Ellie Goldstein’s unapologetic ownership of her personal authenticity is something rather special. Not only does she live within a space that is true to her every being, but she single-handedly reassures anybody lucky enough to come into contact with her that they too should feel unique — because they are. The 19-year-old British model, who owns her Down syndrome with great pride, exploded onto the international stage and has earned her places on magazine covers, in clothing reserved for only the elite, and on the lips of many as one to watch. But one thing she’s not doing is waiting around for somebody else to give her permission to succeed, as the Essex gal is making her own space. And in doing so, showing us the beauty of disability — one authentic step at a time.
With friends and fans including Paloma Faith and Nicole Scherzinger reposting imagery of her, alongside models that are as familiar with sending her private voice notes of encouragement as they are marching down a NYFW catwalk, it didn’t take long for Goldstein to become hot property.
With cameras pointing and her social media blowing up with the followers piling in, Goldstein isn’t phased one bit. In fact, it somewhat makes her a little more grounded, perhaps in the knowledge that her dream of success isn’t just that of dreams — but now a reality.
And as life found her on the cover of Vogue Italia, Elle Mexico, and Allure, Goldstein’s grown to greater heights by fronting beauty campaigns with top-tier brands like Gucci. But there are really just two things she wants to talk about … enter TikTok dances and a certain pop star by the name of Harry Styles.
“He’s my boyfriend,” Goldstein declares of the British singer as she takes a breath from putting us through our TikTok paces on the studio floor mid-shoot — laced head-to-toe in an exclusive fashion number. Something that’s obscure to us mortals, but a daily occurrence for our star.
With “Watermelon Sugar” making more than one appearance on our studio speaker and the word boyfriend being a repeat offender whenever Mr. Styles is mentioned, the boys and girls around are given their own personal lesson on his brilliance. Naturally, we agree — if not through fear of causing an unwanted argument!
Thankfully Goldstein’s talents are put to work regularly as she switches from look to look, serving it up in a way only she can. It’s almost as if she’s had rather a lot of practice.
“I’m delighted to be everywhere, even on telly and magazines, because I love my disability,” Goldstein starts. “I want to show the world that having Down syndrome doesn’t mean I can’t achieve my dreams. I have those dreams.” And the power Goldstein holds in seizing these public opportunities isn’t lost on her, regardless of how regular it becomes, in a moment of unexpected calm as we’re left in the studio together to celebrate our star.
“I hope that people with disabilities are given their time — and I will never give up on myself,” she tells with a pause of seriousness. “But no matter who you are, be yourself and never give up!”
Here, Goldstein reflects on her historic and groundbreaking journey to global success and recognition, including working with some of the biggest fashion and beauty brands. She also sets out what’s next in her plan for world domination as one of the most inspiring figures within the industry.
Tell me whoEllie Goldstein is in one word…
Cute and naughty.
And cheeky and confident.
You’re definitely cheeky!
(Laughs) Cute and naughty and cheeky and confident. I want four!
Being on the cover of magazines is totally normal to you now. How was shooting your cover story for us?
The shoot was overwhelming and pretty amazing — I loved it! The team was so incredible, especially when I taught them all how to do a TikTok dance. I felt so glamorous in all the lovely outfits and can’t wait to see myself on the cover.
Is this normal now getting dressed up in these clothes?
Yeah, because the clothes are a kind of fun, a bit itchy, but I don’t moan or complain, which is good. (Laughs) But this one with all the feathers on it is the best of them all.
And getting your hair and makeup done by professionals must feel incredible?
Yeah like the hair is all good because it can be styled in a ponytail or like extensions. When I’ve had a shoot, they’ve put on extensions in so it’s bumpy and awesome. The makeup, amazing! I love the lipstick, the mascara, the eyelash curler, and the eyeshadow actually, yeah.
Some people love the fuss, some people don’t. Have you always wanted to be so glam?
YES! I did when I was about 5 years old. My sister used to put me in makeup and different costumes. I love her and she’s the best!
Do you like looking at yourself in photos or can you be quite shy?
I approach it like it’s colorful but awkward. I wanted to get to the point of it because I look at myself and I see me. I’m the one here as the model. When I look back and see it after, it’s so weird because it’s me. WOW! And I’m proud.
