Taylor Hill and Joan Smalls on Their Meaningful New Jewelry Campaign and Fashion Philosophies

·7 min read
Taylor Hill and Joan Smalls on Their Meaningful New Jewelry Campaign and Fashion Philosophies

Today, luxury jewelry brand David Yurman is releasing a new version of its iconic Renaissance Bracelet with a stunning campaign featuring models Taylor Hill and Joan Smalls.

Originally launched in 1983, the classic cable design has been reimagined in an array of different colors created with 100% recycled aluminum. Like previous iterations of this signature style, sales from two of the Aluminum Renaissance Bracelets, all of which retail for $395, will give back in a major way. One hundred percent of the net profits of from the purchase of the Sand (modeled by Hill) and Indigo (modeled by Smalls) hues will benefit the David Yurman x Robin Hood Unity Fund — which assists poverty-stricken New Yorkers — for a year.

Not only is the philanthropic element near and dear to native New Yorker David Yurman, it holds special meaning to Hill and Smalls. We caught up with the models to hear about their experience shooting the campaign, their takes on fashion these days and more, below.

David Yurman x Robin Hood Unity Fund
David Yurman x Robin Hood Unity Fund

Lachlan Bailey

PEOPLE: Why is this campaign meaningful to each of you?

Taylor Hill: "This campaign means a lot to me because I've spent almost 10 years of my career based out of New York. I'm not from New York, but I've lived there for such a long time that I really found such a special connection with the city, and it is a place that I've learned to call home. This is a really beautiful homage to New York, especially with the hardships that we saw the city go through the last year. The campaign really highlights how beautiful and resilient the city is."

Joan Smalls: "For me, I would say the campaign is meaningful because of what it represents in the industry. Starting out in fashion, you would always see David Yurman images throughout New York and you want to be part of that. It's so iconic."

David Yurman x Robin Hood Unity Fund
David Yurman x Robin Hood Unity Fund

Lachlan Bailey

PEOPLE: You shot this campaign in December 2020. How was that process different amid the pandemic?

Taylor Hill: "I hadn't been in New York since February 2020, so it was kind of surreal to be back. I had a couple of big waves of emotions. There were way less people than there normally would have been [due to COVID-19 safety protocols], but it was really awesome to be on set."

Joan Smalls: "There were so many safety precautions, which was great. But it was also trippy not to see people's faces, because on a shoot, you're used to seeing people's [reactions] so now it's harder."

PEOPLE: It's not lost on us that you're in tank tops in winter!

Taylor Hill: "There are a thousand blankets, coats on standby, heating lamps and hot water bottles. And we really lucked out with the weather because it was cold, but it was sunny. Also, after years and years, you just get used to it. You shoot the summer in the winter and the winter in the summer, and that's just how it is."

Joan Smalls: "That's the thing about the fashion industry — they really know how to do smoke and mirrors. You're in cold, in a pandemic, but they're still going to figure out a way. Where there's a will there's a way!"

David Yurman x Robin Hood Unity Fund
David Yurman x Robin Hood Unity Fund

Lachlan Bailey

PEOPLE: Which of the bracelets in the Aluminum Renaissance collection is your favorite, and why?

Taylor Hill: "I chose the Sand-colored bracelet because I love neutrals and was drawn to its rustic look. As soon as I saw that one, I was like, 'That's me.'"

Joan Smalls: "I chose the Indigo-colored bracelet — it's a color that represents strength, integrity, and honesty; words that align with my everyday living."

PEOPLE: Some proceeds from the sale of both your go-to bracelets provide resources for New Yorkers in need. How do you two give back in your personal lives, and what would you say to others to get them in?

Taylor Hill: "I work with two great organizations that I love: Freedom and Fashion [which uses beauty and fashion to help empower at-risk youth] and Alexandria House [which helps provide emergency housing for Los Angeles residents]. With [the latter] I give whatever I can. I just look around my house for anything and everything — clothes, cookware, toilet paper — that I feel like someone would need.

And then, I think just to encourage others, I would say find what you're passionate about, what you love, what upsets you, what would you like to see change in the world and then start small — it just really does snowball from there."

Joan Smalls: "My mother is a retired social worker, so I came from a household of always knowing what it is to be selfless and to give of yourself to others. When she would do after school, I would tutor students younger than me. Then once I got rooted in New York, I joined an initiative called Project Sunshine, and go to hospitals and rehabilitation centers to play with kids.

And then during the Black Lives Matter movement during quarantine, I created a platform called Donate My Wage. Basically, it was out of frustration about what was happening in the world. I felt so helpless and I wanted to give back so I decided to highlight 13 organizations, and I pledged to donate 50% of my wages for the remainder of that year. So I divided it equally amongst those organizations. I did it because I was trying to prove a point that we can all complain about a system that's broken, but it's about leading by example. So those are some of the ways that I give back.

And how I encourage my friends is I tell them about it and tell them to come. If they have time they usually do. And then they're so happy that they actually did something for three, four hours of their day. And they were able to put a smile on someone's face."

David Yurman x Robin Hood Unity Fund
David Yurman x Robin Hood Unity Fund

Lachlan Bailey

PEOPLE: Share your style philosophy nowadays?

Taylor Hill: "I just want to be comfortable. I live in Levi's, I have a denim obsession, it's not healthy. But I think now that things are maybe opening back up again, I feel like my style has gotten a little more layered. Before I was so busy and stressed out that I didn't really care so much what I wore. But now I miss wearing clothes so much that I've found myself putting together outfits and thinking about what I'm going to wear a little bit more and wearing things in my closet that I haven't worn in a long time, because I'd lost my appreciation for them. Although, I will say, I don't wear heels, and I will not pick back up wearing heels because my feet would just be destroyed. So I'm a little nervous for my first event where I have to stand all night in heels. I don't think I'm going to be able to take it."

Joan Smalls: "I always gravitate to things that are classic and can stand the test of time. But I think when it comes to fashion and makeup, you should always be self-expressive of who you are and how you want the world to see you. I think you have to come into a place in your life where you feel confident in yourself because, at the end of the day, everybody's going to have an opinion about everything and anything. But do you. Whatever feels right within your soul and your energy, just express it, and whatever people want to say they're going to say. It shouldn't apply to you."

PEOPLE: What are you looking forward to the remainder of 2021?

Taylor Hill: "I'm looking forward to traveling a bit. I have friends all over the world and I haven't been able to see them. It's exciting to be able to reconnect with them, and with family."

Joan Smalls: "One thing that I miss the most is when Fashion Week came and my friends and I would all be in the same city and we would catch up. And I feel like that was so important to build bonds and continue to create memories. I'm also excited about continuing a conversation around inclusivity within the fashion industry and how can I help them navigate the space [regarding] being authentic and conscious of the decisions they make. I want to be able to help and gear that conversation."