In person, Grace Elizabeth is every bit as unnervingly gorgeous as she looks in fashion editorials or stomping down the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway. But when she begins to talk, her Southern twang still loud and clear, you are immediately put at ease—this is a fun, goofy, maybe even dorky girl, who just happens to be a supermodel.
Take, for instance, her recent 21st birthday. Rather than rent out a celebrity hotspot and call in some designer to create a custom look, Elizabeth (whose last name is Cabe, but professionally she goes by her first and middle name) headed back home to Florida. “I know I’m supposed to say I did a keg stand, but I didn’t,” she said. “I went home and had a white chocolate fountain. I had 50 of my family members come and all my little cousins, and we had the fountain with strawberries and marshmallows and Rice Krispie Treats.”
It’s not as if there’s any lack of glamour in Elizabeth’s life on a regular basis. For the past five years, she has become one of the modeling world’s most in-demand stars, appearing in campaigns for everyone from Victoria’s Secret to Chanel to Gap, walked in countless runways, and appeared on every major magazine cover you can imagine. And it all started, of all places, in Florida. “I started when I was 16 back home just doing small local stuff,” she explained. “Then my mom sent in my photos and I went to Next in Lake City when I was 17 and signed with them. I was still in school, so in my junior year, I only went out [to gigs] in Christmas and weekends. Senior year, I went online, and that’s when I started really coming to New York.”
Her career then really took off not in New York but Paris, when she booked a spot in the Miu Miu show during Paris Fashion Week in 2016. “I did this prom thing for the first six months that I lived here and thought, If something does not change, I’m going to have to go home,” Elizabeth recalled. “But then Katie Grand put me in a Miu Miu show. I was third out and I remember thinking, I’m the third one out and if I fall, everyone is going to see because there is not going to be 10 girls already out there. I was so nervous. Taylor Hill was right in front of me, and I remember Miuccia Prada came up to me and was like, ‘You’re gorgeous, you’re going to be fine.’ And I was like, ‘Okay! Whatever you say.’”
Grace Elizabeth Models Fall’s Most Lust-Worthy Accessories
Sergio Rossi boots; Gucci tights; Loewe fur collar; Chloé arm cuff; Etro bracelets; Alexander McQueen bangle; Max Mara top; Paco Rabanne skirt; stylist’s own gloves.
Jimmy Choo boots; Fogal tights; Cornelia James gloves; Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. bangle; Herno cape.
Loewe bag (worn as necklace) and leather bracelet; Alexander McQueen bangle; Cornelia James gloves; Chloé turtleneck; Bottega Veneta cardigan.
Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello bracelets and dress; Louis Vuitton shoes; Gucci tights.
Tod’s bag; Bottega Veneta shoes; Fogal tights; Marni cuffs; Cornelia James gloves; Chloé skirt.
Fendi boots; Fogal tights; Valentino dress; Chloé top.
Hermès bag; Pomellato ring; Cartier beaded ring; Loewe fur collar; Akris lace top; Sandro sweater (underneath).
Salvatore Ferragamo bag; Coach 1941 boots; Fogal tights; Marni bangle and skirt; Cornelia James gloves; Giorgio Armani sweater.
She’s doing more than fine. This season alone, Elizabeth has already walked for Jeremy Scott, Brandon Maxwell, and Prabal Gurung, among many more. “I love fashion week,” she said. “I do. It’s one of my favorite things. When I first started, I was told I wasn’t really a show girl, so now it’s kind of my thing. I just love it. The 30 seconds you are out there, your heart is racing. You can hear it thumping. I even love the running around. In Paris, you always see models jumping on motorbikes and I thought that was made up, but it’s not. You literally run out of a show, jump on a motorbike, and are squeezing in hoping your knees aren’t knocked off my car mirrors. It’s insane. It’s so much fun.”
Among her favorite fashion week memories? “Chanel, of course,” she said. “Karl [Lagerfeld] always puts up the most extravagant displays. I met him three seasons ago when I did a Resort show. Our first shooting was for a look-book, and I’ve done the campaign. He’s incredible. He takes maybe three pictures, so don’t sneeze, because that might be the shot. He has such a vision and likes things to be real and raw. And he’s one of the sweetest, funniest people to be around.”
Beyond fashion week, Elizabeth has also walked perhaps the most coveted runway of them all: the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. “My first one was a dream come true,” she said. “When I was seventeen, and first walked into Next Models and they asked me what was my goal, I said, ‘I want to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel.’ Adriana Lima talked to me before the first VS show and said, ‘You’re not alone. Take every step and second of it to your heart and feel powerful and embrace it. You’re never going to forget your first show.’” Lima was right, for better or worse. “The first people I saw when I walked out were my parents, which I was not expecting to,” she said. “It almost stopped me dead in my tracks. I was like, ‘Hi, Dad.’ But it’s been one of the most empowering experiences to be around all of these girls and we’ve really bonded.”
Of course, walking in the most famous runway show in the world comes with its perils, as well—namely, a lot of texts and DMs from just about everyone you’ve ever had a minor interaction with. “Oh yeah. ‘I babysat you when you were two years old. I’m your uncle twice removed from something or another,’” she deadpanned. “I’m like, ‘I’ve never met you.’”
These days, Elizabeth boasts nearly 600,000 Instagram followers, which as the face of both Estee Lauder and Victoria’s Secret PINK, she does not take lightly. “It’s quite tricky,” she said. “You have to be personal and also impersonal. You have to represent your brands, but you have to represent yourself as well. And you also have things that you are really passionate about and want to share. You have to somehow mix them all together in some crazy, beautiful chaos of Instagram.”
“When I first started, I had like a 100 followers, and it was like the kids I went to school with,” she continued. “My mom wouldn’t even let me have Facebook until I was 15, so social media was something that was new to me. Victoria’s Secret really helped me a lot; I think I got 50,000 followers in one day. Speaking with your followers and communicating with them, I feel like it is important to interact so they feel that you are connected. It gives you such a platform to speak your beliefs and things you want to speak to other people.”
Rest assured, Elizabeth has not let the immense following go to her head, thanks in large part to her friends and family. “They are very supportive, and they don’t quite get it, but I’m still the same person when I started and my personality hasn’t changed much,” she said. “When I go home, my grandma puts me to work. She’s like, ‘Can you change my curtain rod?’ They call me Miss Hollywood every now and then, but they treat me the same.”
So what’s next for a 21-year-old supermodel? For one, maybe an eventual transition into acting. “I have had an [acting] audition before, and it’s really crazy because it really is like what you see in the movies; there are people playing instruments or rapping with each other and then you have people fake crying in the hallway,” she said. “Then you go in and there’s a chair with a lamp and you have to jump into it. It was quite a shock. With modeling, we are kind of acting in a way without words, but when you add words into it and have to do these small gestures, it’s quite a big difference. You definitely have to take classes.” (Casting directors, let the record show that she has natural comedic chops, and a taste for a certain kind of funny: “I think the only person that I would be starstruck about is Jim Carrey,” Elizabeth said. “I love Jim Carrey. Him and Adam Sandler. I just think they are hilarious. My dad and I used to watch a lot of comedies.”)
But first, there’s plenty more modeling to be done. “It’s a crazy lifestyle, but eventually it’s just your norm,” she said. “I plan on staying on this until the wrinkles come, and even then, hopefully there is some magical cream that has been invented.”