Natalie Westling is the skater girl from Arizona with Pippi Longstocking locks and a go with the flow frame of mind that's got Marc Jacobs, Hedi Slimane and the rest of the fashion world falling over their feet to be her friend. Don't fall in love too quick, you'll get burned up by a redhead chick!
"Snap!" is the first thing Natalie Westling says as I walk into the studio to interview her, holding up her cracked iPhone to match mine, equally as smashed. It's the night after the Jonathan Saunders show and Natalie's been at the studio since 8am getting her hair and make-up done for a quick i-D shoot before she walks in Giles tonight. She's slouched in a chair while a neon red mullet is pinned and hairsprayed to her head, impossibly long legs sprawled out awkwardly in skinny jeans and scuffed up vans. Painfully cool but super friendly, the gangly redhead chats away about last nights show, last nights dreams, and the colour of her eyebrows - "fucking hell, are my eyebrows going red from my hair again? The dye runs down my forehead and dyes my eyebrows, happens everytime," before I've even asked her a question. She's 17 and has only been modeling for six months, but she's found admirers in the industry's finest - her first job ever was opening Marc Jacobs' spring/summer 14 runway and the showman himself cast her in his infamous new campaign alongside Miley Cyrus (she's not dead, she's sunbathing...), Hedi Slimane cast her in his latest Cherry Glazerr soundtracked Saint Laurent ad and she's tight with total babe Binx. Natalie's the red-haired girl you ought to know, she'll throw your life into her world!
"I was the most anti-fashion person, and I still am. I mean, yeah I do my job but at the end of the day I'm still who I was before I started, I don't walk around with a designer bag or designer clothes, I don't care about any of that stuff."
What time is GILES today?
I think it starts at 5.
So you're going straight from the shoot to the show? Is it always like that?
It's been like that for the past week, but it's fine, I'm young so I can do it!
How long have you been modelling for?
6 months. It's such a short time but it's been a great ride so far.
Did you ever think it would get this big this quickly?
No, never ever but it's an honour. All the teams that I get to work with are amazing.
How old are you now?
17 but my parents raised me to be more mature than my age so it just works and I'm able to do it.
Are you still at school?
I'm not, no, I got my diploma early.
How did you get into modelling?
I was scouted at my mall by mother agency and then a representative from The Society Management in New York came to my mother agency and met with me and brought me to New York in the summer and for my last season.
Did you do any smaller jobs or was it straight into shows and big shoots?
I didn't do any smaller jobs, no.
What was the first show you did?
Marc Jacobs exclusive, opening it. And my first shoot was Vogue Russia.
That's amazing, were you nervous opening Marc Jacobs as your first gig?
A little bit, but the second you're told to go you just forget about everything and do it. I wasn't too nervous.
"Everyone thinks I'm the dead girl from the Marc Jacobs campaign."
What's it like working with Marc?
I love working with Marc, he's great - super down-to-earth and treats you like a human being, always happy to see his girls, he's just super-cool.
What was it like meeting Miley Cyrus?
Everyone thinks she thinks she's like a hottie and full of herself but in actuality she's one of the most down-to earth girls I've ever met - super nice, really friendly and will talk to anyone. Very cool.
Have you seen her documentary The Movement?
Yeah I have. Meeting her and then watching that... I feel like you can really depict her personality from watching the documentary in a way. It's cool.
What was it like working with Hedi Slimane?
Amazing, I love working with him. I think he's so creative and original. He does everything himself, he shoots, he puts everything together, being able to work with someone like that is inspiring, he's a great guy, super nice. I can't wait for Paris, 'cause we get to see him again.
Were you into fashion before you started modelling?
Never. I was the most anti-fashion person, and I still am. I mean, yeah I do my job but at the end of the day I'm still who I was before I started, I don't walk around with a designer bag or designer clothes, I don't care about any of that stuff. I like fashion now but at the end of the day I'm still the same as I was 6 months ago.
Do you still live in Arizona with your family?
I don't, I live in New York for most of the time but I'll go home after fashion week or during the holidays... but other than that I'm in New York in a model house in the financial district, lower downtown Manhattan.
Oh, I've never been to New York...
It's nice, I mean, only to visit. I don't really like living there. For work it's good to live there but yeah I'd move back to Arizona if I wasn't modelling for sure.
Is it hard living away from home?
No, actually. I've been such an independent kid throughout my entire life, it was nice to have the opportunity to leave the nest and explore the world alone and do these types of things, I enjoy it, I really like being away from home. Yeah I miss my family and my parents and stuff like that but having their support keeps me going.
What reactions did you get to the Marc Jacobs campaign?
Everyone thinks I'm the dead girls from the Marc Jacobs campaign... I mean it was cool, having the opportunity to work with David Sims and be in the Marc Jacobs campaign and working with Katie [Grand] and Miley was a huge honour, it was amazing. I had a lot of fun on set, I did get a lot of reactions of like "oh, Natalie's dead because of Miley," and all these different things but I still got pretty good press from it.
