These 5 Models Are Revolutionizing the Freckle Movement Across All Skin Tones
Article by Vogue
In any other species, spotted markings are an undercover guise, a way for leopards, speckled frogs, and monarch butterflies to blend into the landscape.
But for five rising models living in the wilds of Paris, Tokyo, and New York, freckles command attention. In an era that prizes individuality above all else, who can resist a pointillistic decoration that is not only unique to the wearer but to the given moment? Freckles catch the spotlight as much as they evolve with it, fading and intensifying with the ebb and flow of the sun.
Photo: Courtesy of Carissa Pinkston
Linking people according to a signature feature has a way of amplifying the differences—in this case, a patchwork of mother tongues, skin tones, and origin stories. But there’s richness in the shared experiences, whether with coming-of-age hang-ups or the fashion world’s embrace. It was just a year ago that Carissa Pinkston, now 19, made her runway debut in Marc Jacobs’s Spring 2018 show, dressed in a mushroom-brown headscarf and a persimmon plaid coat. For Pinkston—born to an African-American pastor and her “first lady of the church” mom in Lancaster, Pennsylvania—her uncharacteristically light skin and smattering of freckles made her an anomaly growing up, an outsider to both black and white peer groups in school. It wasn’t until she moved to New York and made friends with the model Aleece Wilson that she found her footing. “I really do feel like she is my long-lost sister because of the whole freckle thing,” says Pinkston, who dyes her dark hair a twinning shade of auburn—a doppelgänger effect that earned them both an onstage cameo during Rihanna’s Grammy performance this year. “We relate to each other.” After Wilson walked the newcomer into the modeling agency Elite, “they wanted to sign me on the spot,” Pinkston explains. From casting calls to the concrete sidewalks, there’s a refreshing acceptance of idiosyncratic looks. “Not fitting in helped me to fit in here.”
Photographer: Emmanuel Afolabi
Kokie Childers, a 21-year-old senior at St. John’s University in Queens also discovered a newfound audience on Instagram, after getting scouted two years ago for an Afropunk photo portfolio featuring freckled people of color. She owes her cloud of tightly coiled hair and caramel skin to her mother from Suriname and Guyana; her late father—a Californian of European lineage, with red hair in the family—gave her the freckles. “Little kids used to stare at me and whisper, ‘What’s on her face?’ ” recalls Childers, “but I feel like the downsides and the positive sides all play into one.” But even as she embraces her freckles (“I don’t even own foundation and concealer, to be honest”), she has become careful about the sun’s damaging UV rays. “I used to think that because I was black, I didn’t need sunscreen. I’ve realized how important it is to wear SPF.”
Maeva Giani Marshall
Photographer: Herrade Delattre
It’s a defiance that anyone with a statement feature would rightfully echo. Still, Parisian model Maeva Giani Marshall, 23, estimates that she has told the saga of her freckles some 5,000 times—in part because the cause is as dramatic as the effect. In short, after a series of medical complications over the past two years, ranging from a debilitating type of stroke to kidney problems, she wound up on medication that made her ultrasensitive to the sun, resulting in a band of hyperpigmentation. “It’s a raw memory for me,” Marshall says, remembering the disconcerting shift in the mirror and the barbed Instagram comments. “When it’s people rubbing my face to see if it’s makeup, that’s when I get really annoyed.”
But the reaction is far and away positive, and Marshall’s striking complexion helped land her on the Zadig & Voltaire runway in February (along with Jacquemus and Jil Sander); an Adidas campaign alongside Kendall Jenner followed next. That bare speckled canvas also happens to be the right foil to night-out party makeup: glossy lid, full-volume mascara, red lipstick when she feels like it. “I want to be someone who will spread positivity,” even in the face of challenges, the model says. “I have freckles, I have a story, but I don’t want it to make me—because I’ve already made myself.”