Proud is good! And now the world knows who you are…
I think some people know who I am now, yeah. We went to this park and this girl said, “She is a worldwide model, I know her.” My friend at college told me how proud she was and that she missed me a lot. I am proud of the compliments I get.
You said in an interview that you “love lots of attention” — are you a confident person?
I’m confident, excited, proud, and talkative all the time! I love the attention as I want to show everyone that having a disability shouldn’t stop you from achieving your dreams. I’ve always been confident and know what I want in life.
Visibility is key to success but also feeling like we have a place. Did you see people like you growing up?
No. I think it was either when I was 5. I know that people are inclusive in their work and I hope that people with disabilities are given their time — and I will never give up on myself. But no matter who you are, be yourself and never give up! I’m delighted to be everywhere, even on telly and in magazines because I love my disability. I want to show the world that having Down syndrome doesn’t mean I can’t achieve my dreams. I have those dreams in school, in college, and now into my modeling career.
You’ve worked with some incredible brands, including Gucci. What was that like?
Working with Gucci was fabulous because I got to do my own shoot. The day was great, so were the clothes I got to wear. I was shocked to be chosen for the beauty campaign, but also overwhelmed. When I saw the photos in Vogue Italia and then everywhere else, I loved it. I was so proud!
What else is on the wish list of career goals you’d like to achieve in the world of fashion?
I especially like working with others. I would love to be on the cover of Vogue in the future and hopefully work for more big brands in the fashion and beauty world. I want to keep following my dreams and be a world-famous model!
People describe you as a trailblazer. How does that make you feel?
Oh wow. When I hear that, I feel like I just want to go “ahhhhh.” I would say that this is me, but that’s nice. I am so proud that I have made the history books by being the first model with Down syndrome to be booked and featured by such a massive and famous brand like Gucci. I’m known worldwide, it’s just so amazing sometimes. I can’t believe what has happened!
You’ve grown a large following online. What’s your relationship like with Instagram?
Oh yes good, but the one thing that I’m obsessed with is TikTok.
You like TikTok?
OH YEAH! I’m obsessed with it so every day and every night I go on it. I see my TikTok on repeat because it’s a massive and popular app now, but I think it’s good to sing, dance, voiceover, and act out things. I like to post stuff on there of me, but also Instagram is good to talk to my friends and even my agency and management.
And dance is a huge part of your life. Didn’t you perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London?
Yeah, I did and I loved it! I’m so proud of it as dance has always been part of my life since I was 5. I’ve danced in many shows and also at The Royal Opera House in London. Dance makes me feel free and like I can express myself.
How do you stay positive when people online say negative or hurtful remarks?
When I see something on Instagram that’s negative, I block them. I will just block them. I get positive feedback as well, which is great.
So who inspires you?
My mom because she is the best. My dad and my sister who I love so much — I’m obsessed with them! I think my college friend and Marilyn Monroe.
Your lovely mom is here with us today. Tell me about her.
My mom is good. (Laughs) When mum tells me to get into the shower or bath … OK, or I’ll argue. I am well behaved but we do argue a lot about stuff. Mainly the bath, shower and teeth, and getting dressed. Mom is always there when I need her and I cling to her for life. I did when I got my COVID vaccine.
When we see people break through in the industry, exactly as you did, some ask why it hasn’t happened before. So what does representation mean to you?
To me, it means diversity and being myself. To be seen, like me. I’m only me all the time. I think the fashion and beauty industry is now ready for change. I have been accepted and had such lovely positive comments and feedback. It’s a shame it hasn’t really happened before but I think because I am myself and happy and confident. This helped with my career so far. Representation is so important and I inspire others with disabilities to do what they want to do in their lives.
We’ve all been in our houses during lockdown. How have you kept busy?
I watched YouTube and Supernanny. I’ve also watched Vogue Beauty Secrets, which I will be doing my skincare routine on. So TikTok and cutting out pictures of myself, my sister, my family, and my dog. I’ve been at home too long, but I’ve had shoots. I’ve done self-tapes.
What else are you looking forward to this year?
Going to sleep! (Laughs) Birthday, Christmas, go on my phone, call my friends, and I want a Kurt Geiger handbag and a water bottle.
What else is on the wish list of career goals you’d like to achieve?
I especially like working with other people. I just want to keep going strong and I’ve been given lots of great opportunities in the fashion and beauty industry so far. I’d also like to get into acting as I love drama and study this currently at college.