Ph. by Richard Avedon, 1973
Lauren Hutton was advised to correct the slight gap in her teeth and tried using morticians’ wax to cover the gap, cutting a line in the middle of it; this was followed by the use of a cap, which she would often swallow, laugh out or misplace. She eventually retained this “imperfection”…..
Hutton, who is now 71, was the Kate Moss of her time – almost as famous for her partying as for her incredible and enduring fashion career – and the outspoken beauty explained that there were millions of dollars to be made from modelling, even in the Seventies.
She was illiterate until age 11. After her mother remarried (Hutton never knew her father), the family of three moved from Charleston to the swamplands of Tampa, which she calls “a magical place.” Hutton spent her days as a carefree tomboy, and learned how to interact with wildlife from her stepfather.
She first came to NYC for a few-month stint, earning her rent as a “Lunchtime Bunny” at the Playboy Club. (She explained that the position of “Lunchtime Bunny” was reserved for 18-20 year-olds). She was there around the same time that Gloria Steinem and Debbie Harry were also working at the Club, although they never interacted, since the ladies who would later be known as the godmother of feminism and Blondie, respectively, had the distinction of being Nighttime Bunnies.
Lauren Hutton as a Lunchtime [Playboy] Bunny
She was born as Mary Laurence Hutton, but blame it on Playboy for the switcheroo: There were apparently too many cocktail waitresses named Mary, so she decided to riff on her middle name and go with Lauren, inspired by none other than Lauren Bacall.
Hutton got into moddeling after she saw a want ad in the New York Times for a Christian Dior model, “experience required.” Her friend’s boyfriend told her she needed to go to the audition anyway. “I said, ‘I don’t have experience,‘ and he said, ‘Of course you do.’ I had my first great New York lesson: Lie.” She did get the job—though the fact that she offered to do it for less than minimum wage ($50 a week) was probably also a factor.
Hutton about her first meeting with Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. “‘You have quite a presence,’ Vreeland told me. I did not know what presence meant. I figured it was good. I said, ‘Yes ma’am, so do you.’ She said, ‘You stay after.’ I opened my book and she said, ‘I think I’ll call Dick [Avedon.]'”
It was her first big shoot with famed photographer Richard Avedon, and things were not going well. “I was trying to be Veruschka, and that was terrible,” she says. When, in the hopes of finding something that would inspire her, Avedon asked her questions about her childhood, she revealed that she used to love jumping over snakes. He told her to leap and jump in the photo, and the rest was history. “That started the run-and-jump pictures…because I couldn’t model.”
Run-and-Jump Pictures by Richard Avedon
She was the very first model to nab a beauty contract—and it was all her idea. Up until then, modeling was an occupation that was paid by the hour. But Hutton knew that she was a hot commodity. “Twiggy had quit, Veruschka was doing something else, Shrimpton was off doing something else—everyone had quit. I was the only one left!” But when she caught a glimpse of a New York Times article about a man who had received a $1 million contract for his own job, she said, “How can I do that?” She mentioned her idea to Avedon, who told her to up the ante and make it exclusive. She pitched it to Revlon, and in 1973, at age 31, she signed the first-ever modeling contract with Revlon for a sum of $400,000. She was the face of the mega-brand until they let her go about 10 years later.
Lauren Hutton appeared on the front cover of Vogue magazine a record 41 times!
Lauren Hutton & Christy Turlington
Veruschka, Isabella Rossellini Lauren Hutton, Steven Meisel 1988
In October 2000, Hutton joined a motorbike group, which included actors Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne and Jeremy Irons, to celebrate “The Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit at the Hermitage-Guggenheim museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. Prior to the journey, Hutton informed the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “I love the feeling of being a naked egg atop that throbbing steel. You feel vulnerable — but so alive.” En route, Hutton crashed near Hoover Dam, on the border between the US states of Arizona and Nevada, going over 100 miles (160 km) per hour, and suffered multiple leg fractures, a fractured arm, broken ribs and sternum, and a punctured lung. Hopper later recalled from before the start of the ride: “She had on a little helmet, sort of tied under her chin. It was cute. And Jeremy [Irons] came up to her and said, ‘You got to be kidding.’ He took it off her and gave her a proper helmet.”
About American Gigolo:
“Everyone knew it was great, that it was ahead of its time. Paul [Schrader] had been trying to get it made for ten years. He’s a genius idea man, and a genius producer. He was one of the first people to use popular music the way he did in that film, with Blondie. Originally, John Travolta had the lead role. He was fresh off of Saturday Night Feverand Grease, which together had made a quarter of a billion dollars. There were entire rooms in Paramount stuffed with his fan mail. What happened was, two weeks before we were to start, John’s mother died. He was just a 24 year-old kid. He was in real agony. Then his dad had a heart attack. So John asked for a two week extension so he could pull himself together emotionally, and also lose some of the weight he’d put on during this time. And they wouldn’t give him an extension. Everyone was going to sue him. It was just a mess. So what John had to do to get out of it, was give Paramount a deal where they chose his movies, and he had no say. And prior to that, John had what no other actor in town had, which was final cut. Plus, John was very romantic. If John had played the role, it would have been much more romantic and you would have seen the gigolo kiss. With Richard [Gere], you never really see the gigolo kissing. You see everything leading up to it. You see his expertise in dressing, more than his expertise at romance.”
“The character of Julian Kaye was a bit removed and completely narcissistic. It was his narcissism that blinded him to the conspiracy around him, but you would have had a populist hit if there had been more romance in the film. As it was, it wasn’t a hit when it came out, but became a classic in retrospect on cable and home video. So we ended up being lucky, because Richard is such a wonderful actor, and he became a star because of that role, deservedly.”
“We have to be able to grow up. Our wrinkles are our medals of the passage of life. They are what we have been through and who we want to be. I don’t think I will ever cut my face, because once I cut it, I’ll never know where I’ve been.”