Why did they make you lie down?
Not sure... I guess I was like... sunbathing? I don't know! David was like "lay down and look like you're sunbathing," so I guess that's where they were taking it but no one else saw it that way!
It looks like it's night time though...
Yeah... I don't know!
That's it. Yeah, I don't think was out but it was fun. It's an honour to have my face next to Miley and be in the Marc Jacobs campaign.
I love it.
Yeah, me too! I think it's perfect.
When did you dye your hair red?
I dyed it this colour about three days ago. It was super, super bright red for the Marc Jacobs campaign and I had it dyed back super, super bright red for New York Fashion Week.
Do you like it this colour?
I like it now I've got used to it but I really miss the bright, in-your-face red hair that I had three days ago.
Why did you dye it in the first place?
Katie Grand asked me to. She wanted me to get the bright neon red hair for the Marc Jacobs campaign. Then I dyed it back for shows, for Europe shows. It was my first time ever experimenting with dye. Luckily she found me Guido's hair colourist so it was done really professional and didn't damage my hair or anything.
"If you're cool and down to earth I'll be friends with you, you know. The girls I don't like are too into themselves, I can't deal with them."
Who are your best model friends?
Pauline Hoarau, Antonina Petkovic, Kelly Mittendorf, Sasha Luss, Ashleigh Good, Hanne Gaby, everyone! I've become friends with all the cool people. If you're cool and down to earth I'll be friends with you, you know. The girls I don't like are too into themselves, I can't deal with them.
Have you met loads of people like that since you started modeling?
Yeah there are so many, I just can't deal with them. There's loads of cool people too.
Oh yeah, Binx! I completely forgot, me and Binx are tight.
You're both skateboarders...
No, she doesn't skate, she longboards.
How often do you skate?
Not much anymore because I break things. I've been skating since I was three.
Do you ever do competitions?
I did as a kid but now I can't skate because I've got pins in my knees, I've broken my arm six times, I've broken my ankle, my knees, I just can't do it anymore because I break things, I was told not to! It sucks but all my free time goes to this industry so it's not a big deal anymore.
Do you get much free time?
No, not that much. I mean, I won't get like a week off. Maybe like a day and hardly ever weekends but after shows I'm going back to Arizona for like a month unless I confirm a job that's super important but then they'll fly me wherever.
What are you going to do while you're back there?
Just hang with friends and family, take advantage of it while I'm there.
You had a BMX on this shoot, can you BMX?
I can't, I never got into it. I just ride bikes because doing tricks on it? Pfff, if it fell on you, you can forget about it. With a skateboard it's like nothing.
Apart from the pins in your knee and the broken ankles...
Yeah, but I mean if you landed wrong on a bike and it fell on you it would be much bigger. If a skateboard falls on your chest or something it's like whatever, but with a bike it's like you know... they're so big and awkward. I couldn't see myself biking for sure.
What would you be doing if you weren't a model?
I wanted to become a forensic biologist but right now I'm just riding the train for as long as I can before I have to think about school and stuff.
Would you ever go back to school?
I don't know, we'll see how it goes. It's been amazing so far.
What TV programs do you watch?
I don't watch TV. I used to. I used to watch Criminal Minds and Dexter and that kind of stuff but I probably haven't watched TV in like three months. The TV in the model apartment doesn't always work or there's never anything to watch or you don't have any free time or when you have free time you want to go to sleep or there's girls to talk to in the apartment and that's more fun. Even when I go back home I can't watch TV, I get bored of it so quickly. I need that human interaction I guess.
What music are you into?
I'm into post-punk, hardcore type music like The Story So Far, Basement, Citizen, Tigers Jaw - American bands.
What's your favourite city that you've been to so far?
I think here, London. Milan's great but super boring, and Paris is beautiful but I feel like - no offense - but the French people kind of ruin it in a way. They're just so brutal, I've had pretty bad experiences.
What happened in Paris?
Just like cab drivers dropping you off the opposite end to where you're supposed to be or even just trying to go into a restaurant and order something, they just tell me to leave because I'm American, just that kind of stuff.
What do you think of the make up for this shoot?
I really like it. It fits me. I love doing hardcore punk stuff like this, it's fun, just like POW you know, smacks you in the face!
Do you ever do your own make up?
Never, no. Don't even put on foundation.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully still doing this and working a lot. I really want to work with Steven Meisel again, Tim Walker again, definitely want to get a Vogue cover at some point! It would be amazing to keep working in this industry but the most important thing to me is to not get a hot head about it and stay humble because I think that gets you much further than a girl who thinks so much of herself. I don't want to be that. I try to be as down-to-earth as possible because in this industry I can't stand those cocky people, know what I mean?
See the full shoot here.