Punk’s not dead as long as the British model Hannah Bennett is on the runways. Born in London, the 21-year-old was first discovered by an IMG account on Instagram. But she’s decidedly not an “Insta-girl,” as she calls it. She doesn’t dress up for street style, she doesn’t have any style icons, and if she wants to post a “sh-t selfie” she’s going to post a sh-t selfie. “You have to be yourself when you’re getting dressed, otherwise you’re just going to look like sh-t,” she said matter-of-factly on set for W magazine’s resort 2017 polka-dot shoot.
After being signed to IMG, Bennett dropped out of school at York, where she was in her first year, and got a Visa in September to walk at New York Fashion Week after making her debut for Charlotte Olympia in London. She’s since walked Off-White, Fendi, Coach, and Alexander Wang—although this season in New York she was more about the after parties than the runways.
Last season at Alexander Wang, Guido Palau bleached her hair and eyebrows. But prior to that, he gave her a game-changing haircut when he cut her long blonde hair into a ’70s style mullet. While some girls may have she tears over such a drastic makeover, Bennet welcomed it with a shrug. “It really did feel like me,” she said. “It worked.”
Get to know the rule-breaking, fun-loving British model in time for London Fashion Week, below.
When did you first get into modeling? I actually got scouted on Instagram, which is really kind of weird. I was part-way through university and a scout somehow found my profile. I had like 300 followers; I’m not one of those Insta-girls whose got like 8 million. She liked a bunch of my pictures and messaged her like, ‘Hi? This is weird?’ I thought most girls started when they were 16 and I was nearly 20 at the time. She actually works in Paris, but she got me in touch with the IMG in London and I went in, did a test shoot, and they signed me.
Has your Instagram grown since you were discovered? It’s quite interesting, because when I first started out everything needed to be pretty and professional. But then I got so bored of that. I was like, ‘If I want to post a sh-t selfie, I’m going to post a sh-t selfie.’ I’m not one of those girls that wears makeup every day and looks beautiful and pretty. I’d rather post weird sh-t that’s more me.
What were you like as a kid? Were you in to fashion? I have two brothers, so I was a bit of a tomboy. As I got older, I started to like dressing up more, but as a kid I was all about climbing trees. When you’re with brothers all day, they don’t want to play with Barbies.
How would you describe your style now? Whatever’s clean. [Laughs.] I mean, I love vintage shopping; I’m still quite boyish; I don’t wear florals; 90-percent of my wardrobe is black and gray. But I also like wearing a piece that’s a little bit weird or unusual, and they everything else is based around it. I’m not about the “look at me,” street style stuff, though.
Has London influenced you at all? I’ve walked into castings before and they look at me and go: ‘So, you’re from London.’ I guess it’s because I walk around wearing Velvet Underground and Sex Pistols t-shirts. I think London style is so eclectic though; there’s not one look because it’s such a big city.
What music do you like to listen to? Old rock ‘n’ roll, plus some softer stuff, because you can’t always be in a badass mood. Sometimes you need to chill and breathe with stuff like Bon Iver.
Do you have any style icons or people who influence your wardrobe? People are always asking about influencers, but I think if you’re style is influenced by one person, then you stop dressing like yourself. You have to be yourself when you’re getting dressed, otherwise you’re just going to look like sh-t. At the end of the day, you’re not that person and you don’t have the time to look like that person.
What do you like to do for fun? I love vintage shopping and going out to bars. I’m usually around Soho and the East Village. I love the East Village, there’s so much good food there.
Have you had any memorable moments on set or on the runway? Almost exactly a year ago, they cut my hair on set. It was like my second editorial and I shot for Self Service. Guido Palau cut my hair and it was the beginning of everything. I used to wear it below my shoulders with a middle-part. And he looks at me and goes, ‘Can we go short?’ And it’s Guido, so you can’t say no. He ended up cutting it into this funny little ’70s mullet. I had no idea what it looked like until I got home though. It literally took over a week to not do a double take every time I walked past a mirror.
Did your new haircut change the way you dressed or carried yourself? Oh my god, I went out and bought a whole new wardrobe! But it really did feel like me. It worked.
Have you done runway at all? Yeah, and back in September for Alexander Wang, they bleached my hair. They bleached the f–k out of it. It took nine hours. And then they bleached my eyebrows. They dyed them back after the show, but I got in the shower the next morning and all the dye came out. When I rubbed the mirror I literally screamed thinking that my eyebrows were gone.
Your hair has been through a lot. How do you keep it healthy? I’ve been told that I have to condition it as much as possible and wash it as little as possible. My hair is usually a bit curly, and after it was bleached it was just dead straight. I can tell when it’s getting healthier though when the curls come back. It’s like, ‘Okay! We’re doing good!’
Any fashion week mantras? You’ve got to just find it funny. When it’s all going to sh-t, you’ve gotta just be like, ‘Okay, so that’s how this is going.’ If you try and take it too seriously, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. You also can’t take anything personally. I’m just taking it one day at a time.
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