She may come from solid A-list stock, but model and Insta phenom HAILEY BALDWIN is on her own trajectory, discovers EMMA CIUFO
Fashion’s rising star and It girl Hailey Baldwin.
WHEN you’re born with a famous surname and have cheekbones that could cut glass, fame has a way of finding you. Never has this been more the case than in 2016, which has seen the children of Generation X’s biggest A-listers come of age and start to forge their own careers — and followings.think the likes of Iris Law,willow and Jaden Smith, Kaia Gerber, Lily-rose Depp and Brooklyn Beckham, who are all starting to create their own ties with the types of brands and studios that turned their parents into icons. Among this blessed group sits Hailey Baldwin (yes, those Baldwins), who counts the new generation of models known only by their first names (Gigi, Bella, Kendall) as BFFS, and whose own fledgling modelling career has gone from strength to strength this year. So how much of her success is of her own making, and how much of it lies with the amazing cards she’s been dealt? It’s a topic the model has obviously thought a lot about, and one she’s more than happy to talk through as we sit for a chat during BAZAAR’S cover shoot at a sprawling townhouse in Newyork’s Greenwichvillage.
“People’s perception of me is that I am where I am because of my family and my name.they think ‘If she weren’t a Baldwin, she wouldn’t be in this position.’they think the same thing for Gigi [Hadid], Bella [Hadid] and Kendall [Jenner]. But the way I explain it is: this is our family business. If you were born into a family of doctors or lawyers and decided to follow in their footsteps, nobody would think you’re only a doctor or lawyer because you came from a family of doctors or lawyers.you still have to go to school, and you still have to go through the process of getting there.”
Her family business is, of course, showbusiness; 19-year-old Baldwin is the child of American actor, producer and author Stephen Baldwin — the younger brother of fellow actors Alec, William and Daniel Baldwin — and graphic designer Kennya Baldwin (nee Deodato). Baldwin may have been exposed to this world from a very young age, but her own strut into the spotlight didn’t start until the age of 14, when she was scouted by the modelling agency Ford and snapped up by IMG (those pillowy lips and perfectly textured blonde locks had something to do with it). Since then she has walked the runway for Moschino, Sonia Rykiel and Topshop Unique, is the current face of Guess, Ugg and Tommy Hilfiger, and has brands such as The Daily Edited and Modelco approach her for collaborations. In addition to her official credentials, there’s an undeniable star-quality about her — it’s in her genes, and characteristic of the social-media-it-girl generation, the kind that oozes so-2016: hair in a topknot, oversized Vetements hoodie, strategically ripped jeans, Nike sneakers, walking head-on into the paparazzi arm in arm with the aforementioned Gigi, Bella and Kendall, Snapchatting the whole thing to her millions of followers. Not to mention Baldwin’s rumoured relationship with a boy by the name of Justin Bieber. Cue intrigue.
But before she started modelling (and moved to Manhattan to pursue it), Baldwin was a home-schooled child in upstate New York. “I grew up in a town called Nyack, which is 30 minutes outside of New York City,” she says. “New York state is really beautiful, and in my opinion it’s important to raise kids in a house with a yard, dogs, ballet classes and normal friends — with a normal life.” She took the ballet classes.“i was a ballet dancer for 12 years or so. It was hard. It’s a lot on your body. I still have old injuries and things that still hurt. I was doing it at least six days a week at one point,” says Baldwin, who considered turning professional before pirouetting into modelling.
Baldwin had the normalcy. Sort of. Her normal is not the dictionary definition. And it’s not dripping in irony like that moment in Clueless when Alicia Silverstone’s character, Cher, says “I actually have a way-normal life for a teenage girl” while stalking the ornate halls of a Beverly Hills mansion. But it’s somewhere in between, or even outside both. “I couldn’t be more grateful for how my parents kept me out of La,kept me out of Newyork City, even, allowing me to grow up super normal,” she says. “I always knew my life wasn’t ‘normal’ because my dad didn’t have a ‘normal’ job,” she adds, gesturing quotation marks. “I grew up on movie sets, so the fact that now my job is being in front of the camera shouldn’t be that surprising to anyone. I guess my definition of normal is not letting your work life affect your family life.”
