I watched a video that appeared on my Facebook timeline this morning. It was Lucky Blue Smith, the 17-year-old model from Utah, leaving a Milan Fashion Week show. Used to seeing models post-show huddled together outside the venue – smoking, nonchalantly posing for the street style photographers, citymapping their route to the next show, catching up in their many languages – I realised that, other than the likes of Cara and Kendall, I had never seen a male model, certainly not a relatively new one, receive the type of fanfare ordinarily reserved for a Jonas.
His white-bleached hair seemed to be the main attraction for the crowd of screaming girls, calling his name, begging for selfies, some entering a state of Belieber-like shock. This carried on for most of the eight shows that he walked in over June’s menswear calendar in Europe.
So why the hysteria? Well that might be something to do with his 1.2 million Instagram followers – his hair, Pacific-blue eyes and honed physique providing quite the temptation to double-tap – and having the world’s coolest name certainly making most curious if they haven’t yet seen him. You think Lucky Blue must be a stage name, until you learn that his sisters – whom he is also in a band, The Atomics, with – are named Queen, Daisy and Pyper, and realise that his parents are just super fun. He courts the attention too. Rather than shying away like most models whose name escapes you, inviting them to meet him in whatever city he visits and interacting with the social following he has cleverly built, proving it is not just Victoria’s Secret Angels that can break a million.
This week, Smith’s autumn/winter 2015 campaign for Tom Ford menswear was released. “Still shocked, thank you Tom Ford / @nextmodels,” read the post that accompanied one of the campaign images on Smith’s Instagram (which has more followers than Ford’s) and stamped the seal on him being the biggest male model of the moment. But this status is not just down to a few Instagram posts and blue-eyed beauty.
“Lucky’s unbelievable engagement on social media, combined with his unreal looks, vibrant personality and warmth have combined to produce the biggest male model of the moment,” said Sarah Vickery, head of the men’s board at Next Models, clearly being modest as the brains and paperwork behind his meteoric rise. After only two seasons, Smith is already in a position where the most high-profile of designers are realising the power he holds – he walked exclusively for Balmain’s spring/summer 2016 show in Paris – and what it will bring to their brand. In a new wave of designer mindsets, championed again by Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, the next generation of these fashion houses’ customers are being formed. Those who did not know about Versace, Balmain, Givenchy and Tom Ford before, now know exactly who they are thanks to the likes of Smith and Kendall Jenner et al and aspire to be part of it – whether that is now, or once a graduation and real salary allows.
Like Cara Delevingne before him, modelling is providing the launch pad for Smith’s other goals. His sisters and their band are all signed to his agency and he wants to take that show on the road too. “My goal is to play sold-out shows around the world, to star in some movies, be in some cool films and also modelling,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “I kind of want to show that if you’re a male model, you don’t have to just be a model.”
I reckon that he’ll do just that, and it won’t be down to luck.
Mikael Jack – Fashion Features Editor
(images: Tom Ford / instagram.com/luckybsmith)