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Porter
Cover story

In The Shades

With

Taylor Hill

She’s the self-proclaimed “country bumpkin” who’s made an indelible mark on the international modeling industry – but TAYLOR HILL is only just getting started. Wearing FW18’s most elegant tonal pieces, the youngest-ever Victoria’s Secret Angel talks to EVE CLAXTON about the chance meeting that changed her life and why acting keeps her alive

Photography Hanna TveiteStyling Tracy Taylor
Cover Stories

It’s late, and Taylor Hill has been shooting all day. Her long, chestnut hair is in a topknot, and she’s wearing light-washed, high-waisted jeans and a little tie-dye tee cropped above her middle. She folds her long legs (seriously – she’s 5’10”) underneath her and beams. Two things are immediately apparent: one, she is ridiculously good looking, and two, she is properly, irrepressibly giddy in her appreciation for the job. “It can get tiring, of course,” she says, “but then I just think, well, what else will I do? It’s just a blessing, honestly, to travel the world, to meet such interesting people.” Then, she deadpans: “I mean, who else gets to be 22 and have the status I have on airlines?”

After eight years in the business, Hill is at the top of her game. She’s a Victoria’s Secret Angel, has an ongoing contract with Lancôme, and has modeled for everyone from Versus Versace to Michael Kors and Topshop. This PorterEdit shoot has been a long time coming – Hill has so many demanding contracts that it’s nigh on impossible to book editorial days. Her reputation in the industry calls out not just her delicate bone structure, but her impressive, unwavering work ethic.

“In school, I didn’t really fit in,” she says. “I always struggled with academic stuff. I was crazy shy. But when I started modeling, it just felt natural. I realized I could do such a great job, and I felt confident. Even though it was hard work, I knew that this was what I wanted to do, so I took the opportunity and ran with it.”

“Even though [modeling] was HARD work, I knew that this was what I WANTED to do, so I took the OPPORTUNITY and ran with it”

Top image: Sweater Petar Petrov; pants Tibi; shoes The Row; ring Chloé. This image: Coat and pants Ellery; T-shirt Adam Lippes; earrings Sophie Buhai; ring Foundrae
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Coat Fendi; earrings Kenneth Jay Lane
Blazer and pants Tibi; sweater Chloé; boots Fendi; earrings Sophie Buhai; ring (right hand) Chloé; ring (left hand) Tiffany & Co.; bag Acne Studios

Growing up in Colorado with her two sisters, Logan Rae and Mackinley, and her brother, Chase, modeling was a world away. “We lived in a neighborhood where you just played outside all day long,” explains Hill. “In the summer, you ride your bike, climb trees and swim in the lake, and in the winter, we’re snowboarding or sledding or snowshoeing. We didn’t really have cell phones; the internet wasn’t a thing.”

Her main focuses back then were gymnastic training and getting through high school; fashion wasn’t something she thought about, besides occasionally tuning in to America’s Next Top Model. Then, when she was 14, came a chance meeting: “I was hanging out with my mom and sisters at the local dude ranch. There was a photoshoot going on, and an assistant on the shoot thought I was one of the models.” When Taylor explained that she was just there to ride the horses, the assistant asked to speak to her parents. “She said to my mom, ‘Oh wow, your daughters are so beautiful, they should go to New York and meet agents.’ And she gave my mom her card.”

Coat Pushbutton; sweater Goldsign; boots Fendi; ring Taylor’s own
Blazer and pants Altuzarra; sweater Tom Ford; earrings Kenneth Jay Lane

Hill ended up meeting with a number of different agencies, and those episodes of America’s Next Top Model paid dividends: “I went online and googled everything and saw that Gisele and Karlie [Kloss] were with IMG, so I was like, I should be with them.” And so, she signed with IMG and started booking jobs. “To me, high fashion was Abercrombie & Fitch and Guess Jeans!” she laughs, still incredulous at her naiveté. “I didn’t even own a magazine – I didn’t see a copy of Vogue until I was in Vogue.”

In the beginning, her mother traveled everywhere with her, helping her adjust to leaving Colorado and to navigate the industry. “I had never seen anything like New York,” Hill remembers. “It was pretty intense, the buildings and the people and the noises, and you can’t see the sky. I’d never taken a train before. I was so shocked that people lived this way. I’m like, where are the mountains, and the trees and rivers and nature?” Despite the initial culture shock, something clicked; she fell in love with modeling. By 18, Hill had achieved two major career milestones: she became the youngest Victoria’s Secret Angel thus far and the youngest-ever face of Lancôme.

Since then, she’s barely stopped. “I fly by the seat of my pants, for sure,” she smiles. “I’ll be in here in New York shooting, then I fly to Paris and London for Lancôme. This summer has been shockingly busy.” Besides modeling, Hill also shot scenes for director Nicolas Winding Refn’s forthcoming TV project, Too Old to Die Young, slated for release by Amazon Prime in 2019. She first worked with Refn in 2016, appearing briefly (as herself) in The Neon Demon, his psychological horror film about the modeling industry. In this new project, Hill plays a waitress, and although she’s only in a few scenes, she is clearly excited about the opportunity: “It’s amazing to see the process of filming being laid out in front of you.”

Is acting her next step? “I’m more interested in just slowly working my way in,” she hesitates. “Just to gain experience, to take a back seat and observe and learn from the other actors. It’s such a different experience from being on photoshoots or runways where you know what to expect, and then you’re thrown onto a random TV set and you’re like, whoa. It keeps you on your feet and interested in your work – it definitely keeps me alive.”

[Acting] keeps you on your FEET and interested in your WORK – it definitely keeps me ALIVE”

Dress The Row; necklace Foundrae
Coat Tom Ford; sweater Chloé; pants Fendi; shoes The Row; earrings Laura Lombardi

Working out also helps keep her energized and motivated. “I was a gymnast from age eight, a ballerina from age five, and been snowboarding since I was three,” she recounts, “so I’ve been moving for as long as I can remember and I love it.” She’s tried all types of workout regimens, but her current favorite is CrossFit-style training. “My trainer challenges me with a lot of fun stuff like handstand wall-walks, handstand holds, ring pull-ups – it reminds me of my past training as a gymnast.” Hill’s beauty routine, meanwhile, is much more low-key: “I definitely wash my face every night…” she grins. “I drink a lot of water. I love coconut oil for hair and skin. I take my makeup off after a shoot. The simpler the better.”

Dress Chloé; boots Isabel Marant; bracelets Jennifer Fisher

“My parents are so PROUD, but they still have no IDEA how this happened… They’re like, ‘We’re just country BUMPKINS from Colorado, this is crazy’”

Although she has an apartment in downtown Manhattan, Hill heads to her other home in California when she finally gets some time to relax. “I go just to chill and do nothing but hang out; I can take my dog to the beach and just let him run.” Or, even better, back home to Colorado and her family: “I [hang] out with my siblings and some friends and [go] dirt biking and ATV-ing, doing the kind of fun Colorado summer activities that I haven’t been able to do in years.”

Luckily for Hill, her siblings have also gone into the modeling business, so they see one another frequently: younger sister Mackinley and brother Chase are both signed to the same agency as her and living in New York, while older sister Logan is an LA-based photographer. “My parents are so proud, but they still have no idea how this happened,” laughs Hill. “They’re like, ‘We’re just a couple of country bumpkins from Colorado, this is crazy!’”

Tomorrow, Hill will catch another plane for yet another photoshoot before fashion month takes hold again. It’s definitely an insane schedule, but her parents needn’t worry: this woman has model behavior nailed.

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.