Lauren Hutton Recalls the Moment She Transformed the Modeling Industry By Demanding Better Pay for Women
The Gigi Hadids and Kendall Jenners of fashion owe her a world of thanks.
Today, Lauren Hutton, an icon of all-American beauty since she began modeling in the early ’70s, defines aging gracefully. Criticized in her early days in the industry for her famously gap-toothed smiled, Hutton instead embraced the imperfection, turning it into her signature, and in the process defying fashion’s elusive beauty standards. In fact, Hutton’s always been something of a rule-breaker, which is why she’s one of the ultimate Royals featured in W‘s October issue. As a model, she was the first to demand a contract, scoring a $250,000 deal with Revlon that overnight changed the way models were compensated. “Within weeks, no girl was working by the hour,” she recalls in an interview. The Gigi Hadids and Kendall Jenners of fashion, with their astronomical advertising contracts, owe Hutton a world of gratitude. Along the way, Hutton also became one of the first models to successfully transition into a Hollywood career, landing iconic roles in now classic films like American Gigolo and The Gambler. But what she’s most proud of, she says, is being out there still—she turns 74 in November—working and making clear that women are beautiful at any age. It’s no wonder, then, why brands are still beckoning, from Bottega Veneta, which cast her alongside Hadid in its runway show around this time last year, to Calvin Klein, which featured her in its groundbreaking underwear campaign directed by Sofia Coppola.
When you decide that you wanted to be a model? I had to get to Africa, and I was totally unskilled at anything. And I wanted to be a painter, which, uh, wasn’t going to work out. My eyes were bigger than my stomach on that. And so I wanted to go to Africa next, and then I found out how much money it was gonna cost. And, you know, we didn’t have much information back in the ’60s. There was no such thing as all the things that are on television about the life now around the world.
So one of the parts of your career that I like the best are your movies, especially The Gambler, American Gigolo and also the movie made with Burt Reynolds, Gator. Quentin Tarantino showed me that movie. Did he? Gator? Well, bless him. I’ll tell you, Burt was one of the best directors I ever had. He was wonderful because he wouldn’t tell you what he was going to do if he wanted a particularly surprising effect because I guess he knew I had never studied, ever. So I couldn’t really act. It was all sort of au naturel. In Gator, I was a reporter. We have become lovers, and he’s out there taking care of the bad guys who are after all of us. In the end scene, I’m crying because I have been offered a chance to be an anchorwoman in New York, so I’m about to blow Augusta or Savannah or wherever we were in the movie. So, I’m saying goodbye to him, crying, snd he’s behind the camera, and suddenly he whips out from behind the camera. And he plays this Groucho Marx thing where he walks in this weird Groucho walk and started going, ‘La, la, la.’ And I started howling, and I’m crying and laughing all at the same time.
That’s a great scene. American Gigolo is such a classic now. Did you have trouble doing the nude scene? Well, the terrible part about it was the the cameraman, who is a great cameraman, was riding the top of this cherry-picker camera, so he was above us. And Richard [Gere] was on top of me in the bed, and, and I had been so unloved for so long with my senator husband that I started crying. It was moving, and, I guess, it was just so sad. And I didn’t know enough about movies at the time to understand that [the cameraman] was just on my face and that a hand blurring would be no good in a giant screen. And I tried to get the tears away because I thought it was something bad or wrong. I just didn’t know anything about, movies or film or anything.
21 Glamorous Photos That Prove Lauren Hutton Was the Original It-Girl
Lauren Hutton poses in a sleeveless dress in a pleated fabric by Mary McFadden, 1974
Lauren Hutton models herringbone overalls and a matching cape from Victor Joris’ Cuddlecoat collection, with wool socks and a helmet by Emme, circa 1975.
Lauren Hutton covers up while doing a photoshoot in a London studio, 1978.
Lauren Hutton pairs a fedora with a glass of Champagne.
Lauren Hutton shows off her legs in a mini-gold dress.
Lauren Hutton poses with a beer in hand following a taping of Saturday Night Live.
Lauren Hutton flashes her famous grin while wearing a gold blazer.
