Lucky Blue Smith is 6 feet 3 inches of beanpole legs, piercing facial features, 0 percent body fat, and the response to the previously unanswerable question: “Who is your favorite male model?”
He’s everywhere, once you realize who the skinny blond guy is: dancing in the Tom Ford campaign with Lady Gaga, bounding over frozen terrain for Moncler, readjusting his sweatshirt and staring down the camera for Calvin Klein. There’s also the regular blue steeling on Instagram, where he gives his 1.5 million fans what they want, mainly a reason to faint over him (he offers that in person too, at the meet-ups he holds just often enough to keep their attention). In the past year he’s spent on major runways, he’s attracted the kind of fanfare outside of shows you might expect for Kate Moss or Kendall Jenner but is wholly unprecedented in the world of male modeling. Much of it, he says, is attributable to the fact that he actively engages with fans on social platforms, sometimes through the occasional direct message, but usually by playing coy. (Recent photo captions include: “What’s Up Babe?” “Crushing on You,” and “Babe want to grab breakfast tomorrow?” — all while Lucky — his hair in various forms of dishevelment, stares icily into the camera).
“After I built up a following on Instagram, I realized it’s a good way to talk to your fans. I always try to keep the conversation going — they’re really happy when that happens,” says Lucky of his quick ascent in the modeling world, which is like old-school Elvis hysteria bolstered by new media accessibility. The 17-year-old is eating a piece of chicken smeared in hot sauce on a break from his Yahoo Style shoot in Los Angeles, where he moved two years ago with his family — a group that looks sort of like the von Trapp children gone Coachella. There’s Starlie Cheyenne (age 22), Daisy Clementine (age 20), and Pyper America (age 18), all of them models, all born with permanently pursed lips. They’ve been working in the industry since Daisy was scouted five years ago in their home state of Utah, and for the moment, they live in a two-bedroom apartment in Hollywood with their genetically blessed parents.
While they make inroads in the fashion world, the Smiths maintain their first love: music. Lucky, who drums, describes their band, the Atomics, as “groovy.” They’re also, unsurprisingly, finding their way among the young talent milling around Los Angeles. “Most of my friends are in the industry,” Lucky notes. “Photographers, models, stylists, and social media kids.” Just before this shoot, Lucky had had a rare weekend off, during which he’d gone to the beach and a birthday party for Jordyn Woods, one of Kylie Jenner’s famous Insta-friends.
Yahoo Style found out more about the young model, who is a favorite of Hedi Slimane.
Yahoo Style: When did you realize the power of Instagram?
Lucky Blue Smith: When I moved to L.A. a few years ago, my sister hung out with a couple of people with big followings. I’d hang out with them too, and eventually was tagged in a picture with Acacia Brinley, who does a lot on YouTube. She got me from, like, 6,000 to 17,000 followers over a couple of days. Then you’re just, like, sitting at 20,000 and 30,000 followers for a while, and when you hit 100,000 is when it really starts to grow on its own.
How long did that take, to go from 20,000 to 100,000 followers?
It was, like, a year.
Your ascent reminds me a little of Kendall Jenner or Gigi Hadid — models who have come up through social media.
It’s kind of interesting. I know Gigi and Bella — I keep running into them at events and shows and stuff like that — and I’ve worked with Kendall. I’m the first Kendall or Gigi for male models. I think now that [the industry has realized that] female models can be born on social media, they’re like, “OK, a guy can too.” So it’s like I’ve almost started a new category.
Everyone has social media. What makes yours different?
Honestly, it’s just your personality. If you have a cool personality, the photographer will want to work with you because he or she will have more fun on set.
Do you see people trying to leverage your social media presence to get their own followers?
I can tell right off the bat what your intentions are, but usually the people I hang out with aren’t like that. I don’t try to avoid it, but I can tell when it’s happening.
Does anything surprise you when you meet fans in person?
The first time was really weird and crazy. It was at an airport in London a year ago — the first time I’d ever been out of the country — and a bunch of people just showed up. That was shocking.
Have you seen crying?
Oh yeah, girls have passed out. One time at a meet-up in Paris, I went up to a girl to give her a hug and the next thing I knew she was on the floor. They cry; they’re so sweet. They’re the best; they’re the bomb diggity.
Did you have this effect at your old high school?
No I didn’t!
What do you remember about walking in your first show?
It was Dunhill in London. I was like, “This is really weird,” and then I kind of wanted to get it over with. I don’t know, your heart is beating a little faster backstage, and then when you go out, it all stops. Then you just walk. I remember we had to walk in a big “H” shape, and I was so stressed about mixing that up.
What’s the biggest difference about your life now from a few years ago?
Having that following. I first got the following in China after the men’s shows last year. After New York Fashion Week this February, I suddenly had all of these Chinese commenters; they called me “Little Fresh Meat” (a compliment). Weibo is the Facebook of China, so I immediately got on that so I could talk to the fans. I had 200,000 followers within four days.
You recently bleached your hair. Is it difficult to maintain?
You have to bleach the roots every six weeks, and you have to condition it and take care of it, or it can get really dry and break off.
Did you ever think you’d know a lot about conditioning hair?
Ha, not at all, not at all.
What do you like to wear?
A cool pair of blue or black jeans and a T-shirt. I really like rock ’n’ roll skinny jeans that Yves Saint Laurent has, and all the looks from the Tom Ford shows and shoots I’ve done with him. I’m still not familiar with a lot of designers, like I don’t really know what kind of clothes Gucci makes.
Are you still in high school?
I’m almost done — I’m a senior in high school and I have to take a test. I have two more classes, and then I’m done. I’ve always liked English and history and government because I like learning about what made this country.
I saw you posted pictures of your friends going to homecoming in Utah. Do you keep up with them?
Yeah, I’ve actually found out who my true friends are; I keep up with them.
And I saw on Instagram that last spring you went to prom.
My friend got me a date. Amber, my cousin’s good friend; she was cool, she had a good personality.
Do you ever miss that stuff?
I miss it, but then I’ll go back to one of my best friend’s high school football games, and I’m, like, this is amazing but I don’t want to live this life. I’m happy with what I’m doing. I’m not missing out on a whole lot, in my opinion.
If you post a picture of yourself with a girl at prom, does the Internet freak out?
Yes, they do.
Do you have a girlfriend?
I don’t have a girlfriend. I don’t want a girlfriend right now. I’m so busy, it’s like I don’t have time to go get some ice cream with you. It doesn’t mean I don’t hang out with girls and have that whole social life. Who knows, maybe in the future?
You have a movie coming up, Love Everlasting. Do you want to do more acting?
Yeah! That one is coming out next summer. I want to be playing sold-out tours and shows, music-wise, and then acting: being in some really cool films and making some cameo appearances and stuff like that. And then doing some cool modeling projects, still kind of doing the same stuff I am now, but amped up.
Is it weird to see yourself everywhere?
Yes, I was flipping through the first men’s issue of CR Fashion Book. Carine Roitfeld, the stylist, she’s amazing — I love working with her. I did a spread with her and then was on the cover of her book. And then, like, three of my campaigns were in it. Flipping through it, I was like, “Who am I? This is so weird.”