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Shala Monroque: Where Art Meets Fashion

As the freshest face in the see-and-be-seen crowd, Shala Monroque has her hand in art and fashion’s hippest happenings. Meet art’s next big thing. Photographed by Raphael Lugassy. Directed by Robert Rabensteiner.

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You may not have heard of Shala Monroque yet but you will. These days, you’re most likely to find her sitting front row at Fashion Week or hanging out at the hippest gallery openings across the world. Indeed, ever since she showed up at Prada’s spring/summer collection in Paris two years ago wearing one of the designer’s newest looks straight from the runway she’s been called a style icon by New York and the newest It Girl by Town and Country, Harper’s Bazaar, and everyone in between.

Born in St. Lucia, Monroque’s mother brought home magazines from the hotel gift shop she ran for Shala to devour. Inspired by the glossies, it was only a matter of time before she traded the islands for the island of Manhattan. “I really felt like it was where I belonged,” she says of her first experience in the city, when she came for vacation fresh out of high school. “I didn’t come to chase any dream—I was just following this instinct that this was my second home.”

It didn’t take long for that early intuition to prove true. After landing a job as a hostess at Nobu and then Kittichai, things quickly took off. She began dating art baron Larry Gagosian—the world’s premier gallerist—and befriended Russian socialite Dasha Zhukova and designer Miuccia Prada, quickly finding her way among well-heeled aesthetes.

But once she joined Zhukova as the editor at large at Pop magazine, Monroque went from admiring the pages of fashion magazines to curating them…and eventually appearing in them. “[Pop] pretty much thrust me into the world of high fashion,” she says. When Zhukova left Pop in 2010 to help start the provocative art and fashion magazine Garage, she took Monroque along with her and appointed her creative director.

Now, this 33-year-old wears many hats as she bounces from city to city around the world. She blogs at Shala’s Rabbit Hole, is a fixture at art gallery openings, an art consultant, a style icon, an editor, a model for Net-a-Porter, and muse to Prada—doing it all, in fact, without having finished college.

While she’d like to go back to school get a degree in comparative literature, it was author James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces, who once suggested she focus on her budding career instead. “I don’t think he meant to stop educating myself,” she says. Rather, she’s treating the world as her classroom, taking on one fashion show, art gallery, and city at a time. —Sasha Levine (@sashalevine)

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