Lauren Hutton strikes a pose wearing a tailored suit and matching hat.
Lauren Hutton shows her Yankees pride in a team cap.
Lauren Hutton covers up, stifling a laugh, while debuting a brand new pixie cut.
Lauren Hutton appears stunned by the camera lens.
Ricard Gere and Lauren Hutton attend the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.
Lauren Hutton during 11th Annual Diana Vreeland Costume Exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York.
Lauren Hutton before her debut performance in “Extremities” at Coronet Theater in Los Angeles, California.
Lauren Hutton during 52nd Annual Academy Awards at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California.
Lauren Hutton during Italian Designers’ Gala at Rainbow Room in New York City, New York.
Lauren Hutton arrives to the 47th Academy Awards at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles,California.
Lauren Hutton at gallery opening for Peter Beard’s photos of Africa circa 1977 in New York City.
Lauren Hutton grabs a glass of Champagne in a sparkly dress at a fashion event.
Lauren Hutton opts to go behind the lens, a change for the model.
Lauren Hutton keeps it casual in a pair of track pants and white Converse.
[Laughs] Who did you have a crush on in the movies? Did you have a cinematic crush on anyone in film? Probably everybody I ever worked with. And in France, both Isabelle Adjani and Yves Montand at the same time, who wouldn’t? I was the go-between for the two of them. They were playing father and daughter, and I was the American mistress to Yves. And on the set they didn’t talk to each other. Yves certainly did, who is one of the best storytellers I have ever met outside of Gérard Depardieu and Bobby De Niro.
So I know you don’t want to go back in time, but I have to ask you about your Revlon contract because it was an amazing moment for women. Was there a moment where you knew that that’s what you wanted to do? The thing that was good about that, all through the ’60s and up to almost the middle ’70s, before I did the Revlon contract, we, models, worked by the hour. New York was the place because this is where you got the money. In Europe, you’d have to go get it for yourself or something ridiculous. I don’t know. I never worked in Europe, but I heard terrible stories. And so girls who were good came all over from Europe to New York to work. And I was the last man standing, and all the great models had quit or gone. Jean Shrimpton, Veruschka, Twiggy—everybody was sort of gone. And I was about to turn 31, which is horrifying. I mean, no one was anywhere near that age. And I’m reading the front page of the New York Times, and I read this thing about a great baseball player, and he’s about to turn 35 or 30 something. And he said ‘I’m in a youth-oriented business. I have to have a $1 million contract or else.’ I thought, ‘Right, I’m in a youth-oriented business.’ And I yelled over to my very smart man [former partner, Robert Williamson], and I said, ‘I need a contract. What do I do?’ And he didn’t even look up from his Wall Street Journal and said, ‘Tell, Tell Eileen [Ford] you won’t do any makeup ads from now on.’ She said, ‘Are you crazy? You did four this past year. That’s more than anybody.’ But of course I was getting $400.00 a day for those makeup ads– for the few day jobs that we had. So I didn’t do them anymore. And Bob also yelled over and said, ‘Tell all your photographers.’ So I did tell everybody, and Dick Avedon was the one who got it like that, and he said, ‘Make it exclusive.’ I remember laughing and saying, ‘No one could afford that.’ I was probably making $80,000 a year [laughs] or something. And, that’s what we did. Well, it changed everything almost overnight. Within weeks, no girl was working by the hour. All the hour jobs left. It took six months to work it all out.
Lauren Hutton Returns to the Runway Hand in Hand with Gigi Hadid at Bottega Veneta Spring 2017
Lauren Hutton walks the runway at the Bottega Veneta show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017.
Gigi Hadid and Lauren Hutton walk the runway at the Bottega Veneta show during Milan Fashion Week.
It was brave. It changed the whole industry. I don’t think it was as great as when I fought my way back at 47. I think that was a better thing because I just realized that I was looking at magazines and there was no one over 30 in them. And you sort of felt out and forgotten, and I wasn’t even 37 yet and I looked really good. So I called every editor that I had, from every magazine all over the Western world and said, ‘You know, we’re at this nexus in history where women have got to be allowed to represent.’
