Spend a few hours with glamazon Ashley Graham and you’ll notice a few things. The first is her face: nothing short of arresting, with serious cheekbones, flawless olive skin, and impossibly full lips. It’s as though Eva Mendes, Cindy Crawford, and Brooke Shields had melded into one woman, and then someone turned up the volume. Everything from her charcoal-rimmed eyes and extra-long eyelashes to her tousled brown hair seems to have been amplified. The second thing is her voice: husky and smooth; like an Oprah or Tyra, she’s a fan of affirmations. “You are bold, you are brilliant, you are beautiful” is a personal mantra. The lingerie model and entrepreneur is prone to deep laughter and public displays of self-assurance. Her Instagram (1.4 million followers) is one barely clad shot after another, whether she’s wearing a lacy black push-up bra or a skimpy bikini. “My life, lately, is naked,” she laughs. Of course, she has the curves and the presence to pull it off. And in spite of her unassailable sex appeal, Graham exudes an approachability that’s put her on the fast track to a one-woman brand. The 28-year-old is perhaps best known for appearing on billboards and buses as part of Lane Bryant’s 2015 “I’m No Angel” campaign, but it’s
38 APRIL 2016 MAXIM
not just high-fashion editorials and major ad coups that have made her a burgeoning household name. This winter Graham launched her eighth col-lection of namesake lingerie for the label Addition Elle, now at Nordstrom and online shops like Bare Necessities; her clothing line for Dressbarn dropped in March, and in May she’ll debut her first collection for the popu-lar online retailer Swimsuitsforall. After 16 years in the fashion industry, Graham is seizing her moment, and she has her sights set on mogul-dom, citing enterprising gazillionaires like Jessica Simpson, Jessica Alba, and former model Kathy Ireland, who made a fortune in home furnishings, as her inspirations. Graham is determined to expand her apparel and accessories lines and plans on developing a fitness program and becoming an author. Yes, she even has visions of taking on the likes of Tyra with her very ownAshley Graham Show. “I know these celebrity entrepreneurs are just people,” she says. “They’ve just been given the right opportunities and have soared with them. And that’s what I’m trying to do.” When she landed a certain major swimsuit cover in February, Graham’s raw reaction at the televised unveiling was emotional and infectious. “I’m gonna take over,” she laughed, gripping the microphone with tears in her eyes.
SHE is CUBA
A photographic chronicle reveals the complicated beauty of a nation reawakened
Text by KEVIN PIRES Photographed by FORMENTO & FORMENTO
/ usband-and-wife photography duo 13J Formento and Richeille Formento, of Formento & Formento, first met on a trip to Cuba in 2005, vowing to return again to capture the arresting mix of decay and desire that they found emblematic of the country. In 2014, they finally got their chance
to record the last days of a rapidly changing post-Fidel Cuba. Their project, She it Cuba, chronicles the country’s aesthetic allure and rich cultural pathos through the faces of some of the island’s most beautiful women. The photographers shared the stories behind their favorite images.
“We shot model Carla Alavarez Alba in the now abandoned Cine Campoamor, a theater founded in 1921 that fell into disuse in the ’60s. As soon as our car left, five police vehicles arrived to arrest our 25-person crew, including Carla. Our producer came over after and told us not to leave our apartment—I downloaded all the files we had and hid them before returning to America.”
In a new documentary, globe-trotting photographer Steven Lyon goes where the wild things are
Text by JOHN ORTVED Photographed by STEVEN LYON
photographer Steven Lyon is probably best known for his cinematic, black-and-white portraits of some of the world’s most exquisite women, who more often than not pose for him wearing nothing more than a provocative pout. As a lensman for top magazines and fashion campaigns, he’s seen enough exotic locations to fill several lifetimes. He also happens to be ridiculously good-looking, in the ruggedly handsome, tattooed kind of way that makes it easier to swallow that he was also once a top male model. First discovered on the streets of Los Angeles by Andy Warhol in the ‘8os, he went on to become the face of Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Trussardi. He posed with Iman, nude, and partied endlessly. Life was good. But it wasn’t until he picked up a camera that things got really interesting: Over the past 20 years, Lyons has traveled the world from his home base in Paris—with supermodel girlfriends like Lara Stone and Edita Vilkeviciute —adding adventurer, documentarian, and now activist to his résumé. One of his favorite destinations became Africa, where he once lived among the nomad Himba tribe. The trip inspired many returns and some lengthy safaris, which ultimately led to his latest project, Something That Matters, a documentary that follows Lyon on a 620-mile trek across the continent. “I told my agents to put everything on hold,” recalls Lyon,
54 APRIL 2016 MAXIM
drinking a beer in his cavernous photo studio in the Mana Contemporary building in Jersey City, flanked by his American Staffordshire terrier, Rudy, “so I could sleep in shit and never shower for four months.” With a potential debut at Sundance in 2017, the film will, he hopes, raise awareness of the plight of endangered African rhinos. “They’ll be the first of the big five who will go extinct,” he says. “There are more elephants killed, but there are also way more of them. In 2010, there were 150 rhinos killed each year; last year it was 2,000: Lyon had never made a documentary before, nor shot wildlife, but he felt that his work in fashion photography over the decades informed his storytelling. “I like my editorials to have an arc,” he explains, “like a screenplay. I don’t want a girl to look sexy, or a couple to look like they want to fuck each other; I want them to actually have that emotion “His new commitment to conservation is keeping him laser-focused on the film, but that isn’t to say Lyon has abandoned his core. “I’ll go back and shoot beautiful women in their underwear in the desert, no problem: he laughs. “I’m proud of the photo work I’ve done. I’ve lived a pretty cool life, done a lot of cool things, but this my chance to do something that matters. Hence the title.” Presented here, a selected anthology of Lyon’s sexiest work (at least, the stuff we could print).
Above: Steven Lyon tracks a white rhino in South Africa’s Tintswalow reserve