How does it feel to be back in Chicago after getting your start here and growing up in the Midwest?
It’s so funny, as we were driving in I was thinking, my first agency was here in Chicago, I was a baby- I was 13! At the time I was not really ready to attempt New York, but Chicago was just a train ride away from St. Louis and my mom and I would be able to get here in a few hours. I would take my little book, which I think just had a Teen Vogue tear sheet because that was the only thing I had done, and we’d drive around the city and find the castings. They would always be for a bridal catalog or a bridal magazine and I was only 13 years old- so twisted! It’s been awhile, but it’s so good to be back, and be here… not at a bridal casting call!
Congratulations on being the new face of Victoria’s Secret’s Heavenly fragrance! What does it mean to you to be “an angel” and the face of such an iconic brand?
I think it’s so funny! I genuinely mean this when I say that to me, because I am from the Midwest and this is home, Victoria’s Secret is a brand that holds a lot of memories. Right off the bat my career was more high fashion- I was doing couture shows and runway shows with the Karl Lagerfeld’s of the world and I had no idea who Karl Lagerfeld even was until somebody told me on the way to a fitting with him! But Victoria’s Secret is something that I’ve always had a special relationship with, as I grew up in a house of girls and we all idolized that woman. Victoria’s Secret was a place we could all go despite our different ages, body types and very different styles, so Victoria’s Secret, more so than any other brand I’ve worked with, is very, very special to me. When I started working with Victoria’s Secret it was almost more important to me than opening the Dior show or being in American Vogue because those things weren’t relevant to me and my friends as 16 year old’s. Victoria’s Secret resonated with us! When I walked in the Victoria’s Secret runway show for the first time right after I graduated high school everyone at home was like “She made it!”, and then even more so when I was in the catalog. Nobody at home in St. Louis saw Vogue, but when I was in their mail, in their Victoria’s Secret catalogs everybody thought that was a big deal. It was pretty cool!
What have you learned from watching the Victoria’s Secret Angels who have walked the runway before you?
Well Gisele [Bündchen] has been so amazing in both worlds of modeling [high fashion and commercial] and done incredibly well. With Victoria’s Secret when she came on board in I believe 1999 or 2000 she had been in the pages of Vogue, and French Vogue, and Italian Vogue, and walking every catwalk and in all the campaigns, but then also in the storefronts and catalogs that a little girl in the Midwest would see and know her from. That’s something, being that I started in the high fashion industry- and still really love that part of my job and working with all of the creative designers, that I really admire because I’m American and because my sisters and I all really connect with this brand I’ve wanted to follow in Gisele‘s footsteps, if even possible! She’s really the only one who’s been able to do it, so I’m trying. It’s really surreal to be on this end of it! Gisele was the last person to do this campaign [for the Heavenly fragrance], so if this was 2005 she would have been here sitting with you.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve worn for Victoria’s Secret?
I really loved the full bodysuit that I wore [in the show] this year! It was crazy to get into, I literally had a huge team sewing me into it. There were thousands of crystals everywhere on that. It was about a year ago now that I went in for my first fitting for that, for the November show. My first fitting was more than six months out because they did the body suit specifically for me and my crazy long measurements. I was worried about the crystals being in the right places! I kept thinking this is national television, my family is watching!
Do you still get nervous?
I definitely do, but I think that’s really good! In ballet I always loved the performance and the adrenaline rush. It’s such an experience being backstage with the behind the scenes chaos. It’s really an indescribable feeling! The adrenaline, the anticipation, especially with Victoria’s Secret because you know that so many people are going to see it!
Do you still have to audition for the show every year?
Yes. It’s really competitive! Again because everybody see’s it and knows what it is, it’s a dream to be in that! It’s pretty competitive. I think everybody works out like crazy beforehand, I know I do.
Now since you’re in Chicago, I have to ask about your recent home feature in Vogue and working with Chicago’s own Nate Berkus. What can you tell us about that? Do you have a favorite room?
Nate is amazing! His entire team is amazing, and he has a new show out- American dream Builders! He’s so sweet and so talented. He helped me make my house a home, and he also has a line with Target- he’s really killing it right now. My favorite spot is the kitchen. He made it the heart of the home. It’s really cozy with different textures, the wallpaper has a raffia, striped, woven look, with white floors… it’s very clean and chic, very “Nate”, also very me!
Let’s talk fashion! How would you describe your personal style?
My style is really very simple. I like very elegant, clean, chic styles and shapes. I always try to dress for my body since I’m very tall and long. finding things for my body, and things that flatter it. I have three sisters, one older, two younger, and they’re all gorgeous, but we have very different body types so we could never really share clothes- so I’ve really had to develop my own sense of personal style which has turned out to be very simple. I’m a good Midwestern girl! I love jeans and a t-shirt, but also this dress is by Azzedine Alaïa and I’m a big fan of his.
Okay, help a non supermodel out… What beauty tips, tricks and products do you swear by?
I love a dry shampoo for a bit of volume and texture, there’s a really good one from Klorane but also I really love a BB Cream to eliminate having to do both cream and foundation. L’Oreal has a great BB Cream that I really love. For shampoo I use Victoria Secret’s So Sexy, because it smells so good, and works really well!
What’s been the biggest “pinch me” moment of your career thus far?
Everyday! It’s one thing bigger than the next and it’s pretty incredible, but now seeing everything come full circle- just this morning I had a moment where I went Wow being back here where it all began. It’s pretty cool! I’m very lucky.
[Photos By Hallie Duesenberg]