“I feel like I’ve been a chameleon the past few months,” says the model Devon Windsor of the dizzying array of gigs that have taken her everywhere from the coast of Sardinia for a German Vogue shoot to the Canary Islands for a Pop editorial. Only a few years ago, the St. Louis native was discovered at a bat mitzvah. After working locally for a bit, she eventually caught the eye of IMG, her current agency. Windsor was never particularly enthralled by fashion as a teen — “I don’t think I picked up a Vogue until I was like 16” — and waited to fully launch her career until she’d graduated from high school. “My parents raised me to put school first and modeling and extracurriculars second,” she says. Plus, “If I didn’t finish high school, I would wonder about that part of my life.”
Windsor’s first experience with the international modeling scene had a mildly sink-or-swim quality. After she graduated, she went to Milan to work. “That was a very drastic, terrifying experience for me. I had to learn how to get around on the metro. I had no friends and didn’t know a soul. I didn’t speak a word of Italian. It was the scariest trip of my life,” Windsor recalls. Upon returning to New York, she encountered another bump in the road. “Originally, when I moved to Milan I had very muscular legs and a bit of a bum on me,” she explains. “When I came back to New York, it was a huge wake-up call because I had never been told my measurements were too big. I was like, ‘What do you mean? I’m healthy. I’m muscular.’” (She also had to tone down her trademark tan a bit, in keeping with the current craze for pallor.) Windsor, who has a slim, athletic build that recalls ‘90s supermodels, stood her ground. “I aspire to be an icon in a womanly, healthy way. I don’t want to be some skinny, gaunt model nobody can relate to,” she says.
Her biggest break came when Prada selected her as an exclusive for its spring 2014 show. Along with the opportunity came a makeover of sorts: They dyed her dark-blonde hair platinum for the show, a color that has since become her signature. “I don’t know if it was the hair, or being in the Prada show, but I [had been] very commercial and became more high fashion,” Windsor recalls of that moment. Her profile accelerated: Casting director Angus Munro named her as “my tip for stardom” to Models.com, and she went on to shoot with Michael Avedon for CR Fashion Book and Sølve Sundsbø for V.
When we speak, Windsor has just finished Couture Week, walking in Jean Paul Gaultier, Elie Saab, and Vionnet, where she found that wearing some of the intricate pieces can be a tad stressful. “You never know if it’s going to rip or something; you just hope it won’t be your fault.”
She’s also getting used to being in the crosshairs of street-style lenses. Post-show, “I always stop and take pictures, because some of the models just run out,” she says, admitting to becoming somewhat neurotic about the process. “I’m a planner. I plan out every outfit before I wear it, because I think it’s an important part of my career to dress the part.” (You’ll find her in a mix of Zara and Topshop with Opening Ceremony and Alex Wang.)
Next up for the model: Fall campaigns for Gaultier and Leonard and editorials for Dior Magazine, Numéro, and W. (She’s contemplating taking acting or cooking classes in her spare time.) And despite the renown that platinum hair has brought her, she admits, “I’m thinking of possibly changing my hair [color], because I’m terrified of going bald.”