If the fashion industry had a walk of fame, model Taylor Hill would qualify for a star. At just 22 years old, she’s logged time on the industry’s biggest catwalks—most recently for Versace, Anna Sui, and Bottega Veneta—landed a Victoria’s Secret contract, and become the face (and bold brows) of Lancôme.
But to those who know her best, Hill is an outdoorsy girl who’s happiest hanging at home with her family. It’s just one of many things she has in common with runway legend Cindy Crawford. Here, Crawford and Hill discuss her skyrocketing career and how to look good after spending 14 hours on a plane.
CINDY CRAWFORD: Are you ready, Taylor?
TAYLOR HILL: Bring it on!
CC: Did you grow up wanting to be a model?
TH: I did not. I’m from a smallish town in Colorado, and I wasn’t really aware of fashion and what was going on with it. I loved climbing trees and being in nature.
CC: So when you were scouted, what did you think?
TH: I was like, “You’re kidding.” I was so nerdy, tall, and skinny and felt so awkward. I said no at first, but then my mom was like, “Maybe we should give it a shot—you never know.” So I just kind of went for it.
CC: Although we’ve met before, I just learned you were a gymnast. Is there anything from that you’ve been able to apply to modeling?
TH: Everything: pointing my toes, being aware of my hands, dealing with stage fright. I think I was able to pursue modeling so quickly and passionately because of my athletic background. I wasn’t afraid to move in front of a camera.
CC: No wonder you are so successful. You are known for having great eyebrows, but how did you feel about them growing up?
TH: I wanted my mom to pluck them, but she worked in a salon for 30 years and refused. She was like, “I’ve seen women come in, get their eyebrows waxed out of their head, and then come back to me 10 years later and be like, ‘I have no more eyebrows, and it sucks.’ ” She told me I looked like Brooke Shields, and I was like, “Who is that? Why do you keep saying that?” Finally she Googled a picture from [Shields’s 1980 film] The Blue Lagoon and was like, “This is what I think you’re going to look like when you’re older.”
CC: You owe her a big, huge thank-you. I’ve had similar struggles with my daughter, Kaia [Gerber, also a model]. It’s good when you listen to your mom once in awhile.
TH: Yeah. Mine ended up really doing a lot for me.
CC: We have your best interests at heart. So sometimes in this job you have a 14-hour flight before heading straight to work. What’s your 10-minute trick for pulling yourself together even when you don’t feel like it?
TH: I’ve learned that dry shampoo is your best friend. Brushing your teeth is your second-best friend. And then deodorant. I work with Lancôme, and my favorite waker-upper is their Génifique [line]. Like, do the face mask on the plane. Put the serum on when you land. Brush your teeth, spray dry shampoo—you’re a whole new person!
TH: I don’t know if you know Fulvia [Farolfi], but she uses this teeny, tiny hair dryer to heat up the eyelash curler before using it. I swear it makes your lashes stick straight up all day.
CC: That’s amazing. What’s your fitness regimen like? I know taking care of your body is an important part of being a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
TH: Eating well and working out are the most important things because they build endurance. I have up to 18-hour days, and it’s harder to get through them when I’m out of shape. Fitness also changes my perspective on the day, how much I can accomplish, and how I feel about myself. I love high-interval training, CrossFit-based moves, and lifting weights. I want exercise to be hard so it feels like I’ve accomplished something.
CC: I totally agree that when you are strong physically, it translates to feeling strong mentally. OK, so you have a brother and sister who are both models and another sister who is a photographer. How often do you all work together?
TH: I wish it were more often. When I get to be on set with my other siblings, it just feels like home. I know these people ... we’re one. We come from the same humans.
CC: How is your brother, Chase, finding the experience of modeling? Are you noticing a difference [from your own career]?
TH: He’ll call and ask me like, “Oh, do you know this person?” And I’m like, “Very important person, yes, talk to them.” But there are other instances where I’m like, “That’s out of my range.” When he needed help with his runway walk, I said, “Can’t help you, man! It’s going to be waaay different from mine.”
CC: Your InStyle shoot was in Hollywood. When I’m there with my family, they are like, “Where are the celebrity sightings?” Are there any stars you’ve gotten a little fangirly about meeting?
TH: When I first met you, I was like, “Whoa, Cindy Crawford!” I met Rihanna, and I mean, come on, she’s Rihanna. And I just saw Amy Adams during Oscar weekend and was like, “Just got to say, ‘Love ya!’ ” There are so many people we get to talk to [as models], and it’s like, “Wow!” But then you just realize, “Hey, they are a person, just like me.” It’s cool to see that.
CC: There’s a lot of discussion in fashion right now about the way models are treated. Have you—if you want to talk about this—experienced poor treatment? And what changes would you like to see the industry make?
TH: I love talking about it because this is a really great opportunity we have as women to make the industry better for the next generation. The No. 1 thing I would love to see change is the dressing rooms backstage at fashion shows. There’s not a place for the girls to change in private away from the press and photographers. There are girls who are 16 years old, like I was when I first started, changing in an open space.
CC: Well, the problem now is everyone has cell phones. There’s not a corner where someone can’t snap a picture, you know?
TH: Exactly. And that’s terrifying. I was always so afraid of that happening to me, because once that happens, it’s out there.
CC: On a happier note, what are you looking forward to this year?
TH: Everything! I just turned 22, but I still feel like a kid sometimes. I look at my life and where I’m at, and I’m like, “How did I even get here, and what am I still doing here?” I look forward to every single day.
CC: It’s great to hear how much you love modeling. Last thing: What advice would you give Kaia?
TH: Oh my gosh ... she has you! What does she need my advice for?
For more stories like this, pick up the May issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download April 13.