American model Hilary Rhoda features on the cover of luxury online fashion magazine The Edit by Net-A-Porter, March 2014 issue. Photographed by Raf Stahelin and styled by Maya Zepinic. With her well known casual chic appeal and showing off her new shorter hair, Hilary posed for editorial “The Way She Wears It”. Her collegiate-meets-couture looks have made her one of the world`s top models and global ambassador for beauty brand Estee Lauder. Inside interview brings conversation with Hilary about her career and personal life.
Read the interview below with Hilary from The Edit digital magazine by Net-a-Porter:
Her collegiate-meets-couture looks have made HILARY RHODA one of the world’s top models, but she is also the one you are least likely to have heard of. EVE CLAXTON discovers the beauty within.
In almost every way, Hilary Rhoda picked the wrong moment to go into modeling. At 16, when she was getting started, it was 2003, the era of the Brazilian and Eastern European supermodels, when the names and physiques of the moment were Gisele Bündchen, Alessandra Ambrosio and Natalia Vodianova.
Rhoda, meanwhile, hails from suburban Chevy Chase, Maryland. From the age of 10, people had compared her wholesome looks to Brooke Shields. “When I first started modeling, people said, ‘Oh, she’s too American-looking’,” says Rhoda. “I was going to castings and not getting anywhere.” It wasn’t until her agent took her to Paris in 2005 that her career truly took off. Nicolas Ghesquière cast her on sight to walk in the Balenciaga show, identifying something eternal in her all-American elegance. By the end of the week, she was opening for Valentino.
Soon, Estée Lauder came knocking, and Rhoda won her first major beauty-advertising contract. Shortly thereafter, the New York Times announced it was time to “throw away the tweezers”. Rhoda and her brows – “as furry as tufted caterpillars” – had just ushered in a new look, well before anyone had heard of Cara Delevingne.
Flash forward eight years, and at 26, Rhoda is one of the highest-earning models in the business (Forbes ranked her at number six in 2013 – just behind Kate Moss). But unlike some of her peers, she has never felt the need to make much noise about what she does or why she does it.
Sitting in a café in her home neighborhood of Soho, New York, her dark hair newly cropped in a shaggy bob, with only a swipe of lipgloss and a flick of mascara as her makeup, it is immediately apparent what photographers from Steven Meisel to Bruce Weber find so irresistible. First, there is the jaw; long and defined, the perfect complement to her deep-set, light-blue eyes. At 5ft 11, she has to fold her gazelle-like legs under the table to sit down. Even the tiny scar above her upper lip (where her family’s labrador bit her when she was 15) is one of those imperfections that adds to her charm rather than detracts.
“I had a great childhood,” says Rhoda. “It was busy. There was always ballet, piano, basketball practice.” When she made up her mind that she wanted to model, her parents were supportive, but insisted she finished school. “I didn’t even tell my friends until a magazine came out and there was [my]Ralph Lauren ad in it.”
She moved to New York in 2005 with her mother, who acted as her manager for the first few years. “I thought that if modeling didn’t work, I could get my education after. It was a risk, but I’m glad that I took it.” Rhoda quickly gained a reputation as the girl who showed up early and gave it her all. “Being grounded is important,” she says. “If you get caught up in the model l lifestyle and the compliments, people won’t hire you if you let that go to your head.”
Rhoda’s personal style has been influenced by the world she has inhabited. “You’re exposed to these amazing designers who are making clothes straight onto your body,” she enthuses. “Seeing the best stylists put things together gives me inspiration to try different things.”
Nonetheless, she veers toward classic looks. “I like to be comfortable,” she explains. “I went to a Catholic school so I wore a uniform every day. That drilled something into my brain about dressing simply.” Today she is wearing a striped Madewell sweater with Ralph Lauren jeans and Tabitha Simmons boots. “I like to play with accessories and shoes,” she admits, “but I’m not going to traipse around New York ity in seven-inch heels!”
Even on the red carpet, Rhoda has a way of making glamor look fuss-free. Memorable outfits include the black leather leggings under a Wes Gordon lace blouse for 2013’s Met Ball. Her must-have beauty items when dressing up? “A smoky eye and Nars Dragon Girl Lip Liner.” As for the secret to her luminous glow, Rhoda cites squalene oil and pawpaw ointment. She works out every day, at fitness guru Tracy Anderson’s gym or her local SoulCycle. “The good thing about working out is that I don’t have to eat kale chips,” she smiles.
Last November, Rhoda became engaged to her boyfriend of four years, former New York Rangers ice hockey star Sean Avery. They have yet to set a wedding date and, incredibly, she has barely even thought about her dress. “I think I’ll lean toward something simple,” she demurs. “I loved Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s wedding gown.”
In the meantime, the two enjoy quiet weekends together: “I’m a homebody,” Rhoda admits. “I love having friends over and cooking.” She’s a conscientious user of social media, posting to Twitter and Instagram daily. Does she think about building her brand, as other models have done? “Definitely,” she replies. She hosted the live stream at last year’s Met Ball, interviewing celebrities and designers on the red carpet. And last month, she went to the Super Bowl to file interviews for TV channel, Extra. “I would love to get into acting. That would be fun and challenging and a little scary, but in a good way.”
Whatever path she takes, Rhoda plans to implement the same attitude she took in her earliest modeling days: “Perseverance and determination are key,” she says, smiling confidently. You have no reason to doubt her.
Images: net-a-porter.com ; visualoptimism.blogspot.com