In December, over drinks at Bar Hemingway in Paris, IMG Models’ head honcho Ivan Bart and I were talking about “ones to watch” in the coming months. “Have you heard of Kate Upton?” he asked me, waiting a beat before saying, “You will—she is a star.”
Fifteen-plus years at the helm of one of the world’s most prominent agencies means Bart’s predictions rarely miss. True to his word, Upton, an all-American dead-ringer for Marilyn Monroe with a playful, “girls-just-want-to-have-fun” attitude (Bart references Jayne Mansfield, another Monroe-era actress), has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue as of late: the bombshell’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover made headlines across the country, while her Muse magazine portfolio and appearance in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s catalogue for the upcoming Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations exhibit showed her “high-fashion” crossover appeal.
Last week, Upton and I met up to shoot an upbeat, cheeky Easter film for LOVE magazine’s website (Katie Grand, LOVE’s Editor-in-Chief, is an Upton fan—she collaborated with her for the aforementioned MET catalogue). She arrived to Milk Studios in a pair of killer Louboutin pumps (so much for my shoe selection—Upton’s were perfect) and settled into Jeanine Lobell’s chair for makeup. Lobell focused on creating a “60’s inspired, fresh, girly, doll-like look, but with a sexier eye,” by extending a flick of Stila’s Stay All Day liquid liner past the inner corner of the lower lash line, adding a “little tail” to the outer upper lash line, and finally “putting a ton of single eyelashes on the top—and then I actually painted them with that Hourglass lacquer. I go under the lashes at the root with a tiny fan brush dipped in the product, and push it upwards into the falsies to kind of glue them together.” Lobell chose Yves Saint Laurent’s new Rouge Pur Couture Vernis a Levres in #12 (“sort of a peachy pink”) for the lips to finish off the look.
Meanwhile, Peter Gray opted for full, tousled curls, and towel-dried Upton’s hair before spritzing on a generous helping of Oribe’s Thickening Spray. “The mistake that most people make is, they apply product to soaking wet hair, and that dilutes the product,” he warns. After “blasting it dry”, Gray misted small sections of hair with Oribe’s Superfine Hairspray before curling them, explaining that “heat and moisture cause the curl to drop. By putting on a bit of hairspray first, it’s sort of like putting varnish on a table—it just stops the moisture from getting in.”
In between showering the set with ribbon and various other Easter bits and bobs—and dressing Ziggy the rabbit in an Agent Provocateur garter belt—I painted Upton’s nails in two coats of Dolce & Gabbana’s Lilac polish. Upton enjoyed the beauty look so much that she went straight from the shoot to a charity event, popping the YSL gloss into her bag and completing her ensemble with a pale pink eyelet and tulle Louis Vuitton dress. After she waved goodbye, thanked the crew, and hopped into an awaiting car with manager Lisa Benson, a passerby excitedly whispered to me, “Was that just Kate Upton?!” It’s safe to say that spring—and a star—has officially sprung.
Stills from the film "Kate Upton in Peter Cottontail" currently playing on thelovemagazine.co.uk.