Here's the advice that changed everything for her.
Lara Stone
Credit: In a Valentino dress. Photo: Yelena Yemchuk.

Lara Stone has petted wild wolves, made out with a mannequin, and hoisted furniture above her head all for the sake of creating a memorable photo. But just don’t ask her to pose underwater.

“I will squeeze my eyes really tight and puff out my cheeks,” the Dutch model says, recounting one particularly intense underwater bondage-themed shoot. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t do this,’ so the crew let me sort of float on top of the pool.”

Lara Stone
Credit: In Chloé vest, Stephen Jones Millinery hat, and Gaspar gloves. Photo: Yelena Yemchuk

If anyone has earned the right to negotiate new terms on set, it’s Stone. Scouted as an “awkward, pimply, and lanky” 14-year-old during a family holiday in Paris, she spent eight years doing small catalogue jobs before landing her first high-fashion break: an exclusive spot in Givenchy’s fall 2006 couture show (at the special request of Riccardo Tisci, the brand’s creative director at the time).

Lara Stone
Credit: In a Louis Vuitton jumpsuit and blouse and Stephen Jones Millinery headband. Photo: Yelena Yemchuk

Other major houses, like Prada, Versace, and Calvin Klein, were quick to take notice of her icy blond hair, insolent pout, and, of course, signature Botticellian curves. In an era when waifish figures were still dominating the runways, the rising star’s womanly (albeit tall, leggy, and slim) shape was a refreshing change.

But despite all this outward success, there were times when Stone felt uncomfortable in the body that was garnering so much attention.

Lara Stone
Credit: In a Maison Alaïa coat, Berluti hat, and Balenciaga boots. Photo: Yelena Yemchuk

“At first, it seemed everyone was like, ‘Oh, look, she has big boobs,’ ” Stone says. “It felt like a gimmick.” It also didn’t help that nearly all her contemporaries were sample size or smaller. “I was self-conscious about being bigger than everyone else but didn’t want to go on a crazy diet,” she says, reflecting on that period of self-doubt — and some wise words from fellow model Guinevere van Seenus that helped her see it through. “She was like, ‘Just be proud of who you are and how you look and everything will just fall into place.’ And it did,” says Stone.

This advice seems to have stuck. Now 35, Stone says she’s stopped wasting energy worrying about how she may or may not appeal to clients. “I don’t have to work with every single person in this industry to be happy.”

Speaking on the phone from her home in London, Stone certainly sounds content as she describes Alfred, her lively 5-and-a-half-year-old son with her ex-husband, comedian David Walliams. While Alfred is still too young to fully understand what mom does for a living, he’s developed a head for style by proxy.

Lara Stone
Credit: In a Marc Jacobs coat and neck scarf and Wolford tights. Photo: Yelena Yemchuk

“He likes to dress smartly,” says Stone. “For him that means wearing his favorite tie-dyed NASA T-shirt. He’s very much into accessories and will tell me to wear the most sparkly pair of shoes.” Stone, on the other hand, prefers a simple pair of sneakers. Most of the time she’s dressed for “normal mom things”: school drop-offs and pickups, long hikes through her neighborhood park, and building Legos with Alfred. (“He gets big sets every Christmas, but they’re really for me,” she says.)

Lara Stone
Credit: In a Balenciaga coat, Berluti hat, and Balenciaga boots. Photo: Yelena Yemchuk

Although Stone’s schedule these days revolves around being a parent, she remains a regular on some of the industry’s more revered catwalks, including Max Mara and Alexander McQueen last fall.

Something else that hasn’t changed? “I still find runway shows absolutely terrifying,” she admits. “It’s not my favorite thing, having all those people staring at me.”

Luckily, her most captive audience is far less intimidating. “I’m usually in jeans with a topknot, so Alfred loves when I get dressed up for an event,” she says with a laugh. “He goes, ‘Mommy, you look like a princess. You’re beautiful!’ ” We second that, kid.

Styled by James Valeri. Hair: Martin Cullen for Streeters. Makeup: Petros Petrohilos for Streeters. Manicure: Emma Welsh for Frank Agency. Production: Chantelle Shakila Tiagi.