Emily Ratajkowski may be famous for her supernatural sex appeal, but her fiercest asset doesn’t fit into a bikini
by CHRISTOPHER BAGLEY photographed by CARTER SMITH
“The main criticism that I get is ‘Aren’t you just conforming to a patriarchal standard of beauty?’” she says. “Well, this is just the body I was given. I didn’t do anything to it—it’s just my body. But even if I had altered it, that would be fine too.” Ratajkowski recently found herself arguing with friends over whether Caitlyn Jenner was setting a bad example by being so focused on her outfits and her nails.
“She’s allowed to do that—it’s her choice. If she decides she wants to be a super-femme who’s all about the clothes, great. She can conform to that gender identity all she wants because it’s a personal decision.” Applying that same standard to everyone, Ratajkowski says, “is a way of including all women and also saying that no matter what the circumstances, it’s up to them how they want to be a woman.”
That includes Jenner’s stepdaughter Kim Kardashian West, whom Ratajkowski rallied behind last spring after Piers Morgan publicly trashed her for posting a nude selfie as a 36-year-old mom. “Her body, her career,” Ratajkowski retorted in a tweet, calling Morgan’s comment “sexist bulls—.”
Later the two women ran into each other—at a Justin Bieber concert, no less—and took an Internet-busting shot of themselves together in the bathroom, topless and flipping the bird. Another public flap arose in December, when photographer Jonathan Leder announced the upcoming publication of some nudes that he had shot of Ratajkowski back in 2012.
“So I used Twitter to reinforce an idea that I’ve believed in forever,” she says, “which is that it’s up to me to choose when and how I want to share my sexuality.” It was no accident that she posted a particularly revealing photo on Instagram a few days later. “Of course, a bunch of the headlines were like, ‘Emily complains about nude photos and then posts her own sexy selfie.’ And I was like, ‘That’s exactly my point! The difference is, it’s my decision to post that.’ ”
Lycra bodysuit. Chanel cotton voile and silk dress (styled as jacket) and resin, strass, polyester, and metal bracelets (left wrist). Altuzarra nylon tights. Louis Vuitton brass or brass and lead glass earrings. Canturi diamond and 18kt pink or white gold bracelets.
“It’s up to me to choose when and how I want to share my sexuality.”
As comfortable as she is on camera, naked or clothed, Ratajkowski says her modeling gigs in the world of high fashion initially unearthed some insecurities. “I come from such a middle-class background, so it was intimidating to be all of a sudden around really fancy, snobby people,” she says. “I mean, I’ve always loved aesthetics and fashion design, but I didn’t feel super-connected to the grandeur of it all.”
Her next film releases are two indies: Anthony Byrne’s In Darkness, a thriller shot in London, and Robert Siegel’s Cruise, a romance set in ’80s suburbia. Swanberg thinks Ratajkowski is naturally suited to unique, unusual projects and not just to the big prestige movies that seemingly every actress goes for. In her career as well as in her life, Swanberg says, “Emily knows exactly what she’s doing. As long as she keeps making her own choices, she’s going to be fine.”
Marc Jacobs sequined minidress. DSquared2 brass earrings.
Ratajkowski’s Los Angeles home is in the Arts District, east of downtown—a creative hub she calls “fake New York,” which she says she prefers to the real one (as well as to L.A.’s West Side, with its Hollywood conventions and pretensions). “My friends are not in the industry—they’re young artists or knitwear designers or whatever,” she says. Her boyfriend, Jeff Magid, a musician who studied philosophy at Brown University, jokes to her that when he moved out west a few years ago he was eager to chill out in the land of carefree optimists but somehow he ended up with the dark, intense Ratajkowski—“the one cynical Californian.”
Ratajkowski has been happily involved with Magid for almost three years. She extols his all-around awesomeness to me, but it’s probably no accident that his picture hardly ever turns up on her Instagram. The day after our December interview, I check what @emrata is up to, and there’s a new shot of Ratajkowski vamping in a Santa hat while plugging the holiday items that she has for sale on the Depop app. The photo had 422,359 likes at last count.
Max Mara nylon jacket, cotton bralette, and nylon pants. Jennifer Fisher brass earrings, necklace, ring (right hand, index finger), and cuffs. Right hand: Spinelli Kilcollin diamond, sterling silver, and 18kt gold three-link ring. Left hand: Spinelli Kilcollin diamond, 18kt rose gold, and 18kt yellow gold index-finger ring. Alison Lou 14kt gold rings with rubies or diamonds and enamel.