In a season six episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” photographer Nick Saglimbeni told Kendall Jenner, “You really should consider doing runway. This stuff is just so fantastic. That’s a freaking Times Square billboard right there.”
Kendall, then 15, said, “Runway modeling scares me just a little bit…”
Four years later, she’s clearly gotten over her fear of the catwalk, having hit the runways of New York, Paris, London and Milan Fashion Week. She’s walked for numerous brands including Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Givenchy, Fendi, Alexander Wang, Donna Karan, Diane Von Furstenberg, Vera Wang, Pucci, Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, and Balmain.
She’s also landed major campaigns for Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Karl Lagerfeld, Estee Lauder, and Calvin Klein, and has become a fixture in fashion magazines. (She’s on the cover of this month’s GQ and Harper’s Bazaar.)
No longer just Kim’s cute little sister, Kendall has gone from reality show royalty to fashion’s new It girl, crushing skeptics along the way.
Kendall is hounded by paparazzi and her family’s life continues to be constant tabloid fodder. But she seems unfazed.
Her massive following (25.1 million on Instagram, 10.4 million on Twitter) keeps growing, but she says, “You can’t think of yourself as anything special… I try and think of myself as the most normal person on the planet.”
That morning, she had driven herself in her Range Rover and, save for one handler, arrived with no entourage.
Killer fashion trio
It’s a sunny day in March and we’re in Los Angeles, at a rug shop-slash-photo studio where Kendall is shooting her campaign for Penshoppe. She’s the brand’s newest ambassador, forming a killer fashion trio with Sean O’Pry and Cara Delevingne.
“We want only the best in fashion,” says Jeff Bascon, Penshoppe’s brand director.
Alice Liu, Penshoppe parent company Golden ABC’s VP for retail brands, agrees: “Kendall is a perfect fit for us since she’s the current face of fashion. She’s a joy to work with.”
The shoot has been going on for hours but Kendall looks fresh and is in good spirits, dancing to rap music between shots, fist-bumping with photographer Guy Aroch and taking selfies with the team. At one point, “Everyday I’m Hustlin’” blares from the speakers.
“She’s great,” says Alice. “She’s quiet and focused in front of the camera but she knows how to have fun off it at the same time.”
As Guy clicks away, Kendall plays with props. We marvel at her unbelievably long legs and her ability to look like a young girl in one photo and a vixen in the next.
Stylist Simone Harouche— who has worked with Miley Cyrus, Nicole Richie and Christina Aguilera, and was named by The Hollywood Reporter as one of Hollywood’s most powerful stylists—is dressing Kendall for the shoot.
“Penshoppe is really youthful and cute and works with Kendall’s sense of style,” she says. “She wears the clothes really well.”
Simone, who went to high school with Kendall’s sisters Kim and Kourtney, says she watched Kendall grow up. “She’s always been such a sweet girl and so beautiful. It’s nice to see her grow up and have all of this success. It’s really exciting to see. She’s a professional and her entire family is. They come to work and they get things done.”
Makeup artist Sabrina Bedrani—who counts Sandra Bullock and Heidi Klum as her longtime clients and who regularly preps stars for magazine covers and the red carpet—also met Kendall when she was younger.
“I worked with her once, years ago, before she started her modeling career,” Sabrina recalls. “Her sister was going to an event and she said, ‘Oh, my little sister is here, she wants to be a model, can you please do her makeup, too? She’s coming with me to the event.’ I think this was three years ago. And look at her now.”
Guy, who also shot Sean for Penshoppe, says of Kendall: “She’s quite magical, I have to say. First time working with her and she’s coming at fashion from another angle, as we all know. I was curious. She’s really great… super professional. She really knows how to model. I was super impressed.”
“It was such a delight working with her,” echoes Jeff. “For one, she’s amazing. She’s very professional, she’s authentic. No qualms, very easy to work with. She’s very smart and articulate. I was just blown away. She’s the real deal.”
“We made her run in several layouts, which must have been very tiring, but she was very game, and what’s good was that she nailed them all,” he adds.
Penshoppe’s Denimlab billboards featuring Kendall are now up. “We are excited to launch Kendall for Penshoppe Denimlab. The pants fit her perfectly. Penshoppe Denimlab is introducing a lot new washes and fits,” says Jeff.
