“I started butt-naked, on top of Prabal,” Ashley Graham said Monday night, grinning alongside the designer. Graham and Gurung were seated at a back table at Claudette in Greenwich Village, where they were hosting a dinner in celebration of their Lane Bryant line — a shoot that, from the sound of it, was quite the show.
“I was butt-ass naked, so I had to make everyone else around me just as comfortable,” the model continued. “I mean, I didn’t even have a thong on that they were touching, because we had to do video. So I was like, ‘Here we go, hold the boobs up! I’m sweating, so put the fan on me.’”
Though a naked photo shoot indicates quite the close relationship, the two are relatively recent friends.
“I met Prabal his last season, and it had just been announced that Lane Bryant was doing the collaboration with him,” Graham said. “And he invited me to the show to sit front row, and custom-made me a dress, and it was one of those moments where…you know, being a curvy woman, this is a new thing. We aren’t invited to new York Fashion Week, we aren’t in New York Fashion Week — so I was having one of those moments. I was sitting next to Olivia…”
“Palermo,” Gurung filled in.
“Palermo,” Graham continued, “and I was like ‘hey girl,’ and after the show finished, and after my jaw hit the floor, I was like, ‘Can he make that in my size?’ everybody had left, and I went back to meet Prabal and all I wanted to do was just have a quick picture and say thank you, and say thank you for doing this for [Lane Bryant]. And we hugged, took a photo on Snapchat, and that was it. And the next thing you know, Lane Bryant is calling me asking me to be part of the campaign, and the next thing after that, I’m literally naked in his arms.”
“Which is really true,” Gurung said.
“I heard he was a ho but I didn’t know…” Graham teased.
“We were really speeding things up — dressing and undressing, all in a day,” the designer retorted.
In addition to the Lane Bryant campaign with Gurung, Graham is having a moment in American fashion: she is on the cover of the March issue of Vogue (which she claimed she shot “on my bad side!”) and just walked the runway of Michael Kors during New York Fashion Week.
“Bella [Hadid] was behind me, and she always gives fierceness on the runway,” Graham said of Kors’ show. “I was like, ‘Bella what do I do?’ because I had a fur on and was sweating my a– off, I had to get there at 6 a.m., the show wasn’t until 10:30…so she said — because you know you get told to kind of walk like a boy. And that means like no hips, no head, just straight. And I was like, ‘Bella I don’t know how to walk like a boy.’ And she was like, ‘Just be yourself.’ And it was a dose of my own medicine. We can sit here and we can talk about love your skin, love who you are, but when you get into that situation and you question yourself…and to have another woman who is a supermodel, who is Bella Hadid, be like, ‘Girl, just do yourself’…I just gave it my all. And I knew Anna Wintour was sitting in the front. I did me.”
If she and Gurung have anything to do with it, she won’t be the only curvy woman known for walking runways — and her fame won’t stop at modeling. “Do you know what would really be my dream come true? Is to see her in some movie like Lara Croft,” Gurung said.
“Yes! Or Zena: Warrior Princess,” Graham added.
“No seriously,” Gurung said. “And also a movie like ‘Blue Jasmine.’ And I would love for her to win the Oscar. It is important. You saw [Sunday night] when ‘Moonlight’ won, when Viola Davis won, when Mahershala Ali won. You just think about America and who watched the Oscars. Perception is shifting.”
So is acting in the cards then for Graham? “I mean, if Prabal says it,” she said. “I’ve been offered roles, and if the role is right for me I will definitely take it, but it’s not something that I’m actively pursuing. The Ashley Graham show is right around the corner, and speaking to women about women’s rights and women’s issues is something that I’m very inspired by. Hopefully I’ll be the Oprah of my generation.”