Josephine Skriver on LGBTQ+ Advocacy and Being a Rainbow Kid

by Eddie Roche
Josephine Skriver

Model Josephine Skriver is not only a face of Maybelline New York and a Victoria’s Secret Angel, she’s also using her major platform to spread a message of love. The stunner tells all!

What were your summers like growing up?
They were such a big deal, because growing up in Denmark, almost two-thirds of the year it’s dark, so you get three months of sunlight after everybody has been hibernating. Danish summers are so unpredictable — it would be rainy or sunny, but if there was a sliver of sun, it doesn’t matter how cold or hot it was, people would be in T-shirts and shorts in parks barbecuing right away. If we were lucky enough to go on summer vacation, we would take a bus to Lake Como. There was camping around there. Italy was always a big vacation destination for me growing up.

How often do you get back to Denmark to see your family?
I go about four times a year, and I take longer trips during the summer and at Christmas. I’m really lucky. Because I work in Europe, I usually get to stay a day or two and see them. I love Denmark!

Josephine Skriver

(Gilles Bensimon)

MOSCHINO Couture swimsuit; LAGOS KSL diamond drop earrings

Last year, you became a face of Maybelline New York. How did that change things for you?
It has been so fun, because I’ve been the same character for so long. The modeling industry had seen me in a certain way and look. With Maybelline, I get to play and have fun. I become all these different characters. Every day, I show up, and I don’t know what we’re going to go through that day. It has been so much fun seeing how makeup can transform you. Maybelline is so conscious of the world and people around them. It’s been really fun to be part of a brand that is inclusive and understanding. I’m a part of the LGBT+ community myself, and they were the biggest supporter. They asked, “How can we collaborate? How can we support you and what you’re doing?”

What’s your approach to modeling?
I think of modeling as a bit like still-life acting. I give myself a story every day. With Victoria’s Secret, I become the ’90s bombshell I wanted to be for so long. That’s not who I am at home, but it helps me be less shy in front of the camera. It’s almost like Beyoncé playing Sasha Fierce on stage. I am much more introverted, but at work I have learned to jump into it feet first and be like, “Here I am!” But I haven’t named my alter ago yet.

What’s it like seeing photos of yourself in the makeup aisles of drugstores?
No matter how many times I see myself on a billboard or in a drugstore, the drugstore is almost weirder because that is your intimate everyday place. I find myself in CVS so often. I still have to pinch myself. I get texts from my friends saying they see me. It’s really cool.

(Gilles Bensimon)

LA VIE REBECCA TAYLOR denim eyelet jeans in Milk; LAGOS Enso circle drop earrings; Skriver’s own diamond stud earring

You’re also a Victoria’s Secret Angel. What’s your favorite memory of working with the brand?
Growing up, Victoria’s Secret was one of the few things I knew about [in the fashion world]. It was huge. There weren’t many models from my country who were Angels, with the exception of Helena Christensen. The second I found out modeling was in my cards, I knew I wanted to do it. I still pinch myself and think it’s a dream.

I think the craziest thing was the first time I walked down that runway at the VS show with my wings. It just hit me when I walked off the stage, and all of a sudden I was crying. I had never cried from overwhelming happiness before, and it caught me so off guard. I didn’t even know it meant so much to me. The Angels have been so much about sisterhood. I have been given these 10 new friends I didn’t know before, who are all on the same journey. We have a group chat with 10 girls who just get it. I’ve never had sisters before, so they all have different tips and advice.

What was it like working with Gilles Bensimon?
He’s amazing. Working with him gave me a glimpse of the industry that I adored growing up. He brings out the beauty in you that’s raw and natural. He wraps the light around you. He’s super quick but also makes you so comfortable in front of a camera. And he throws out dad jokes all day. He breaks the ice really quickly!

(Gilles Bensimon)

OSCAR DE LA RENTA black taffeta draped one-shoulder dress with train; ANCIENT GREEK Kariatida sandals in Crosta Elephant; LAGOS Signature Caviar diamond drop earrings

You and model Jasmine Tookes share an Instagram account that’s about all things fitness. How did that collaboration come together?
We have known each other since we both started doing shows, but we never really talked. When the Angel thing happened, we started hanging out, and she was super helpful with tips in the gym. One day after work, we were discussing how people think we’re born this way, and we wanted to show young girls that we don’t just look like this when we wake up in the morning. There’s a lot of work behind it. We actually eat! And we work out a lot.

You’re a big LGBT+ advocate. Why is it so important to you?
I grew up as a rainbow kid with two parents who both identify as gay. Obviously, I’ve had my fair share of people who are confused by this and don’t understand. But I was really lucky to grow up in Copenhagen, which is a fairly open-minded place. It’s a city that was okay with gay. Then I came [to America] and I realized that it’s not that simple. There are so many different cultures. The more I traveled, the more I realized that some people didn’t accept this. But I think I did pretty good. I’m okay! I didn’t hear many kids’ voices [from the perspective of having gay parents], and I didn’t know how to not talk about it. I was the one in my family who dragged us to parades. I was the one who made a speech in my school.

My favorite thing is meeting people who want to listen to my story; I really feel like I’ve made an impact. Even people from within the community, there have been so many people who come up to me and say how they never thought they’d want a kid because they didn’t want to put the pain that they went through on that kid. I realized I was [being an activist] equally as much for the community. I was speaking up for the kids, being like, “Hey, be proud!” I was sharing how lucky I was.

(Gilles Bensimon)

BOSS white linen dress; LAGOS Caviar Spark diamond drop earrings

What did you do for WorldPride last month?
I became a Stonewall Inn ambassador two years ago, and they asked me to come on stage at the rally and share my story. They were missing a voice like mine that speaks to kids in the community. I’m trying to claim the phrase “rainbow kid.” It’s a term from Europe, so you don’t hear it much over here. It’s beautiful. It’s not just something pretty to look at. We all belong under it, and anyone can believe that. There was so much love on that stage. Obviously the day of Pride was just a party, which was so much fun.

What are you doing for fun this summer?
My fiancé [musician Alexander DeLeon] and I are traveling, which is one of our biggest passions. I don’t know how to sit still anymore. The industry has ruined me. [Laughs] We’re going to Tonga to snorkel with humpbacks.

Do you go to the Hamptons?
I have, but I usually go to my place in Nashville. I have a different circle of friends there. I have a house in a forest that is full of deer. The other day I jumped out of bed because a raccoon ran into the glass door and I was startled. But it was kind of cool. It’s a good contrast to the craziness of New York!

Josephine Skirver

(Gilles Bensimon)

NORMA KAMALI Marissa gunmetal stud V-neck swimsuit; LAGOS Enso circle drop earrings

When are you getting married?
We are finally starting to plan our wedding, which will be next summer. We decided we wanted to stay engaged for a second and just enjoy each other and that part of life. Now, we’re in the midst of figuring out the location.

What kind of dress will you be wearing?
I am so lucky to have done all these red-carpet gown moments. How am I supposed to top a Met Ball gown? I know I want to wear white. I am debating on the veil, but I think it will make me feel like a bride. I am really struggling with this. You should see my Pinterest!

Read the complete new issue of The Daily Summer below.


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