At a moment when it seems like every celebrity who’s ever washed her face is launching a beauty line, Kendall Jenner is taking a different path: In July, the model and entrepreneur signed on as L’Oréal’s newest global ambassador. Why partner with a 114-year-old brand instead of starting her own thing? “I love wearing makeup, playing around with it, and learning from makeup artists on set, but I never really saw myself being in a lab creating products,” says Jenner. “I think I’ll leave that to the pros who know what they’re doing and have a passion for it—like my sisters.” (For any readers whose medicine cabinets contain only toothpaste and Q-tips, Jenner’s siblings include Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, whose combined contributions to the cosmetics industry have been valued at well over a billion dollars.)
Jenner was 11 years old when she was pulled into the spotlight as the second-youngest member of the most famous family on the planet. In the early seasons of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, she was notably uninterested in preening for the TV crew. Modeling, on the other hand, seems to come to her with preternatural ease. At 15, she made her runway debut for Sherri Hill, a designer known for her prom- and homecoming-friendly styles. (Afterward, Jenner tweeted about the experience with the hashtag #imaddictedtorunway!)
But her true entrée into the world of high fashion came three years later, with her turn at the Marc Jacobs fall 2014 show. She appeared with an auburn bob and bleached eyebrows, confidently wearing a sheer, nipple-baring knit tucked into cropped jodhpur pants and looking like she’d been doing it forever. In the nine years since, she’s built one of the most successful modeling careers ever, embodying and amplifying the visions of everyone from Miuccia Prada to the late Karl Lagerfeld. A legacy beauty contract is the perfect jewel in her carefully wrought crown.
Even though she stays booked and busy, she’s still finding time to flex her entrepreneurial muscles. In 2021, she founded a small-batch tequila brand called 818. It sold 136,000 cases (that’s 1.5 million bottles) in its first seven months and has been growing steadily ever since. Balancing multiple endeavors comes with its challenges, but she’s relishing the effort it takes to be on top. “I’ve learned to be a leader, and to recognize that my energy affects everybody else’s energy,” she says. “It’s about keeping it positive, uplifting, and really driven. I want everybody to feel inspired at all times, so I’ve been learning how to play that role and be that person for the whole team.”
Of course, it’s also in her blood. Her mother, Kris Jenner, is one of the fiercest dealmakers of the contemporary era. “I come from a long line of businesswomen—even my grandmother and my great-grandmother had their own businesses. I watched them when I was very, very young, and I watched my mom find her way,” notes Jenner. “She never went through any sort of training to do the things that she did. She just bossed it out.”
But if her idols are any indication, Jenner has no plans to completely ditch catwalks for boardrooms anytime soon. “Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford are my inspirations,” she says. “I just love how they moved with class and they’ve aged with class. They’re two people I’d love to model my career after—pun intended.”
What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
My whole first season was super important for me. I was completely in shock over the shows that I was getting, like Chanel and Marc Jacobs. I just felt really honored. The production of those shows is so big—I was in awe at the amount of effort that went into them. Everything was such a moment, such a spectacle.
Are there any designers who are important people in your life?
The people who really believed in me from my first season: Riccardo Tisci, Karl Lagerfeld, and Marc Jacobs.
Your style gets a lot of attention, and lately there’s been talk of how you’ve been embodying the “quiet luxury” trend. How would you describe your personal aesthetic?
If you go back in time, I think you’ll find I’ve always had that aspect to my style. But also, I feel that I’ve been very versatile throughout my life. I love the elegance of certain things, but I’ll also do an easy, comfortable, cool-girl vibe. I love a waist snatcher, but I also love a baggier moment. I find myself looking at Jane Birkin a lot. She was the coolest and so elegant, but there was so much sex appeal. Sometimes she’d wear something sheer and her boobs and butt would be out, and I love stuff like that. She was really not afraid to take risks.
Your work involves a ton of travel. How do you stay balanced when you’re on a plane basically half of the year?
I always make time for friends. Being on the road a lot can get really lonely, but staying in touch with people keeps me grounded and happy.
What are some of your favorite destinations when you’re not working?
Anywhere where no one can find me. Somewhere very remote where I’m living the most normal life possible; that’s where I want to be.
Hair by Benjamin Muller at MA+Talent; makeup by Thomas de Kluyver for Gucci Beauty at Art Partner; manicure by Anatole Rainey for Chanel Le Vernis at Premier Hair and Makeup. Model: Kendall Jenner at the Society Management. Casting by Piergiorgio Del Moro and Samuel Ellis Scheinman at DM Casting. Set design by Nicola Scarlino at Blaze Paris.
Produced by January Productions; executive producer: Leonard Cuinet; local producer: Afif Baroudi; production coordinators: Barbara Eyt, José Rodriguez Grijalva; photo assistants: Kai Cem Narin, John Neate, Joris Rossi, Hugo Varaldi; digital operator: Niccolo Pacilli; digital assistant: Cassian Gray; lab: Dreamer; fashion assistants: Arnaud Buisson, Marlene Le Gall; production assistants: Jules Guibourg, Anthony Abikhzer, Sofiane Baziz; hair assistants: Lauren Berrones, Shannon Davison, Mills Mouchopeda; makeup assistants: Abbie Nourse, Josh Bart; set design assistant: Sacha Gabilan; set dressers: Amin Bidar, Manon Colin.