The clothes from the campaign will be available in stores this month. “Penshoppe fans can expect the brand to always give them fresh and stylish global trends and a face that best represents it,” says Alice.
When the brand announced Kendall as its newest endorser on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram last Wednesday, the response was tremendous, with many fans begging Penshoppe to bring Kendall to the Philippines.
“CANT CONTAIN MY HAPPINESS WOOOOOHH PENSHOPPE I LOVE YOU BRING KENDALL HERE IN PH,” one user tweeted.
“THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!!!! MEET AND GREET PLEASE!!!” another wrote on Facebook, making emojis rain.
The surprises are far from over. Says Jeff: “Oh man, there are just so many things lined up for the brand this year. Hold on tight, Penshoppe is just getting started.”
KENDALL JENNER ON FAME, FASHION AND HER FAMILY
Why did you say yes to Penshoppe?
The brand is amazing and the clothes are great. I was excited about this.
What do you like about the brand?
Everything’s easy and comfortable and cool. I can wear it and feel good.
How was the shoot?
The shoot was great. It was really awesome. It was a beautiful day, it was fun, we were on the roof.
Do you have favorite pieces from the shoot?
I think this skirt is one of my favorites. I really like it.
Describe your personal style.
I always like to be comfortable and cool and, on an everyday basis, I’m pretty relaxed.
New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week just finished. What was the experience like for you? Was it crazy?
It was fun. It gets tiring but you keep yourself going…
How does it feel to have already done so much in fashion?
It feels great. It’s a complete dream come true so it’s absolutely amazing.
What has been your most surreal or unforgettable fashion moment?
Um, I think shooting with Karl Lagerfeld was really amazing. Being able to shoot with all these photographers that I’ve only heard about or seen their pictures or seen them shoot supermodels… to be able to shoot with them is pretty surreal.
You called supermodels your superheroes when you were growing up. Who were your favorites then and now?
It’s pretty much stuck. I loved Kate (Moss) and I loved Naomi (Campbell) and Christy Turlington. My favorites now are pretty much the same… Cara (Delevingne) kills it every time. I love Candice (Swanepoel). She kills it. Her body is insane. She’s too perfect.
You mentioned Cara, she’s also a Penshoppe ambassador. Can you tell us a little about your friendship with her? We love that you have a hashtag (#CaKe) together.
She’s great. We just recently became really close. I would consider her one of my best friends. She’s like my sister. She’s awesome.
What did she think about you also becoming a Penshoppe ambassador?
Does she know? I don’t think she knows yet. I’m going to text her right now.
Did growing up in the limelight make it easy for you to transition to fashion, or did it make it more challenging?
I think in some ways it made it a little more challenging. I think people didn’t know whether to take me seriously or not, and no one really wanted to take a chance on me. Thank God, Marc Jacobs did. From then on, it’s just been a wild ride.
We interviewed your younger sister Kylie a couple of years ago and she talked about how she doesn’t remember what life was like before fame. Is it the same for you?
Yeah. I wouldn’t consider it before fame but before the TV show. I mean… I never consider myself famous, so I don’t know if that’s what I would call it…
I try and think of myself as the most normal person on the planet. I don’t know, it’s just my way of staying sane. I can remember memories before the show but I don’t remember what it was like before the TV show.
How do you handle it—the attention, the paparazzi?
You just can’t think of it too much. You can’t think of yourself as anything special. I get into my hotel room or into my room and I’m just like, alright… talking to my friends. I mean it’s not different when I’m alone or whatever.
Is there one thing that you wish journalists would stop asking you?
Stop asking me? Oh no, there’s a lot. Like, how to take a good selfie? I’m like, ah, I don’t know. Find your angle?
What’s one thing you wish they would ask that they don’t?
How was your day? (Laughs)
What’s the craziest rumor you’ve heard about yourself and how did you handle it?
Probably one of the weirdest is that of Scott (Disick, her sister Kourtney’s longtime boyfriend), I supposedly married Scott right now. I know. And we even talk about it, me and Khloe and Scott will talk about it on Twitter and people still go on and make new stories like, now I’m pregnant with his kid, and I’m like, are they doing this as a joke? Because I don’t know how they’re selling magazines. I don’t get it.
