Bridging the Gap

Supermodel Lauren Hutton and rising star Ashley Smith prove that when it comes to beauty, age is just a number.

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WWD Beauty Inc. February 2011

Photo By Ruven Afanador

Lauren Hutton and Ashley Smith

Photo By Ruven Afanador

Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 02/11/2011

Age has not mellowed Lauren Hutton.

The model-actress-makeup entrepreneur is completing an eight-hour photo shoot for WWD Beauty Inc’s “Age” issue with as much vim and vigor as fellow cover girl and new kid on the block Ashley Smith. Hutton seems a perfect choice as cover model. At age 67, she’s experiencing a career renaissance, and can be seen in everything from magazine features to J. Crew catalogue and Web site spreads and Club Monaco’s spring ad campaign. But Hutton, who’s appeared in more than 30 movies, served as a Revlon spokesmodel and single-handedly put women over 40 back on the beauty map, has probably spent as much time letting others know she has an opinion as she has posing in front of a camera, and rightly so.

“I want to give you a big lecture about longevity and money,” she calls out to Smith after the shoot. “I love this girl, Ashley. She’s terrific—a plain-good Texan. I’m almost 50 years older than her!” she says.

Smith, who shares Hutton’s gap-toothed grin, shares other commonalities, too: She’s also a Southern girl, like Hutton, who hails from Charleston, S.C. And, says Ruven Afanador, who photographed this story, the two share the same girl-like spirit.

Wearing black leggings and a casual white shirt, Hutton sits down for an interview in the Lower East Side studio, tucking one leg beneath her, leaving the other out as she speaks. Her face, especially at certain angles, reflects why she remains as in demand today as she was when she was a teen.

Hutton’s been in the modeling business, on and off, for nearly 50 years. One of the modeling superstars of her day, her longevity in such a fleeting business can be attributed to her need to fix things. Take the reason why she and Revlon parted ways: Hutton says she was fired from the cosmetics company at age 41 after a 10-year relationship—she was told women over 40 don’t wear makeup.

She became bent on reentering modeling at 46, after opening up a magazine for the first time in five years. “I couldn’t find anyone who looked like me,” she says. “My generation had become invisible.” Hutton then spent a year calling up the fashion editors she knew and telling them it was time women her age were represented.

During her modeling hiatus, and especially when she returned to modeling and acting, she also began messing around with makeup, tweaking product formulas, since many had “too much mica, too much sparkle,” which settled in her pores and fine lines. She addressed this gap, too, in 2000, when she put up $600,000 to start her own makeup line—one designed for women 45 years and older. At its peak, in 2005, Lauren Hutton Makeup generated $17.4 million in sales.

Smith, 20, on the other hand, is practically fresh off of Southwest Airlines. She arrived in New York a year-and-a-half ago, and has a story model wannabes love to read about: Barely out of high school, working as a grocery clerk in Austin, Smith was spotted at a music festival by a local scout who saw her potential. Within months, Smith was in New York meeting with agencies and soon she signed with Trump. Posing next to Hutton was intimidating, if not also an opportunity to learn that celebrities—at least some of them—are approachable. “I didn’t know if I should touch her!” says Smith. To prepare for the shoot, Smith watched Hutton’s interviews on YouTube and came away knowing that Hutton “is an outspoken American female icon.”

So, what does Hutton’s take-no-prisoners attitude translate to for Smith, who is at the start of her career and is surely in a much more competitive environment than when Hutton was modeling? What could she learn from a legend?

A lot, says Hutton, who’s about to leave the studio, but instead perches herself on a coffee table 2 feet in front of the budding model and gives her some sage advice.

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