As the male model lands a Tom Ford campaign, we chart the social media maestro’s ascent from internet curiosity to fashion’s lofty heights
In today’s world, it’s normal for models to be cast according to their social media following as much as for their long limbs and beautiful faces. Just look at this generation’s catwalk queens – from Kendall Jenner (who has 30.5 million followers) to Cara Delevingne (who has 14.8 million). Models.com now has a ranking of the models with the widest social media reach, showing just how important it is in today’s market. US Vogue paid tribute to the phenomenon by captioning its September 2014 cover featuring Delevingne, Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls “The Instagirls”.
But what about the Instaboys? As yet, no male models have broken into the ranks of fashion's social media stars. Well, all except Lucky Blue Smith. This blue-eyed, platinum-haired model has 1.2 million Instagram followers to his name and, as of yesterday, is the new face of Tom Ford. As he’s proving, a social media fanbase is just as important as sharp cheekbones and washboard abs for the modern-day Derek Zoolander. We chart Lucky Blue’s rise to Insta-fame and model stardom:
AGED 12: HE’S SHOT BY HEDI SLIMANE
Smith’s modelling career started at the tender age of ten when he was scouted by Next Models LA. At 12 (still pre-peroxide), the Utah-born model was shot by Hedi Slimane for Vogue Hommes Japan. Most models start their careers doing shitty test shoots but nope, not Lucky, he got shot by Hedi. “I don’t think I really understood the impact it would have,” he recalled to Style.com. “Looking back, knowing how respected he is in the fashion community and how influential a designer he is, I feel I was really fortunate to have had that experience.”
JUNE 2014: HE GETS A CALVIN KLEIN CAMPAIGN
Smith features in a CK fragrance ad where he is shot by Mario Sorrenti alongside R&B star Kelela, Kanye West producer Evian Christ and Blood Orange musician Dev Hynes. Check out the video – true to Calvin Klein form, it's full of scantily-clad bodies. Still relatively unknown, the model's Instagram following and teenage fanbase start to snowball.
JANUARY 2015: HE STARTS TO GARNER MEDIA ATTENTION
With 285,000 followers, Smith is now a verified social media phenomenon. He gains the attention of The Business of Fashion who follow him around Paris – his first show season in Europe. The online journal discusses the model's social media cult – a vast contingent of which follows him through the streets of Paris as he’s going to his castings. At this point in time, his average post is liked by 30,000 to 40,000 people – a rate that far surpasses the majority of fashion brands.
JANUARY 2015: HE NAILS HIS FIRST SHOW SEASON
Taking the European catwalks by storm, Smith walks for Bottega Veneta, Dunhill, Etro, Fendi, Jeremy Scott and Tom Ford. Not bad for a first season, right? The model also gets a social media shoutout from Style.com’s editor-at-large and king fashion insider Tim Blanks, cementing his one-to-watch status (and confirming that yes, Lucky Blue is his real name). A few months later, the site publishes an interview with him, primarily focussing on his music career. Yep, he’s a musician. A drummer no less, for a band called The Atomics which he’s in with sisters Starlie Cheyenne, Daisy Clementine and Pyper America.
APRIL 2015: HE MEETS ELLEN DEGENERES
Next up, Smith makes a guest appearance on The Ellen Show where he discusses his fans, fashion week and his signature poses – the “Are you looking at me?” and the “Why are you looking at me?” The show averages viewers of 3.9 million people, so Smith's appearance on it breaks him out of the fashion world and into the mainstream – bumping up those all-important Instagram followers.
JUNE 2015: HE POSES WITH HIS HAIR TWIN, DONATELLA VERSACE
Back for his next runway season, Smith hits the Versace catwalk in Milan (in a pinstripe suit, shalwar kameez-like shirt and purple do-rag) and gets photographed with the grande dame of Italian glamour herself backstage. A peroxide power pair if ever there was one.
JULY 2015: HE LANDS A TOM FORD CAMPAIGN
Though he’s already walked in the former Gucci designer's shows, now he’s bagged a campaign. Looking suave in suede, Smith is shot by Mario Sorrenti alongside Ondria Hardin. More than anything, it’s a moment that proves that Smith has turned his Instagram likes into real fashion credibility.