You’re on the road a lot, what do you miss the most about your family?
I miss their company. They’re like my best friends and I’m around them all the time. It’s hard to be away from people you’re literally around with every day.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your mom?
Oh God, she’s taught me so much. I’m trying to think of a good one. To stay crazy. I know that sounds weird but she keeps herself crazy, like she has such amazing energy. I think that’s one of the main things I’ve learned from her, to keep a good energy about yourself no matter what. She gets a little crazy sometimes.
From your dad, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned?
Dream big, work hard. I mean, that’s what he did. He literally, one day, was like, “I’m gonna win the Olympics.” And he did it.
What are five things you can’t live without?
Lollipops, my sisters… oh no, five is so much more than I thought.
Skinny jeans is a good one… I’m trying not to be materialistic here. Sleep. Water. I need to have water. Sleep.
What’s one thing you’d never wear?
I’m pretty adventurous. One thing I’d never wear… pleather.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for the love of fashion?
I thought you were going to say for love, I was like, we’re getting personal and deep. For the love of fashion? Um, the most recent thing I can think of is I literally flew out of Paris last week and then flew to New York for less than 24 hours and did a shoot and then flew to Paris for less than 24 hours and then flew to LA. That’s a lot. I’m trying to think of a better one though.
You’ve done a number of magazine covers; which has been your favorite so far and why?
I love all my Love covers. I sound like I’ve done 20. I’ve done only… three? Two? Two. And my Dazed one, I loved. Garage. Garage was really cool because it was like 3D.
What’s the craziest thing a fan has done to get your attention?
Someone kissed me the other day. Or tried to, like jumped on me.
In Paris. But that wasn’t… I think that was nice. I got a little scared because she came out of nowhere but I thought it was kinda cute.
Was she successful?
No. It all happened so fast, I don’t remember. She came really close.
Do you ever watch old episodes of your show?
Yes. I don’t watch new ones. I watch only old ones.
Like when you were a kid?
Yeah. That’s the best part. I don’t purposely watch them but if I’m scrolling through my TV and I see that an old one is on, I’ll stop and I’ll watch it because it’s so embarrassing.
Do you love the episodes where you pranked your mom?
Yeah it’s great. But our pranks were stupid. We’re better now.
So you haven’t stopped pranking people? Do you do it in the fashion world, too?
No. Oh my God, that would be such a bad idea.
What are you passionate about?
This is really random but one of my biggest passions is horseback riding. I grew up doing it and it’s something that I really enjoy, it’s my therapy.
Do you still get to do it now?
No. I stopped when I started modeling; and when I was in high school, I did cheerleading so it was a lot going on, so I stopped. It’s a huge responsibility. More recently, my mom’s best friend had a bunch of horses at her house, so I’ve actually been going out with her recently. But not as intense as I used to.
We know you love animals; how often do you get to see your dog since you’re away a lot?
I see them sometimes. I actually just had to babysit my little sister’s new puppy ’coz she went out of town for three days and she has this eight-week-old Italian Greyhound and it’s like this big and it’s so cute. I babysit her for a couple of days. Whenever I’m at my mom’s at home, I see them.
What’s something you still haven’t done that you want to do?
I had the opportunity to skydive for New Year’s and I got really sick so I couldn’t go. But I actually really want to skydive. Or bungee-jump.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Anything adventurous or outdoorsy. I love going to the beach. I love snowboarding. I love going out with my friends and just relaxing and doing nothing. Going on vacation.
Do you have plans to visit the Philippines?
I’d love to. Kylie went. That was so long ago. She loved it. She said it was fun. So I’d like to.
How to get Kendall’s look:
Stylist Simone Harouche (@simoneharouche) says, “I think Penshoppe’s collection is really accessible and the pieces mix well together. You can mix and match all the pieces. The denim line is really great, it fits really well.”
Makeup artist Sabrina Bedrani (@sabrinabmakeup): “This look was really natural, with just a little bit of the pop in the eyes. It’s all about fresh skin. Just basically letting her natural beauty come out. Nothing too dramatic. I always love what I call a Kate Moss eye, where you just do a really thin black line along the lash line on top and on the bottom and then a black liner inside. I always feel like it gives a modern fresh edge to it.”