The spinning wheel of a loading Zoom meeting finished its rotation, and a black box appeared on the screen with the name “Lisa Rinna” on the left-hand side. But when the camera finally turned on, it wasn’t the soap actress and Real Housewife who appeared, but her 21-year-old daughter, Amelia Gray.
“Oh my god, does it say my mom’s name?” Gray asked with an embarrassed laugh. The New York–based model was calling from her parents’ house in Los Angeles, where she was decompressing after a fashion month during which she went from “another Bravo baby trying to make it in fashion” to a bona fide model. Between New York, Milan, London, and Paris, Gray proved her chops on nine runways, including the mud-covered one at Balenciaga. Originally, her sights had been set on sitting front row, but a last-minute booking threw her directly into the action. She walked the treacherous path in a crystal-covered dress so heavy, it literally brought her to tears. “I got off the runway and collapsed onto a bench backstage,” she recalled. “I started hysterically crying because somehow I had managed to not fall.”
Gray had wanted to be a model since she was 5 years old, aside from a brief interim when she considered a slightly different path. “I thought I could be a cop,” she said. “I entertained that for a minute.” About a year ago, after relocating from Los Angeles to New York City, she purchased a stack of fashion bibles at Casa Magazines, the West Village mecca for printed matter, and headed to a friend’s loft for an evening of arts and crafts. Cutting out images from W, Perfect, and CR Fashionbook, Gray created a dream board that represented the future she saw for herself. “We burned candles and played music and guided meditations while we sat on the floor, boarding for probably five hours,” she said. “I know it sounds hoo-ha witchy, but I really believe in the power of positive thinking.”
Her evening of collaging worked. She began, like many aspiring models do, by staging photo shoots with photographer friends for Instagram. Eventually, gigs started rolling in, and in the ensuing months, she appeared in campaigns for Michael Kors and Versace, and walked in runway shows for LaQuan Smith and Jacquemus. A well-timed eyebrow bleaching helped Gray stand out among the sea of beautiful angular faces, just as much as it helped her find her own confidence. “I know who I am now,” she said. “I know my worth.”
Gray’s rise in the industry marks the third time the offspring of a Real Housewives star has successfully made a mark on the fashion world (ever heard of Gigi and Bella Hadid?). In this day and age, when the public is so quick to raise their pitchforks at the sight of what the Internet has dubbed “nepo babies,” Gray is unbothered, instead focusing on the Hadid North Star to help guide her path. “Watching Bella work so hard has definitely inspired me,” she said. “She is the queen. I bow down to her.” In fact, Gray is refreshingly realistic about the advantages she’s been afforded, in that she actually acknowledges them. “The way I grew up was an asset,” she said. “I can’t sit here and deny that. No situation is solely positive or negative, but I do know that I’m really lucky.” Lucky, sure, but evidently also really good with a glue stick.
Hair by Claire Grech for Maria Nila at Streeters; makeup by Miranda Joyce at Streeters; manicure by Emily Rose Lansley for Bio Sculpture at Saint Luke Artists. Model: Amelia Gray at Linden Staub. Casting by Anita Bitton at Establishment New York.
Produced by Ragi Dholakia Productions; Executive Producer: Ragi Dholakia; Producer: Claire Huish; Photo assistants: Romain Dubus, Pierre Lequeux; Digital Technician: Henri Coutant; Retouching: Stephane Virlogeux; Fashion assistants: Antoni Jankowski, Melina Frangos; Production assistants: Seline Matei, Cat Pavitschitz; Hair assistant: Kirsten Bassett; Makeup assistant: Faye Bluff.