She was brought up in a Mormon community in Utah; now she’s one of the hottest new faces in fashion. Here’s why Marie Claire's September issue cover star Pyper America Smith − and her brother, Lucky Blue − are giving the Hadids a run for their money
If such a thing as an LA ‘It Girl’ checklist ever existed, Pyper America Smith would tick pretty much all the boxes. Supermodel (check), aspiring actress (check), bass guitarist (check), Venice Beach blonde hair, 700k-strong Instagram following and second-generation Hollywood boyfriend – Pamela Anderson’s son Brandon Thomas Lee – check, check, check.
Like her contemporaries the Hadids and the Jenners, Smith also has siblings in the fashion industry, including her 19-year-old younger brother and Balmain muse Lucky Blue Smith, who shares her otherworldly bone structure and ice-blue eyes. ‘My family refer to me as the little alien,’ she jokes.
Growing up in Utah
But peel away the outer layer and Pyper America Smith’s story is closer to The Waltons than the Kardashians. She and her three siblings (Lucky Blue, and sisters Daisy Clementine and Starlie) grew up not in LA but a close-knit Mormon community in Spanish Fork, Utah, and might still be there had her uncle’s model-scout sister not suggested the Smith kids hit a local scouting event when Pyper America was 11. After her older sister Daisy Clementine won a contract with Next Model Management, the family of six packed up and moved to a tiny two-bedroom flat in LA. ‘I look back and think, why did my parents do this? It was so risky,’ she says. ‘My whole family were like crammed into this two-bedroom apartment in Hollywood. It was crazy.’
But the gamble made by her parents, Sheridan and Dallon, paid off. All four children have since carved out careers in fashion but, in the last year, 20-year-old Pyper America Smith’s modelling career has snowballed, with catwalk bookings for Moschino, Giorgio Armani and Philipp Plein, as well as campaigns for Calvin Klein and Moncler – which saw her and Lucky Blue pose together on an Icelandic moonscape for photographer Annie Leibovitz. Oh, and she has just designed an Americana-inspired range of trainers for Superga, out this month.
Gigging at Coachella
That’s not to mention the Osmond-style music career. When the Smith children were younger, their father encouraged them to form a band called The Atomics – Pyper America was given the bass guitar – with a debut performance of Wild Thing on the church steps at a Thanksgiving party. This year, they stepped things up a gear with a spot at Coachella. More music is on the way and, judging from their output so far, the band’s brand of ‘surf-rock’ has a promisingly hooky, White Stripes sound to it.
Smith has her own place in LA now, but is so close to her siblings that they clean their houses on FaceTime together. ‘You know how twins have that sense when they know their twin is in trouble?’ she says. ‘I feel that with all my siblings. I know how they’re breathing; how they’re thinking.’ Though, it must be said, Lucky Blue’s status as one of the world’s hottest male models was a bit of a curveball. ‘In the beginning, when he got into modelling, we were like, “What is going on? You’re this nerdy, funny-looking kid!”’
As the self-proclaimed ‘comedian of the family’ Smith runs her own Instagram splinter channel @pyper.tv, uploading videos of comedy characters she’s created during long shoot days, including a ‘Beverly Hills Mom’ and an Australian explorer based on Crocodile Dundee. She’s taking acting classes and has started going to auditions. ‘I love improv and comedy,’ she says. ‘I’m just trying to throw myself into it.’
Keeping the faith
But whether she’s shooting for Calvin Klein or planning her next comedy skit, Pyper America Smith believes her secret weapon is something she’s had since she was small – her faith. ‘Growing up in the [Mormon] Church and community in Utah has built me up into this person who can [deal with a place like] LA, which is so busy and crazy,’ she says. ‘If I need time to reflect, I have this huge part of me that I just hold on to. It’s kind of like my rock.’
Photographs by David Roemer, styling by Jayne Pickering.