Jill Kortleve isn’t your average model. As one of few plus-size models to have graced some of fashion’s premier houses – Chanel, Fendi and Alexander McQueen among them – Jill is also proud to represent her diverse heritage, which includes Dutch, Surinamese, Indonesian and Indian roots. In this article we’ll look at her journey to stardom as well as any challenges she encountered along the way and her hopes and aspirations for future achievements.
From Amsterdam to Paris
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Kortleve was raised in the Netherlands, and discovered by her best friend who founded The Movement Models agency in Amsterdam. At 18 she began modeling, yet struggled to meet conventional beauty standards that dominated her industry; being told by a number of agencies to lose weight, dye her hair or change her appearance to gain bookings left her feeling vulnerable and uncertain of herself and who she was as an individual. She found herself feeling insecure and unhappy about both her body and identity.
At 25, she decided to embrace her natural curves and features by signing with IMG Models, one of the leading agencies that promote diversity and inclusion in fashion3. Additionally, she changed her name from Jill Megan to Jill Kortleve which honors her Surinamese surname as well as pay respect to her father who died when she was young.
Soon, she caught the attention of some of the industry’s most influential designers and editors who appreciated her distinctive look and personality. She made her runway debut at Alexander McQueen’s spring 2019 show as an exclusive face, before becoming a regular at Chanel where she made history as the first plus-size model to walk their runway for over 10 years! Additionally, she has appeared on multiple covers of Vogue editions from France to Britain to Italy to America to Russia – becoming an icon across borders!
Breaking Barriers and Inspiring Others
Kortleve understands her impact in both fashion and society as a whole, and isn’t afraid to voice it when it comes to issues like body positivity, mental health care and environmental sustainability that concern her. Furthermore, she advocates for more representation of people of color and sizes within fashion media, hoping to help other girls and women who may struggle with self-esteem issues be inspired.
She plans on using her platform to raise awareness and support for causes close to her heart, such as the Surinamese Foundation for Education and Development – which assists children and youth living in Suriname gain access to quality education opportunities – she feels strongly connected to her Surinamese heritage, so wants to give back to the community which helped shape her.
Jill Kortleve is not only a model but also an inspirational figure in the fashion industry. As a trailblazer who challenges stereotypes and norms that have long characterized fashion, she advocates on behalf of those marginalized or silenced within its walls, symbolizing beauty, diversity, and empowerment – Jill is making waves within fashion today!