Lauren Hutton Does It Her Way
(NEW YORK) Since gap-toothed stunner Lauren Hutton arrived on the scene, the modeling world has never been the same. The legend, more gorgeous than ever at 70, tells us how she changed the industry forever.
BY EDDIE ROCHE
How did you go from Mary to Lauren?
Mary Laurence Hutton is my real name. My father’s name was Laurence. At 18, I dropped the Mary and took on his name, shortened. I never liked Mary anyway. There was only one Lauren then and that was Bacall. Now we’ve got billions of them. Someone told me once that American Airlines had over a thousand “Lauren Huttons” registered in their flight mileage program.
Before you started modeling you were a waitress at the Playboy Club!
It was wonderful. I was a lunch bunny and made $600 a week. That was a lot of money back then. I was too young to work at night so I’d work until about six and then the night bunnies would come in. They were scary. It made me realize the enormous difference between a girl who is 18 and one who is 22. We’d always hide when they came in.
What was the allure of modeling?
I very consciously went in it for the money. I got a job as house model for Christian Dior making $50 a week. Then I found out that the younger girls in the magazines were making $50 an hour. I realized [if I did that] I could realize my dream of going around the world. But [on castings] most people would ask where I was from and tell me that I should go back there. I had a gap between my teeth, my face was crooked, and I was barely 5’ 7”. I’d hang on a bar in my one-room apartment trying to stretch myself.
What did people say about the gap?
My agent Eileen Ford told me I had to fix it and that I had to get a nose job. I discovered mortician’s wax, which I would put between my teeth after I whitened it up with shoe polish. That worked.
When did your career really take off?
Jean Shrimpton and Veruschka had stopped working and Twiggy was starting to make movies. I was it. I was the last man standing at the time, but I knew I was going to be in trouble at 30. I read an article in The New York Times about Catfish Hunter who was the first baseball player who refused to play without a contract. He was quoted saying that he was in a youth oriented business and he had to have a contract because this isn’t going to last much longer. That hit me right between the eyes! I thought, ‘That’s me!’ I asked my old man, who was very smart, what I had to do to get a contract. He didn’t even look up from his Wall Street Journal and said, ‘Makeup companies!’ At the time, I was making around $80,000 a year.
And then Revlon came along…
They paid me $250,000 for the first year and it went up every year after that. I put it in the contract that they couldn’t speak publicly about the money. I was trying to avoid notoriety around that. Of course the first thing they did was leak that out because Charles Revlon was a very smart guy. I was on the cover of Newsweek. They had to get me a public relations person.
Models today should bow down to you!
They should and so should the agents.
Did you do runway modeling?
There was a separate agency for runway. Big editorial girls wouldn’t touch any of this crap. They wouldn’t get near it. It was too déclassé for them. But my friend Halston was honored at The CFDA Awards, and asked if I would walk for him. That caused a big stir and the next year Calvin Klein asked me to do his show.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Gee…coming back at 47 and showing that women over 30 and 40 could be sexy and were hitting their prime if they were taking care of themselves. My whole generation of women were invisible at that point.
How do you want to be remembered?
I feel like I haven’t done anything useful yet. When I figure out what that is, maybe I’ll do it. I was useful in expanding the age of women as sexual and viable grownups.
Do you still have dreams?
I did everything on that thing they call “the bucket list” by the time I was 30. I haven’t jumped out of a plane yet. I’ll do that if I get the chance. When I travel, I seek out whoever is best at whatever it is they do, like famous divers in the dive world or famous dog sledders in the dog world. They aren’t known in the outside world. Usually they’re pretty interesting. Stars are stars for a reason.
What do you do with your old covers?
I have a copy of most of them. There was book that we made out of it called Big with all the old pictures. I also posed nude for it because I had never done that before. I was almost 60 and I have a lot of goddaughters who are very smart like Stella Schnabel and Nina Clemente and they all said I should do it.
Would you pose nude again?
I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it. I’d like to wrestle an alligator again. At 47 I was working with Helmut Newton and I knew he’d make me look ugly if I didn’t come up with a great idea, which became the shot. I had to hold the alligator’s mouth shut and roll him over. For days after my hands were like sausages. I couldn’t pick up a pencil!
How does it feel to be 70?
It feels fully-grown, that’s for sure. It’s odd. I still work out a lot and travel a lot so I’m physically pretty strong. That said, I had a giant motorcycle accident 13 years ago and I’ve had nine operations since. I landed from 25 feet in the air going 110 miles per hour. If Dennis Hopper, Jeremy Irons, and the rest of my gang hadn’t been with me, it would have been all over. They got the rocks out of my nose and mouth.
What’s next for you?
My latest idea is to make bras for women of my generation. They’re all so horrible and uncomfortable.