On November 17, 1943, Lauren Hutton was born. Although she was initially dismissed for what became her signature gap tooth, Hutton is one of the most successful American models of all time. Famous for signing the first-ever modeling contract, Hutton became a champion for demanding better pay for women. Turning 74 today,Hutton is the living embodiment of the popular adage that “age is just a number.”
Born Mary Laurence Hutton in Charleston, SC, she grew up with her mother and stepfather in Tampa, FL. Hutton was one of the first students to attend the University of Southern Florida, but she ended up graduating from Tulane University in 1964. Hutton took some time off from college and in 1963 had a three-month stint as a “Lunchtime Bunny” at the Playboy Club in New York City. She found the experience degrading and was determined to never put herself in that derogatory position again.
When Hutton moved back to NYC after college, she had her heart set on boarding a ship to Africa. However, her wanderlust dreams were cut short when the plan never came to fruition. With $200 to her name, Hutton saw an advertisement in The New York Times’ wants ads for a $50 a week modeling gig for Christian Dior. She was encouraged by a friend to apply for it and she landed the job.
At first, Hutton was encouraged by agents to hide the gap in her teeth. However she ultimately embraced this “imperfection” and became world famous for it. By making this decision, she inspired countless others to defy the elusive beauty standards for women. In the late 1960s, Hutton was often photographed by the legendary Richard Avedon and, in 1968, she landed a Chanel advertisement campaign.
In 1973, Hutton made fashion world history when she negotiated the first-ever modeling contract. Previous to this deal, models only got paid by the hour. Hutton signed the $400,000 contract with Revlon for about 20 days of work. In a recent interview, she recalled the significance of this deal: “Well, it changed everything almost overnight. Within weeks, no girl was working by the hour.” After that campaign, Hutton became a fashion phenomenon, appearing on the cover of “Vogue” 26 times to date.
Apart from her successful modeling career, Hutton starred in some hit films throughout the 1960s and 1970s, including “Paper Lion” (1968), “The Gambler” (1974) and “American Gigolo” (1980) with Richard Gere. However, reflecting on her Hollywood experience, she recently shared the “women were pretty much only props for men in the Sixties and Seventies.”
In her seventies, Hutton is still going strong in her modeling career. She has recently appeared in advertising campaigns for J.Crew, H&M, Lord & Taylor, and Alexander Wang. She walked the runway for New York Fashion Week in 2012 for Tom Ford and then alongside Gigi Hadid for Bottega Veneta in 2016. Last spring, she appeared in a sultry Calvin Klein ad directed by Sofia Coppola with Kirsten Dunst and Rashida Jones.
Hutton shared some valuable fashion – and life – advice in a recent interview: “People like to say you’re either born with style or you’re not, and that’s complete hooey. You’ve gotta develop your own and find your own. We’re all completely different — different bones. Go for what suits you.”
Happy Birthday! Thank you for inspiring us to not let age – or anything else – define us!