Nashville was once an un­likely place for a su­per­model to call home.

InStyle (USA) - - Beauty Beauty -

Big hair, fried food, and pickup trucks—none of these things re­ally screams fash­ion. Yet, over the past decade, the city has be­come a cul­tural jug­ger­naut as well as a friendly land­ing pad for fa­mous cre­atives who are tired of the grind and ready to ex­pe­ri­ence life in the slow(ish) lane.

Ex­hibit A: Los An­ge­les–born Lily Aldridge moved to Mu­sic City in 2007 after fall­ing for Kings of Leon front­man Caleb Fol­low­ill, who is a long­time res­i­dent. In the 11 years since, they’ve got­ten mar­ried and had a daugh­ter (6-year-old Dixie Pearl), and Fol­low­ill co-founded the city’s Food + Wine Fes­ti­val, which has helped put this Ten­nessee hot spot on the culi­nary map.

“I’m a real Nashvil­lian now,” says Aldridge with a laugh. The 32-year-old face of Bul­gari, Carolina Her­rera, Lau­ren by Ralph Lau­ren, and Michael Kors is perched on a blue vel­vet love seat in the lobby of Noelle, an art deco–era ho­tel, dressed for the South’s no­to­ri­ous hu­mid­ity in a flo­ral peas­ant dress by Dôen, with one long tawny leg casually tucked un­der her. Her long brown hair is pulled back in a sleek pony­tail, and she’s wear­ing lit­tle to no makeup. Aldridge’s wide-set eyes are warm and friendly; she smiles eas­ily and of­ten.

Aldridge was born into a stylish fam­ily. Her mother, Laura Lyons, half sis­ter, Saf­fron Aldridge, and sis­ter, Ruby Aldridge, are all mod­els, while her half brother is the ac­claimed fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher Miles Aldridge. She says she vir­tu­ally grew up on set, ar­riv­ing at Miles’s shoots in her soc­cer uni­form and help­ing him with the light­ing. Even­tu­ally, she be­came the sub­ject and of­fi­cially started in front of the cam­era in 2003, land­ing her first cover (for Span­ish Vogue) later that same year. In 2009, her fame as­cended to new heights after she walked the run­way for Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret. She earned her wings as an An­gel the fol­low­ing sea­son.

“My ca­reer has hap­pened or­gan­i­cally,” she says. “I was never su­per-suc­cess­ful right away. It’s been a nice, slow ride, which I like.”

With pro­fes­sional obli­ga­tions tak­ing her away from home about once a week, she’s be­come adept at tog­gling be­tween the two worlds. It helps that Nashville has be­come a des­ti­na­tion for fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phers, al­low­ing Aldridge to book plenty of shoots in her adopted home­town. Fam­ily, though, is al­ways the pri­or­ity. “I get to have more of a nor­mal rou­tine here,” she says. A typ­i­cal day in­volves ris­ing early to get Dixie ready for school (“my fa­vorite thing”), med­i­tat­ing, fit­ting in a work­out be­fore meet­ing up with her hus­band for lunch at Lit­tle Oc­to­pus, and get­ting home in time for their daugh­ter’s re­turn. Her work with St. Jude Chil­dren’s Re­search Hospi­tal and the in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned World of Chil­dren or­ga­ni­za­tion, for which she serves as an am­bas­sador, is also very im­por­tant to her.

Aldridge ad­mits that her friends had their doubts when she first told them she was head­ing be­low the Ma­sonDixon Line. “When I’m at a party in Paris, some­one will still be like, ‘ Where?’ ” she says. “It seems so for­eign. Peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how spe­cial it is here un­til they come and see it.” Which is sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing that the city is teem­ing with fa­mil­iar faces from the run­ways. “Niki Tay­lor is here,” Aldridge says of the ’90s-era cover girl, who has called the city home for two decades. “My friend Josephine [Skriver] lives here. And my friend Tay­lor [Hill] is mov­ing here. I’m like, ‘ Wel­come to Nashville—come on down!’ ”

She’s also close with Karen El­son, the Bri­tish model and singer who re­lo­cated to town with a rock-star part­ner (El­son and Jack White di­vorced in 2013). Though the two mod­els live a few miles apart, Aldridge says they stand a bet­ter chance of run­ning into each other at a party in Mi­lan. “We hang out more when we’re not here. Be­cause when you’re home, you kind of want to be with your fam­ily and just re­lax. But when I go to New York, I see all my girl­friends. I talk to them all the time. We’ve grown up to­gether.

“I love mod­el­ing,” she con­tin­ues. “But I want to keep evolv­ing. I would love to create my own beauty or fash­ion line one day. I feel like I’m just burst­ing with cre­ativ­ity, and I’m try­ing to fig­ure out what that next lane is. I al­ways tell my daugh­ter, ‘ You can be and do what­ever you want.’ ” n

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