SHANGHAI: For the most part, Hailey Baldwin keeps her head down. Her left hand – the one sporting that huge diamond engagement ring – clutches her iPhone with the type of grip you would demonstrate if you were transporting hard copies of government secrets across a communist border. Inside a huge marquee with hundreds of models, make-up artists and stylists bustling about ahead of Tommy Hilfiger’s Fall 2018 fashion show, I’m surprised Baldwin – the face of the new Tommy ICONS range – is seated smack bang in the middle of it. Her foundation base is already done as the makeup begins (because there’s a million photographers about and every model needs to convince the Instagram world that they started their makeup journey with photo-finish skin).
While her head is down, 21-year-old Baldwin knows I just took her picture. She scans the room with a side eye and while she’s scrolling her phone, her eyes dart just above it as she keeps an eye on who has an eye on her.
Unlike Formula One Grand Champion Lewis Hamilton – this season’s capsule collection’s designer – who has 17 people follow him in an entourage that most definitely rivals Vinnie Chase’s, Baldwin walks about the room solo.
It’s a different girl – a more grown-up girl – who just 18 months ago was fourth billing to Gigi and Bella Hadid and Devon Windsor at Hilfiger’s SS17 show in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. There, it was almost an impossible feat for a make-up artist to do her job on Baldwin as the model continually accepted selfie requests from prying journalists and influencers. Tonight in Shanghai, this is her show and her laser beam focus is as sharp as Shanghai’s city night lights.
As we’re given permission by somebody with a clipboard to enter the dressing room of Baldwin, Joan Smalls, Josephine Skriver and Winnie Harlow (we caught up with the latter just a couple of weeks ago in Brooklyn, New York), Baldwin is fidgeting with her first outfit, a red crop and tracksuit pants a la the TLC days. “I feel like I need more padding,” she says to Skriver who inspects her friend’s outfit, Baldwin’s frame so slight. Both Baldwin and Harlow – who seem a foot shorter than a towering Smalls and Skriver – are fitted in platform boots probably to boost their height, their tall counterparts comparatively in Tommy-branded socks and slides.
Harlow admits to me she’s nervous and we chat Tommy, icons in her life, how much she loves my lipstick and how she got her body in shape for tonight’s show (read: she’s been working hard). Baldwin, though, is just quiet – she definitely knows I took her picture and truly there’s nothing worse than someone who pretends not to take a photo and then actually does under the transparent guise of ‘I need this for social media. For my work. Definitely not for my own Instagram’. Note to self, next time, just own it, because Baldwin now doesn’t trust you and probably won’t answer your question about if she and fiancé Justin Bieber would consider a His & Her capsule collection with Hilfiger.
As Baldwin hits the runway, her walk is so striking, she demands attention in a way I’ve never seen her. From the three-minute long cement runway in Venice Beach to one of the world’s most beautiful runways in Shanghai tonight – look at that lit-up skyline – Baldwin has turned up the It Girl factor. We wonder where she put her phone for the show.
While I have you, here’s a shot of Lewis Hamilton and me outside the after-party. I can report he doesn’t mind having a photo.