All right, one more question. What’s your secret skill? What are you good at that people would be surprised? F–king.
F–king? Mm-hmm. It’s an awfully good thing to love and be good at, no? And it goes forever, guys and girls. You should remember that.
Royals 2017: Why Pharrell Williams, Winona Ryder, Tracee Ellis Ross and More Are the Role Models of Today
Winona Ryder wears Fendi dress; Angela Friedman bra; M&S Schmalberg brooch; Fogal tights; Gucci shoes. Beauty: Chantecaille.
Tilda Swinton wears Loewe jacket, shirt, and pants. Beauty: Chanel.
Hailee Steinfeld wears Valentino dress. Beauty: Maybelline.
Tracee Ellis Ross wears Vetements dress. Beauty: Lâncome.
Saoirse Ronan wears Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello shirt and pants. Beauty: Nars.
Chris Hemsworth wears Boss shirt and pants; his own belt and necklace. Grooming: Hugo Boss.
Pharrell Williams wears Sacai shirt; Bulgari necklace (top); his own necklace. Grooming: Giorgio Armani.
Robert Pattinson wears Dior Homme turtleneck; Haider Ackermann pants. Grooming: Dior Homme.
James Corden wears Ann Demeulemeester shirt and hat. Grooming: Neutrogena.
Jared Leto wears Gucci jacket, shirt, and pants; M&S Schmalberg brooch; Artemas Quibble belt. Grooming: Gucci.
New Royalty: Movie Star
My first kiss was on set. It was my very first film as well. My character really liked this boy, and she didn’t know if he noticed her. In the end she got to kiss him. At that time, I was only 11 years old, and not ready to kiss a boy. I asked the director, “How long do you want me to kiss him? How many seconds?” And the director said, “Three seconds.” So while kissing, I counted in my head. Every single take I was like, One, two, three. And then: “Okay, kill, cut!” I definitely suffered for art.
Ronan wears a Louis Vuitton top, cape, and shoes; Falke tights.
Classic Royalty: Movie Star
Is there anything that scares you? I’m not easily scared, and I’m wary of being bored. I think risk-taking is a subjective thing. One person’s risk is another one’s comfort zone. And, to be honest, I’m too lazy to get easily scared. Maybe I’ve got a bit of my brain missing, but I love not knowing what I’m doing next. What about when it comes to clothes? Did you always have a fashion-forward outlook? Again, what somebody might think of as unusual is, to me, supercomfortable, inspiring, and interesting. I’ve never truly been that aware of fashion; I’m interested in style.
Swinton wears a Haider Ackermann shirt; Alexander Calder necklace from Stephen Russell, New York.
New Royalty: Renaissance Person
Where do you get your ideas? The shower is a frequent place. Actually, near any running water—whether it’s the faucet or the shower. And sometimes I get ideas on a plane because of the sound deprivation.
Do you record your ideas on your phone? I just hold on to them. The best way to remember something is if you home in on the excitement. That you don’t forget.
Is there a song that makes you cry? It’s been maybe 10 years since I heard something that made me cry. There is an old Donny Hathaway song called “Take a Love Song,” and it would make me emotional. But I think I was eating a lot of weed candy at the time, so that may have pushed me over the edge.
Whom do you consider Royal? Wes Anderson. I love what he does. Bill Murray running from a playground in Rushmore made me very happy. Anderson’s composition is amazing: his color, the music that he uses. I’m not an actor, but, in a heartbeat, I would just walk by or whatever he asked me to do in one of his films.
Williams wears a Chanel jacket and necklace; G-Star pants; Adidas Originals = Pharrell Williams shoes; his own shirt, belt, bracelets, ring, watch, and socks.
Classic Royalty: Renaissance Person
When did you start dancing? When I was 3. I loved it. I did recitals and I loved being onstage. I particularly loved the collective mind of the audience. Applause was nice, but I liked the silence of the audience better. The silence means, Oh, my! You have their rapt attention.
MacLaine wears an Akris turtleneck.
