Jessica Stam: From Model to Designer

She's walked every runway and inspired Marc Jacobs to name a bag after her. Now, the model casts her sights on the design world with a collection for Rachel Roy. PLUS: Jessica's Marie Claire Photo Shoot

There's no way to prepare for the shock of seeing Jessica Stam in person. Her trademark blue eyes are so electric that had she been alive during the Salem witch trials, she most certainly would've burned at the stake. World-famous designers and photographers alike have fallen under her spell. Yet, despite the 24-year-old's supermodel status, Stam is just a down-home girl from a farm in Kincardine, Ontario, the lone female among six rowdy brothers. "We had pigs, cows, and chickens—I hadn't seen a fashion magazine until I started modeling," she laughs. But after being discovered at 15 in a Tim Hortons coffee shop, she couldn't get enough of them. "I was really curious about what the industry was about," she says. "So I started flipping through fashion magazines to find out." Between studying clothes in print and wearing them on the runway, it was only a matter of time before the model would try her hand at design.

In 2008, she teamed up with Repetto shoes to create a signature flat and consulted Rag & Bone on its spring 2010 collection. Both projects were stepping stones to Stam's latest undertaking: five wardrobe essentials created with Rachel Roy for the designer's more affordable RACHEL Rachel Roy line at Macy's. Debuting this month, the collection captures the essence of a cool downtown girl. A chain-strap navy bucket bag and cozy gingham knit cardigan showcase the "nautical meets distressed military" vibe Stam was aiming for. "I had full creative control," she says. "But Rachel really stressed that whatever I made should be something I'd want to see my friends in." Since she has nearly 100,000 (and counting) followers on Twitter, something tells us Stam's close friends won't be the only ones racing to snag her designs. Could this be the launching pad for her own label? "No comment," she answers coyly. We'll go ahead and get our hopes up.