Maggie Rizer
Photo: Gianni Pucci /

In the late nineties, Maggie Rizer was a recurring presence in the pages of Vogue. With her arresting good looks and sunny disposition, Rizer stood out as a new kind of all-American model: edgy enough to appeal to photographers like Steven Meisel and Craig McDean, but sweet enough to front campaigns for wholesome standards like Clinique, which made her the face of its ubiquitous, decade-defining fragrance Happy. For close to a decade, Rizer was a fashion fixture—until she stepped away from the industry to focus on herself and her family. In the years since, Rizer has settled down with businessman Alex Mehran, become a mother three times over, and recently returned to modeling. With back-to-back appearances in the August and September issues of Vogue, it’s clear that Rizer is once again at the top of her game. We caught up with the supermodel to talk motherhood as a model, and how she’s adjusting to the new social media–heavy industry.

You wrote a wonderful piece last September about what it was like to come back to modeling after a decade. How has it felt to return to the pages of Vogue in the September issue?

Modeling and fashion are some of the things that have made me happiest in the world. I grew up in fashion, and while everyone else my age was having the college experience, I was learning about why Alexander McQueen was so amazing and learning about what inspires Karl Lagerfeld. It’s hard to relate to, but it’s my reality and I’ve loved it. Today as a mom of three, returning to Vogue is awesome and makes me incredibly happy. The only difference between today and the beginning of my career is I have a lot more going for me than just being a fashion model. It doesn’t mean I’m not incredibly lucky and fortunate to be a model, it just means I’m even that much more fortunate to be blessed as a mom—a job I could never compare to another.

How has being a mother impacted your career?

People love to say that becoming a mom won’t change your life, but, really, it changes you in every way imaginable, and that includes your fashion sense—in a major way. Absolutely everything I wear (within a 50-degree radius of my children) is pooped or puked on, and I’m totally okay with that. Today my fashion at home is casual (as cool as I can be, since I get dressed basically in my sleep), and when I go out, I get a chance to dress in fabrics other than Sunbrella. Modeling is more limited for me these days because my number one priority is my family, but I am very fortunate to be able to still do it once in a while.

What is it like for you seeing trends from the nineties/aughts showing up again on the runways?

Nineties fashion is the best for me, so to see it back is amazing! There is nothing better than big combat boots, grunge, dirty cool hair, and a good rock vibe. You don’t have to push this trend on me.

How do you find the current era’s focus on social media and self-promotion—has it been an adjustment dealing with that side of the business?

Social media and reality TV have wound their way into fashion in a way I assumed was unimaginable. It’s fascinating that it’s been so successful, and it’s amazing that it has given girls such strong reins on their careers. Social media is giving power back to models, making them that much more valuable and popular, as it should be! Self-promotion was initially a little hard for me to understand, but I now understand the importance of it, not only to models but also to brands and magazines. I think it’s quite amazing that models now have this amazing extra power. Especially after so many actresses taking over a big percentage of editorials, ads, and covers—I think it’s phenomenal that models have this extra bit of control over their careers.

After two decades, what keeps you excited about the job?

I love fashion. I truly enjoy watching designers come back season after season with fresh inspiration. I love watching the world inspire fashion and love seeing it play out in the streets. It’s amazing to me to watch fashion go from a sketch to the runway to the sidewalk. I love that everyone can be in fashion. You can spend $10,000 or $10 and be in fashion. In all of the transformations it makes, fashion is incredible.

This season we’ve seen an influx of incredible redheads on the runway. As one of the originals, how do you feel about that?

Not that I’m biased, but redheads are and always have been a special beauty like no other in fashion. Natalie [Westling], Rianne [Van Rompaey], and Madison [Stubbington] are not only stunning redheads but are all genuine and sweet with great personalities. It’s a true honor to work with these girls [in the September issue]. The more redheads, the better!

What can we expect from you as you enter into this new phase of your career?

My number one focus is my family, which means lots of diaper changes, swim lessons, and soccer games in my future! There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than that. I am very humbled to be in this amazing position I am in, to be able to choose when to work and to have such incredible jobs to choose from. It’s a unique position that I don’t take for granted. I would also love to open a shop near our home at some point. It would feature some of my favorite designers and items—like Matthew Williamson, Yohji [Yamamoto], Awaveawake, Rick Owens, Dean Harris, Diptyque candles, Assouline books, special finds from traveling, et cetera. Saying all that, the diaper changes are the only thing I’m 100 percent certain about.