February 02, 2016 06:05 PM

Amber Valletta defined the model BFF squad decades before Kendall Jenner and Cara Delevingne. She was a reigning queen on the 1990s supermodel scene, posing alongside Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and of course her bestie, Shalom Harlow. These days she’s switched her focus to acting, but still lands major fashion spreads. Her latest? The cover of Porter‘s all-women photography issue where she talks about why she prefers working with female photographers and how the industry has changed since she started at 15.

Collie Schorr for PORTER

Having worked with just about every fashion photographer throughout her modeling tenure, she explains why she’ll always prefer a female photographer over a male. “I always feel safe with a woman photographer. I feel that no matter how they interpret something, they understand all sides of it,” Valletta shares in Porter. “Because they are women, and women are complex creatures. Men can appreciate it, but women get it. We internalize everything.”

Collie Schorr for PORTER

 

But she does give the industry credit for embracing all types of different body shapes and ethnicities, more so than when she started.

“Women are really coming into their own. When we look back on this time, we are going to see a real shift… in equality, in pay structure, in running companies, in coding,” she says, adding. “Maybe even in the presidency. Hopefully.”

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Valletta left home to model at 15, and she says looking back, she’s surprised her mom let her go.

“I think she was really naïve. We were naïve, both of us. We were all naïve,” she says. “Everybody’s constantly growing. It’s just whether or not you’re observing it or not, you know? In your 20s you can learn a lot and you can be very smart and clever and savvy. Especially these kids today. They seem like they have it all together. But let’s talk to them again when they’re 40 years old and see really who they are. Is it who they thought they were at 25?”

Collie Schorr for PORTER

 

Now that her early career days are behind her, Valletta adds that turning 40 marked a major milestone in her life.

“I feel so much more aware of who I am today as a woman since I turned 40,” she explains. “I don’t know, it’s kind of like the light bulb clicks on and you’re like, ‘Okay, who I used to be is sort of behind me. Who do I want to be and how do I want to live for the next 20 good years?'”

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Along with her interview, the star resurrects the ’90s slip dress she made so iconic (proof in the photo below) in a sultry spread saying, “What made it [the slip dress] stand out then was that it hadn’t been seen in a while. It was so minimalistic — more minimalistic than it is today, even. But fashion always references itself.”

To see the full interview with Amber Valletta, pick up the all-women photography issue of Porter which hits stands Friday, Feb. 5 or check out the digital edition here.

Do you love Valletta’s new cover? Share with us in the comments below!

— Colleen Kratofil

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