FASHION

Lex Herl, New York Fashion Week’s Breakout Star, Was Discovered at a Rock Concert

The Wisconsin native made her runway debut at Calvin Klein and went on to walk Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, Altuzarra, and more. Here, she shares her fashion week survival tips.


@lex.herl

Just over a week ago, 17-year-old model Lex Herl stepped on to the runway at New York Fashion Week for the first time. That first walk is an auspicious occasion for any model, but for Herl, the significance was twofold: She was walking in the most anticipated show of the season, Raf Simons’s debut as chief creative officer of Calvin Klein.

“It was just really exhilarating,” Herl said, recalling her first show. “I thought it would be pretty tense, but it was extremely lighthearted. Everyone was having a good time.”

Herl went on to walk a wildly varied sequence of shows that reads like a roster of the coolest brands in New York fashion: Alexander Wang, Altuzarra, Proenza Schouler, Tory Burch, Sies Marjan, Coach, Victoria Beckham, Narciso Rodriguez, and Derek Lam. (Though she’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite from among that bunch, she cited the white fur coat she wore at Tory Burch among her favorites.) That diverse lineup, and additional grueling days of modeling looks for designers, offered Herl a crash course in honing her walk. With sharply angled cheekbones and deep blue eyes, Herl is something of a chameleon on the runway; “I really base the attitude on the music,” she explained. “When everyone’s getting ready for the show, there’s a different vibe.”

Yet for all she’s taken to the fashion world, the Wisconsin native (with a midwest drawl to prove it) didn’t imagine herself a model, nor did she much follow the fashion world, till the opportunity was presented to her. A high school senior, Herl had planned to attend the University of Notre Dame come fall, studying medicine or nutrition. But last summer, she went to a Cheap Trick concert with her parents — who used to work with the band — and the wife of one of the band members referred her to Ford Models. She signed with the agency and plunged into thick of modeling, preparing for New York Fashion Week even as her college acceptance letters came rolling in. School and modeling can be a tough balancing act to navigate, but at the advice of Proenza Schouler designer Lazaro Hernandez, Herl is taking things slow: “He told me, don’t make any decisions too quickly, and just appreciate where you are at the moment.”

Herl had a few days’ respite back home in Wisconsin before heading off to Milan Fashion Week, where she walked in no less than Prada and Fendi’s Fall 2017 shows; we caught up with her over the phone just prior to her departure to learn more about the breakout star and the beauty and wellness tips that got her through her very first fashion week.

Lex Herl, Fall 2017’s Runway MVP, Has Walked Only the Coolest Shows

Lex Herl walks the runway at Tory Burch Fall 2017 in New York, New York, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Fendi Fall 2017 in Milan, Italy, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway opening Sies Marjan Fall 2017 in New York, New York, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway in her debut at Calvin Klein Fall 2017 in New York, New York, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Prada Fall 2017 in Milan, Italy, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway opening Altuzarra Fall 2017 in New York, New York, February 2017.

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Lex Herl appears at the Derek Lam Fall 2017 presentation in New York, New York, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Proenza Schouler Fall 2017 in New York, New York, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Narciso Rodriguez Fall 2017 in New York, New York, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Coach 1941 Fall 2017 in New York, New York, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Alexander Wang Fall 2017 in New York, New York, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Victoria Beckham Fall 2017 in New York, New York, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Tod’s Fall 2017 in Milan, Italy, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Diesel Black Gold Fall 2017 in Milan, Italy, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Jil Sander Fall 2017 in Milan, Italy, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Bottega Veneta Fall 2017 in Milan, Italy, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini 2017 in Milan, Italy, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Marni Fall 2017 in Milan, Italy, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Maison Margiela Fall 2017 in Paris, France, March 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Salvatore Ferragamo Fall 2017 in Milan, Italy, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Saint Laurent Fall 2017 in Paris, France, February 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Isabel Marant Fall 2017 in Paris, France, March 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Rochas Fall 2017 in Paris, France, March 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Balmain Fall 2017 in Paris, France, March 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Christian Dior Fall 2017 in Paris, France, March 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Sonia Rykiel Fall 2017 in Paris, France, March 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Loewe Fall 2017 in Paris, France, March 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Elie Saab Fall 2017 in Paris, France, March 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Elie Saab Fall 2017 in Paris, France, March 2017.

