Joan Smalls has credited Riccardo Tisci for boosting her career.

The 28-year-old model has credited the 42-year-old fashion designer - who recently quit his role as creative director at Givenchy for 12 years - as the figure who gave her her ''a-ha!'' moment and helped her to be recognised as a catwalk icon in the fashion industry after he signed her to feature in the Givenchy Haute Couture Fashion Show in 2010, although her previous agents had slammed her for her appearance.

Speaking about her rise to fame, the brunette beauty said: ''The first thing [the agent] he told me was that I needed to straighten my teeth.

''I was doing extremely well as a commercial model, saving money and travelling, but it got to a point where I was starting to get content. I was like, no Joan, you need to aim higher.

''I switched agencies [to IMG] and that was when I got the Givenchy Haute Couture exclusive. I remember coming out of a fitting after I met with Riccardo [Tisci] and I got it. It was the 'a-ha!' moment of euphoria. I was like, 'Joan, this is it', and I got goosebumps.

''And that changed everything. After that everyone saw me in a different light and for that I'm always grateful to him because he was the one who was able to reshape my image.''

Although the Puerto Rican fashion muse has been ''super tired'' on the job after working 12 hour days, she has ''never complained'' and continues to work hard ''with a smile'' on her face because she wants to enjoy every moment.

She told ES magazine: ''I remember telling myself, 'Make the best out of it, go hard.' I had to do the looks at 3am, 12 hours straight, and being super tired and jet lagged, but I kept telling myself, 'This is what you wanted, Joan' and I never complained. I did it with a smile and gratitude because when you want something so badly, when you're so hungry, you think, I'm going to take it.''