOne for scanning.