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Lex Herl walks the runway at Chanel Fall 2017 in Paris, France, March 2017.

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Your look in three words: Romantic, with a little bohemian, and then also minimal.

Must-have backstage: Any type of bandaids, or anything to help make the shoes fit. That’s the biggest issue for me — always trying to make the shoes fit, because that basically determines how you’re going to walk, so inserts, bandaids, anything.

Post-show ritual: I usually say just refueling for whatever I’m going to next. Usually when there’s a small break between a show and the next thing I’m going to, I’m usually fueling up on food or liquids, whatever.

Between-show snack: Something with a lot of protein and fat, so I’ll have nuts and fruit or protein bars or stuff like that.

Your fitness routine: Before fashion week, I was working out every day. I don’t do a lot of strength — I do more toning and cardio. During fashion week, though, it was really busy and I was sore a lot of the time from the different shoes I was wearing. You don’t get as much sleep, so I was a little more exhausted, so I did things like stretching and yoga to kind of relax me.

10 Models Reveal the Beauty Products They Can’t Live Without During Fashion Week

Not only a moisturizer, the MAC Strobe Cream takes care of dull and dehydrated skin while giving skin a luminous glow.

MAC Strobe Cream,$33, maccosmetics.com

Photo by @alexbinaris

The YSL Touche Éclat Concealer conceals and brightens eyes all in one stroke, making it a beauty bag essential.

YSL Touche Éclat Concealer,$42, yslbeautyus.com

Photo by @lenaobao

Infused with Aloe and Cucumber extracts, the Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream’s formula helps lock in intense moisture.

Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream,$62, nordstrom.com

Photo by @maartejeverhoef

Smashbox’s versatile L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color’s creamy formula is perfect for blending to get the ultimate warm glow.

Smashbox L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color,$29, sephora.com

Photo by @amandagooge

A light weight formula packed with a wide bristled brush allows for bold, full lashes.

Diorshow Mascara, $29, sephora.com

Photo by @michelle_gtk

Vichy’s Dermafinish Corrective Fluid Foundation provides flawless and full coverage with the benefit of a light formula.

Vichy Dermafinish Corrective Fluid Foundation,$30, vichyusa.com

Photo by @ania_chiz

Carmen’s Classic Lip Balm infused with cocoa butter helps keep dry, chapped lips moisturized all year round.

Carmex Classic Lip Balm,$3, mycarmex.com

Photo by @kittikatt

MAC’s Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer has a light weight formula that provides full coverage, plus all the perks of SPF.

MAC Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer,$20, nordstrom.com

Photo by @juliehoomans

The grains of sugar in Dior’s Addict Lip Sugar Scrub exfoliate to leave lips with a healthy and glossy finish.

Dior Addict Lip Sugar Scrub,$33, sephora.com

Photo by @isabellaridolfi

Infused with sweet almond oil and beeswax, Embryolisse’s Rich Moisturing Cream keeps skin hydrated while smoothing out fine lines.

Embryolisse Rich Moisturing Cream,$40,embryolisseusa.com

Photo by @greta_varlese
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Medicine cabinet snapshot: I try to not wear a lot of makeup, especially because from the different shows, you’re getting so many different products on your face. When I’m outside the shows, I try to keep my face clean so it can replenish itself — your basic things like cleanser, toner, moisturizer. I just try to keep it simple. I try to use a lot of more natural ingredients. With my toner, I just make it myself with apple cider vinegar and water. I use coconut oil for moisturizer.

Nails must be: I like to keep it pretty basic with the nails, too. You have to keep it clean most of the time when you’re going to shows and castings anyways, so I always just try to keep the cuticles trimmed and the nails buffed and trimmed, too. I don’t wear a lot of nail polish.

A good hair day starts with… Shu Uemura hair oil. My hair is really thick so it gets frizzy easily. It kind of just smooths it out.

Sheet masks or mud masks: Mud masks.

Favorite scent: I like mostly floral things.

Best advice from the pros: All the makeup and stuff can really clog your pores and cause breakouts, which is the last thing you want during fashion week — so basically just keep your face clean. As soon as you’re done with a show, just remove it — the makeup — and wash your face to prevent breakouts.

Best advice from mom: I wasn’t getting much sleep throughout fashion week and everything was super busy, but she was saying it’s important to realize there are so many other girls out there that would love to be doing what you’re doing, so to just really enjoy everything that you’re doing and appreciate it.

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