Precious Lee

Precious Lee

by Melissa Magsaysay

The model and advocate’s cool confidence and creative spirit are totally infectious.

“I’ve always been confident. People can see I feel good on the inside and accepting of who I am and I’m having fun with it. I am more than ok with who I am, I’m happy about it.”
-Precious Lee

When chatting with Precious Lee, one can’t help but smile the entire way through the conversation. It’s partly because yes, the model is positive and confident in a way that would enlighten even the down-est Debbie Downer around. Also, her naturally creative spirit is evident in everything she does. From her ensembles (she claims to be feeling a pastel situation right now, but her closet ranges from sequins and leopard to sheer), to major ad campaigns for Lane Bryant and groundbreaking editorials for Sports Illustrated, Vogue and Paper, where her cropped hair and enviable pout have graced the pages, Lee brings her lifelong love of advocacy, creative expression and drive to empower along with her.

The model was on her way to law school after graduating from Clark Atlanta University in her hometown of Atlanta, but after being scouted and offered a modeling contract, she put law on hold to move to New York. Her talent to connect to people and be a voice and advocate for diversity have not diminished despite not having pursued law, in fact they are stronger than ever, as Lee has used her voice and image to help ignite further change within the fashion industry.

She’s also just good fun, with a personality that leaves no question as to why she was popular through school, a cheerleader and homecoming queen who was and still is, whip smart.

Here, Lee shares thoughts on her personal style and being a pioneer in the fashion industry.

Plus Size Designer Fashion Leesa Evans
Precious Lee for Galore Mag

“I really feel the point of fashion is to be an expression of who you are. You can decide to have a certain standard for fit, but it’s important to express yourself.”

Plus Size Designer Fashion Leesa Evans
Model Precious Lee

Q & A With Precious

Do you have a personal style mantra?

It’s whatever feels good to me at that moment. I buy what I like and that doesn’t have to be from a certain designer - I have hats and earrings from beauty supply stores! It’s all about feeling your own vibe, whether that’s Goth, glamorous or grunge, you’ve got to just really go for it. Right now have on a lavender sweat suit, a pink mesh top and tan patent leather boots. I’m really into this whole pastel situation right now. Tomorrow could be a black out moment again. For example, my closet is hilarious: it goes from sequins to leopard to sheer and black. I really feel the point of fashion is to be an expression of who you are. You can decide to have a certain standard for fit, but it’s important to express yourself.

Do you think the fashion industry has come far enough in terms of serving curvy women?

I think there are some designers out there making larger sizes that women may not know about or know they can wear. It’s not that accessible and that’s interesting to me. Designers will make it happen, but it should be more accessible and affordable. What these women want is more attention to their needs. It’s an area where there is so much money to be made and so many spirits to be lifted.

If you go into a store, the first things you see gone off the rack are the larger sizes. The stuff that’s left are sizes 0, 2, 4 and 6. Is it just that store? Or how they’re buying? Whatever it is, the larger sizes are always gone first.

What has been the highlight of your modeling career thus far?

I’ve had a bunch of highlights from Sports Illustrated to Vogue, to being on the side of a building on Sunset Boulevard. Those are all things I’m super, super proud of that, but they can’t replace the feeling of getting messages from young girls. I’m such a people person. I’m private but very into connecting with people. Everybody can offer something. I don’t ever take for granted those direct messages or Facebook messages. When I’m on the street, I always take the time to look the people coming up to me in the eye.

For me, I’ve always been chunky. I was the chunkiest cheerleader, a chunky homecoming queen, but I was always smart and social. I’ve always been confident. People can see that I feel good on the inside and accepting of who I am and I’m having fun with it. I am more than ok with who I am, I’m happy about it.

What are the challenges you’ve faced in this industry?

For me personally a struggle I have is how people were shocked that I was well dressed. I’ve always been into fashion. My sister was a model, my father was a hairstylist and my grandmother had a boutique. I always had a personal style that was out there.

I know a lot of curvy girls that are fashion forward, who at size 18, 20 or 24 can put outfit together better than a lot of people can. To be who I am now and be a part of the industry, it’s difficult for me to see that we can be viewed as not being fashion forward.

You walked in a few shows during New York Fashion Week, do you think the runway has made a true shift or is there a lot more work to do?

I would love to see more designers be more willing, like Christian (Siriano). The fact of the matter is, it works. If everything is supposed to be an expression of one’s self, what’s more unique than seeing a size 14-16 girl in a high fashion ad or couture show? Between Edition Elle and Dia & Co, it’s so interesting to see everything that’s going on in the world. Designers and the entire industry have so much opportunity to uplift people and make them feel good. Women in general are dealing with a lot - can we just get some more clothes?

I’m trying to make a more collaborative environment for models and designers, not to be afraid to have an opinion. I’m also definitely interested in designing my own line. I’ve always been super creative even just with my own outfits. So much of what I want doesn’t exist yet and I would love to be able to be the liaison between high-end designers and the plus world.


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