Take her folks’faith,for example.“my parents are both Christian, so I was raised in church. As I’ve gotten older I’ve had my own experience with God and been able to get very involved in a church I really like,” she says. “The industry I’m in can be very boundary-pushing and risqué. Of course, there are times when this is part of your job, and your job doesn’t define your faith, but there have been a lot of times when I haven’t done things because it went against what I believed in.”
At this point, her phone buzzes and she’s momentarily distracted as she shoots off a series of texts at lightning speed, smiling as she goes, then becomes serious again as we inevitably circle back to talking with razor-sharp focus about that family business and her role within it, which is nothing near humdrum.
“I recently got to work with Karl Lagerfeld for the first time, and that was amazing. He’s a genius, and, literally, when you say a living legend, he is a living legend,” she says of her A/W 2016 campaign shoot for his Paris line. But don’t for a moment presume she thinks of herself as a supermodel. In a recent interview, iconic ’90s face Stephanie Seymour quipped that the aforementioned Kendall and Gigi should be called not supermodels but “bitches of the moment!” Baldwin counters,“the older supermodels sometimes don’t agree with the fact there is a new generation of models.we’re not saying we’re supermodels. I’d rather people look at us as businesspeople, and, yes, modelling is our business right now, but we’re not trying to take anybody’s spot and we’re not trying to discredit the past.we don’t think we’re going to top those women, because they are icons. But it is 2016 and when they were modelling it was a different time. Things are very different now in every aspect of any business. I always hear people saying, ‘Ah she’ll never be any Kate Moss.’ No, of course not, because she’s a completely different individual. I don’t want to be compared to anybody — I’m creating a new lane.”
And it’s a fast lane. Case in point: Baldwin’s 7.6 million Instagram followers, who expect up-to-the-minute updates. “Instagram has created a whole new world of advertising,” she says.“we models are not just putting up photos for people to see us and recognise us and say ‘Oh, I know her from Instagram’.
“I don’t want to be compared to anybody — I’m creating a new lane.”
It’s actually a huge part of our business these days, too.” By “our”, she’s referring again to the Hadids — Gigi, with 23 million followers; Bella, with 6.5 million, and Jenner, who has 66 million. Baldwin counts these ultra-famous models as pals and colleagues, but also craves companionship outside of work.“those girls are awesome, and it’s good to have girls like that around who do the same thing as you because you can relate.there are certain things you can talk to them about that you wouldn’t be able to talk to your other friends you grew up with about because you’re in different lanes of life,” Baldwin says. “But what I’m learning as I get more into modelling and am growing up is the most important people to have around you have no attachment to the industry and have known you for years and years and years. If you start to BS these friends, they call you out.they’re ride-or-die for you, no matter what — they have your back.”
When it comes to the dating lane, Baldwin still has her L-plates. She lists the pros of seeing someone in the business:“i think a lot of us have met people through our circles, and it is harder to date outside the industry because a lot of the time people don’t really understand your lifestyle and what you do.” The cons? “I have a big-time problem trusting people, because it’s a strange world and everybody talks, and the whole industry is like high school.” So she’s just cruising. “I’m very young and I believe in love. I see it in my parents, who are still together, and I have a great example — not everybody is fortunate enough to have that. But what I know to be true at 19 — I’m going to be 20 [soon] — is that it’s so much more important to find yourself first, find out who you are on your own, before you invest so much of yourself in another person. I have invested a lot of myself and my time in somebody else and there’s nothing wrong with that — there’s nothing wrong with being gracious and compassionate and loving towards people you think are worth it. But I think in terms of very serious dating, it can really affect a person.to put so much into somebody else and put so much of somebody else into your life directly; I feel like sometimes you find yourself not really knowing who you are and getting lost in another person.”
At work and play, Baldwin walks the line of the romantic optimist and reluctant participant.when asked where she sees herself in five years, in 10 years, it’s probably not in acting, she says. “I don’t really plan on sticking in this industry for year upon year upon year. I want to, like, have a family and settle down and live a normal life.” But in the meantime, what’s a Baldwin gal to do?