“I grew up in Colorado going snowboarding and horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, climbing trees, being barefoot, swimming in the pond. I was never interested in fashion. I didn’t know who anyone was. Steven Meisel who? Mert and Marcus what? Marc Jacobs?
There was a dude ranch near my house growing up, which is basically a place where you go to ride horses. It’s kind of a western luxury experience—you stay for a week-long retreat, and ride the same horse all week long. There was a photoshoot going on there, and the photographer and assistant thought that my sisters and I were the models. When they found out we weren’t, the photographer came to my mom and dad and tried to convince them to move us to New York. I was 14, and I figured I might as well try—it wasn’t like I’d be presented with the opportunity ever again. My dad did his due diligence, set up a meeting with IMG in New York, and the rest was history. I lived back and forth between Denver and New York from then on, and I moved full-time when I was 17. By the time I did, I knew how to use the train, and I didn’t need to use a map to know where I was.
My first major fashion week season was when I realized this was actually a career. I had been doing shows for almost three years, but right before my 18th birthday I booked the Versace show. Then I booked Fendi, Chanel, Balman—all of the huge brands. I had never walked any of these shows before. Shortly after that, I turned 18 and tried out for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. I admire Gisele Bundchen a lot, and have tried to model my career after hers. When I started paying attention, I noticed she had walked the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show. I knew it was a big deal, so I wanted to try to do it. I still felt like a kid, and figured they would never book me—I think that’s why I wasn’t nervous. I just went in and was myself. Obviously I knew how to walk a runway—I had been on the runway since I was 15. I think that really helped, having that confidence on the runway. I booked it on the first go round. There’s so much more that I still want to accomplish. To say, ‘I made it,’ is to say, ‘I’m done.’ I hope I never make it—I never want to lose that feeling.
In real life, I’m a very casual person—I like jeans and t-shirts, sneakers or flats. I did a hometown shoot with American Vogue, and they shot me and my brother with a horse, with the mountains in the background. I was in my element—that really felt like me. The Ralph Lauren shoots I’ve done recently have felt very comfortable, too. Actually, the only brand I knew before moving to New York was Ralph Lauren. I’m from Colorado! Everyone knows Ralph Lauren there. The Ralph Lauren casting was the one my mom and I were most excited about. When you’re from the midwest, Ralph Lauren is fashion. When I first met him, he told me that I looked like Audrey Hepburn and I almost cried on the spot. I called my mom immediately.
I definitely dealt with teenage acne. Honestly, I was such a tomboy that I wanted nothing to do with skincare or makeup. I probably started being more aware of it when I was 18. About a year ago I saw a dermatologist—Dr. Daniel Belkin, who was recommended to me by Hung Vanngo. I usually switch between two different face washes that are dermatologist recommended for sensitive skin. One is called Cetaphil, and the other is CeraVe. You can buy them anywhere. I like to use the Génifique serum from Lancôme, and vitamin E oil. I need to check with Dr. Dan, but I read somewhere that vitamin E is really good for scars. I like to crack a little vitamin E and put it right on acne scars. I figure, if you can put it in your body, you can put it on your skin. My skin definitely goes through phases. That time of the month can throw me off, and being on airplanes all the time definitely adds to it. You know that feeling when your face is stretched out because it’s dry? I’ve been asked what mask I use on planes like four times—I don’t. I like to sleep on airplanes. When you’re traveling, the most important thing is to stay hydrated. Not a treatment, not a product, water. At the end of the day, if I break out, I’m OK with it. It’s a zit, it ain’t no big deal—everyone’s got ‘em.
When I’m working, I’ll come home, wash my face, and take a shower or a bath to decompress. I like to wash my hair with Pantene—I heard you’re not supposed to wash it every day, so I do every other day. I wear my hair in a bun all the time, so it doesn’t really matter. My mom is a beautician—I never stepped foot in a salon growing up, because my mom always cut my hair in our garage. For the bath, I like the lavender scented Epsom salts. I also have this little aromatherapy bath oil—you fill the cap and dump it into the bath. It smells so good. After that, I eat dinner and go to bed. I never felt pressure to go out—I always joke and say I’m a 95-year-old man trapped inside a 23-year-old girl’s body. I like dinners, I like hanging out with my parents—sometimes I feel like I get along better with my parents than people my age. And I like to sleep. I’ll sleep for hours. If I’m not working, I’m dead to the world.
I’m always getting my makeup done. A really cool tip that I’ve learned is to heat up your eyelash curler with a hairdryer. You tap it on your skin to check it’s not too hot, and then use it on your eyelashes while it’s still warm. It’s like a curling iron for your eyes. Another one is when you’re doing a deep side part, or a high and tight pony, use eyeshadow the color of your hair to fill in the hairline. When I do my own makeup, I like to keep it pretty simple. Monsieur Big from Lancôme is my favorite mascara. I also use Teint Idole concealer from Lancôme—they make one with a semi-orange tint called Camouflage that really helps counterbalance the purple in my dark circles. My mom has them, too—I think it’s genetic. My lip balm is just whichever one is in my drawer. And I’ve never touched my brows my entire life. I never will.
For fragrance, I lean towards florals, and rose specifically. Every time I like the smell of something, it’s rose. I feel like it’s an all year long thing. I really love Beyond Romance because it’s a little sweet, and almost smells like youth. I’m reminded of my first summer days in New York with my sister when I was 17. Everything smelled sweeter—I didn’t smell the trash on the street yet. Or it’s warm summer nights. You go out with friends, with a date, and you don’t even know how you got wherever you are but you’re having one of those random, amazing nights. The kind where you get home and think, ‘I don’t even know what we did last night, but it was awesome.’ That’s exactly what is in this bottle.”
—as told to ITG
Taylor Hill photographed by Alexandra Genova in New York on July 23, 2019.