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.

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.

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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