When the diminutive model known as Amina Blue slinks into a pillow factory turned photo studio in Greenpoint, she looks like an intern who might have come to assist on set. She stands 5-foot-one in her Burberry flip-flops, wearing a two-piece sweat suit that’s covered with a subtle python print.
After shaking hands with everyone on the premises, she flops down on the studio’s rec-room-style couch to show the crew photos of her pit bulls. Her four pit bulls — one of whom she estimates is heavier than she is, and all of whom sleep in her bed. She says they’re “relaxed around females, protective around men.” Since she doesn’t have a boyfriend at the moment, it’s not a problem. “I don’t plan on dating anyone anytime soon.”
Blue hasn’t yet ascended to the fame of the similarly christened Lucky Blue, but she has made two important friends in the fashion sphere. After appearing in music videos for artists like Future and 50 Cent, she had an Eliza Doolittle moment — that is, if Eliza wore Yeezys — when her fashion fairy-godfather, Kanye West, selected her as a muse for his Yeezy brand, beginning last year.
Which came a surprise to her. “I didn’t think I had the body or the height to do high fashion,” she says. In addition to her small stature, she’s unusually curvy for a runway model, with a figure that recalls Kim Kardashian’s — as she puts it, “My measurements are ridiculous.”
But West wanted to do something different with his Yeezy debut, which featured an ethnically and physically diverse array of cool young people. On the runway, a domain where five-foot-seven Cara Delevingne has talked about being considered too short, the variety of heights and body types featured in the show was striking, and Blue in particular stood out. She’s gone on to model in his two subsequent shows, serve as a fit model for the brand, and be featured in his zine. “He wanted to bring a different body shape into the fashion industry,” she says.
Her body isn’t the only thing that sets her apart. Blue is covered with tattoos that she doesn’t cover up when modeling: depictions of mermaids on her legs, a tribute to her late brother on her rib cage. They make for a stark contrast with her fragile, doll-like aspect and the Dresden-blue eyes that inspired her moniker (she’s not forthcoming about her real name). She has an ethnically ambiguous look; her father is Pakistani and her mother is German. She’s closer to her mom’s side of the family, since her father’s side is devoutly Muslim, and, she says, “They don’t necessarily agree with the majority of the things that I do,” whether it’s tattoos or provocative poses. But her mom likes all her pictures, she adds.
For designer Virgil Abloh, who works as West’s creative director, “she embodies the new shift away from the so-called ‘perfect model.’ She’s smart and has a strong foundation of principles. I think that’s refreshing.”
Blue’s Instagram feed, which boasts over 300,000 followers, is a sometimes jarring mix of sexy pics of herself in lingerie, swimsuits, and fitted athleisure with occasionally graphic animal-rights content, like images of mistreated livestock in pens. Once a daily bacon consumer, she’s now a staunch vegan, which has limited her ability to take on certain jobs: “I’m not gonna walk around in fur coats, dripped in leather and suede,” she says.
She has a line of vegan shoes in the works, since she considers all the options out there — which fall on the clog end of the spectrum — to be “terrible.” When I mention that Stella McCartney makes some nice ones, she says, “If I could be a second [option], then I would love that.”
One person who was immediately onboard with the vegan thing was Carine Roiteld, who has played the godmother role in her origin story. “I met Amina with Kanye. He introduced me to her,” Roitfeld says; she subsequently handpicked the model she told me is “my new girl” for shoots in CR Fashion Book and a special-edition book, CR Girls, which also featured two of her ongoing muses, Gigi and Bella Hadid. Of Blue’s upcoming vegan collection, she says, “We can’t wait to see it.”
“She, I guess, did her research. All the clothes that she gave me were vegan-friendly, which I was extremely grateful [for], because not many people take that into consideration,” says Blue. “Of course Kanye [uses fur] somewhat in his designs as well. It’s just, people I’d like to work with have the respect of acknowledging that I don’t agree with it. Don’t try to put me in something, because I don’t want to wear it.”
Since being anointed by West and Roitfeld, Blue has traveled to Paris (where she just found a vegan burger spot) and Tokyo. Her life has changed in more concrete ways as well. Notably, she says, “I make a lot more money.” Blue still lives in Williamsburg, where she grew up, but she recently bought a house near Raleigh, North Carolina, which might serve as a fashion escape hatch of sorts.
When she starts to talk about it, her famous eyes take on a dreamy cast. “The people are better there,” she says. “I feel like there’s so much more than apartment buildings and scaffolding and all these things.”
Photos by Christine Hahn; styled by Kyle Luu; hair by Peter Matteliano @ Kate Ryan; makeup by Tiffany Patton; props by Vince Barile; florals by Krista Chou of Khloris New York.