Classic Royalty: Activist
I came to New York in the ’70s to become president of Planned Parenthood. It was a time of great difficulty for the city—and for the country—but also one when women made tremendous progress toward being in control of their lives and their bodies. My position allowed me to be a spokesperson for women in the midst of the great changes that were taking place and the turmoil that occurred as a result of them. Today, 40 years later, the continuing opposition to Planned Parenthood comes from people who want to roll back the clock.
Wattleton wears a Row coat; Vhernier earrings; Verdura necklace.
New Royalty: Activist
When I was 11, my parents gave me an iPhone. I think it shaped who I am as a person because I had access to everything very, very early on. But now I’m 18 and I have gotten rid of it. I was worried about the mental-health effects it was having on me. The phone was taking over my life. I felt like I was floating away, and part of that had to do with being in a virtual world without any tangible substance. I felt like I was always refreshing Instagram instead of refreshing my life.
Stenberg wears a Prada top; Buccellati earrings.
New Royalty: Renaissance Person
To me, Paula Abdul is royalty. I just saw her live, and the whole time I was watching her, I was hitting the person next to me and saying, “Oh. My. God. Yes!” I’m late to the game, but Paula Abdul is completely amazing.
Steinfeld wears an Yves Salomon coat; Nili Lotan dress; Mahnaz Collection ring; Lynn Ban earring.
New Royalty: Renaissance Person
There were eight boys in The History Boys, and we were all at a similar point in our careers. The other seven would get incredible scripts for Spielberg movies or big HBO shows, and I would get a one-page script for the guy who drops off a TV for Hugh Grant. I remember thinking, These decisions are being made based on the way I look. I realized then and there that I needed to try and start creating stuff on my own. And I did.
Corden wears a Berluti jacket; Burberry shirt; Balenciaga scarf.
New Royalty: Society
The notion of being born into the right stratosphere no longer exists. More and more, young people want to dedicate their lives to doing something meaningful that has a positive effect on the world. That’s what is valued now—not your name or your lineage.
Bush Lauren wears a Ralph Lauren shirt; Zimmerli of Switzerland tank; Hermès scarves; Vicki Turbeville earrings; vintage bracelet from Stazia Loren, New York.
Classic Royalty: Society
You got involved with God’s Love We Deliver during the ’80s AIDS epidemic. It was a terrible time. We delivered meals to people who were sick. A lot of my friends thought I had lost my mind. There was so much fear.
How did you meet Robert Trump? At a fundraiser. We were married in 1984. But years later things changed, and, in 2007, we divorced.
Did you go to your former brother-in-law’s presidential inauguration? Yes. It was kind of an out-of-body experience. [Laughs] It’s like, Am I really here? I went to all the balls, and there was a wonderful small lunch, and Donald and Melania were there. She looked beautiful.
Is it strange to see your last name everywhere? Yes—very, very strange. I mean, forget paying with a credit card. It’s always, “Are you related?” It never ends.
Trump wears a Chloé dress; David Webb earrings.
New Royalty: Model
I always go into a zone when I’m posing for a photographer. I like to try and get into whatever character is wanted for the photos. For this shoot, I tried to be kind of vulnerable and soft because I can be quite hard with my resting bitch face. I wanted to look innocent, but mysterious. And royal. Very royal.
Aboah wears a Calvin Klein 205W39NYC dress; Stephen Russell earrings; Vhernier bracelets; her own rings.
Classic Royalty: Model
What is your secret skill? Fucking.
Fucking? Mm-hmmm. It’s an awfully good thing to be good at, no? And it goes on forever, guys and girls. You should remember that.
Hutton wears a Row coat.
Classic Royalty: Superhero
My first audition was for some random sort of commercial. I remember walking in and having to tell them about myself, and none of it was very interesting because I never got those jobs. My first regular acting gig was on a soap opera called Home and Away. I did that for three and a half years, and I went through every melodramatic tragedy that one can go through: plane crashes, fires, robberies, landslides. I had three different kids with three different women. And my character was 19 for three years. I never had a birthday. Never aged.
Hemsworth wears a Boss jacket, shirt, and pants; Western Spirit bolo tie; stylist’s own belt.
