“It’s nice that people use us as a cultural reference because so often, understandably due to exposure, people choose football, basketball, and tennis,” says Asher-Smith. “For someone to choose track and field, the whole community was like ‘Yay!’”
In that moment, sport and fashion intersected publicly. Despite recently signing to the model and talent agency,, Elite London, Asher-Smith stresses that she is not a model, rather she is seeking to redefine what it means to be a sportswoman with the agency’s support. Being in Louis Vuitton’s autumn/winter 2020 campaign was a milestone in this regard.
“Nicolas wanted my pose to be strong and confident. I am a big proponent of showing career sportswomen with muscles because many don’t realise the stereotypes we overcome. People being rude about whether your arms, shoulders or legs are too big.”
The sprinter recalls girls, when she was younger, stalling their upper body training for fear of being perceived too muscular, so she is acutely aware of the positive impact images like this can have in inspiring young women to stay on track and diversify fashion’s rigid ideas around body type. After all, when it comes to sport, bodies have to be diverse in order to succeed.
“It’s not one size fits all,” she says. “To win shot put, your body will look different to someone who wants to win a 10k. If you win the race you’re happy. It doesn’t really matter what you look like.”
Asher-Smith’s hair is also significant. On the track, scrunchies secure ponytails and buns of braids, twists or natural hair – as she wore for her world title triumph in Doha. For editorial photoshoots she has worn wavy micro braids, curly bunches, single braids or twists framed by slicked-down baby hairs – as seen on the sprinter’s dreamy, pink-tinted Wonderland cover – her unofficial signature look. The choices are very much deliberate.
“How black women, particularly dark-skinned black women, are being celebrated in the media is very important to me, which is why you see me in braids a lot,” the sprinter says earnestly. “Conversations about black womanhood and being unapologetically yourself in a public sphere are quite revolutionary.”
So what does fashion give her? “I’m into it for the history, books, joy, boundless creativity and individuality,” she declares. “Fashion has made me far more confident in myself, with more courage in my own convictions. You can wear whatever you want and it’s how you carry yourself that matters. How clothes make you feel.
“I’m always trying to draw people’s attention to the limitlessness of their own potential. You shouldn’t be defined by just one aspect of your personality. Not all sportswomen like what I like and that’s fine because I’m me, Dina.”
Those interested in fashion have looked on in awe as she has embarked on this journey. At the 2019 Sports Personality of the Year Awards, the Londoner – who came third in the popular vote – wore a strapless black leather Ermanno Scervino dress.