New Royalty: Superhero
I don’t fuck with karaoke. I tried it once, and it was the biggest disaster. The song I bombed on was “Eye of the Tiger.” It was at a wedding, in front of hundreds of people. The only line of the song that I knew was “eye of the tiger,” so I just mumbled, and it was awful. Deep shame. Now I stick to singing my own songs onstage with my band, Thirty Seconds to Mars. There are some things you just know you’re not good at.
Leto wears an Ann Demeulemeester shirt; Gucci pants; Mikimoto pearls; his own ring and necklace.
New Royalty: Television
As a boy, I was very, very sensitive. Ever the emotional young thing. In eighth grade, a drama teacher put me in a play, and I got really involved with theater. Within a year, all the kids who were making fun of me were my allies. I remember thinking, Instead of being a weird guy in the corner of the classroom, now I’m the weird guy that everyone has to pay attention to! And, like, Wow—maybe someone will kiss me!
Middleditch wears a Prada shirt; Coach 1941 pants; Artemas Quibble belt; Calvin Klein 205W39NYC boots.
Classic Royalty: Television
Since signing on to Stranger Things, I’ve become a binge-watcher of TV. My favorite show is The Americans. It’s brilliant, and Keri Russell is just mind-blowing. I watched the entire last season all at once, and I was crushed when it ended. I met Keri, and I was like, “What’s going to happen?!” I had turned into a fan-geek. But she wouldn’t tell me. Everyone in TV has to keep things a big secret—which I’m learning.
Ryder wears a Dior dress and hat.
New Royalty: Movie Star
I didn’t think I could play Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton. I was asked to audition, and I remember saying no because I didn’t want to be the one to mess it up. I was nervous because it was Dr. Dre. And now, after the film, I walk down the street and people ask, “Is that Dr. Dre?” Nobody did that before Compton. Now everybody does it.
Hawkins wears a Giorgio Armani jacket, shirt, and pants; Tom Ford shoes.
Classic Royalty: Movie Star
What was your first acting job? When I was 15 or 16, I was cast as Reese Witherspoon’s son in the film Vanity Fair. I went to the screening, and no one had informed me that I had been cut from the film. But the casting director felt so guilty that she gave me a first run at the part of Cedric in Harry Potter, which I booked. So, in the end, I was quite glad to have been cut from Vanity Fair.
How did you prepare for your role as a bank robber on the run in Good Time? I stayed in character for several days and got a job at a car wash. I wanted to change myself so that people would not be able to recognize me for the whole shoot. And it worked. We were filming in a packed subway at rush hour; I was directed by text message, and no one could tell we were making a movie. Not one person took a cell-phone picture, which would have ruined the whole thing. It was great to not be recognized.
Pattinson wears a Berluti jacket; Charvet scarf.
Classic Royalty: Television
After Everybody Loves Raymond ended, it wasn’t hard to say no to other sitcom offers. This sounds awful, but I had all the money I needed, my wife had all the money she needed, and creatively I wanted to do other things. I thought, Suddenly I have time, I have money, I have a bit of fame, and this is going to be fun. After three months, it wasn’t fun anymore. I had a kind of emotional breakdown until I started creating the next show. People ask me sometimes, “How do you keep going?” And I like to say, “I have to keep moving, or I catch up with myself.”
Romano wears a Balenciaga shirt.
New Royalty: Television
Your mom is Diana Ross. Did you ever borrow her clothes? I’m not going to lie: It was more like stealing. One time, she left the house and I saw her car go down the driveway. I marched myself into her bathroom and started taking clothes. I liked to put them in my closet and live with them as if they were mine. Just as I was loading up, my mom walked into the bathroom. She said, “What are you doing?!” I was like, “I’m organizing your closet for you!” To this day, I visit her closet and call it shopping.
Ross wears an Alexander McQueen dress; Gianvito Rossi shoes.
Watch: Model Gigi Hadid Reveals the Secret to Her Signature Runway Walk
Model Gigi Hadid Reveals the Secret to Her Signature Runway Walk