She has over one hundred million followers on Instagram, belongs to one of the most famous families on the planet and is currently the most sought after – and highest-paid – supermodel in fashion. But don’t call Kendall Jenner, the second youngest Kardashian sibling, a millennial icon. “It’s weird for me to call myself that,” says the 23 year-old. We’re talking over the phone - a brief and somewhat surreal call punctuated by Jenner’s laidback Californian drawl and friendly but reserved conversation. “I try not to think of myself as an icon too much.”
Whatever you make of Jenner and her four sisters – Kim, Kourtney, Khloe and Kylie – the Kardashian clan have certainly redefined the business of being a celebrity for the 21st century. And however Jenner wants to describe herself, she joins forces, this week, with an incontestible fashion icon, Tiffany & Co., on its spring ‘19 advertising campaign – one of the jeweller’s five new female ambassadors, alongside fellow models Carolyn Murphy, Imman Hammam, Mica Argañaraz and Fei Fei Sun.
The campaign, which launched yesterday, is the latest move by the heritage brand to appeal to a younger audience. “I’ve always loved Tiffany, it was such an honour to be part of the company and the collaboration,” says Jenner, “It’s a dream come true.”
This is one of the first brands that Jenner has endorsed since she broke her silence over her involvement with the now infamous Fyre Festival. Having been paid a reported $250,000 for a single Instagram post promoting the festival, Jenner was widely lambasted when its spectacular failure to launch left attendees and many who worked on it out of pocket.
“You get reached out to by people to, whether it be to promote or help or whatever, and you never know how these things are going to turn out, sometimes it’s a risk,” she told The New York Times, last month.
Not the only controversy to plague the model (in 2017 she received tremendous backlash after starring in a Pepsi advert, which was widely thought to exploit the #BlackLivesMatter movement), the last few years have been anything but straightforward for Jenner. After experiencing anxiety and panic attacks she took a hiatus from the catwalk, where she had been a regular for mega-brands including Chanel, Givenchy and Burberry, and has spoken about her struggles with mental health.
“Honestly, the last four years for me have been really telling. I’ve gotten to a really good place in life,” she says. Now back on the catwalk (this season she walked in Versace’s autumn/winter show), Jenner balances her modelling career with time spent riding her horses in her native California, and practising Transcendental Meditation.
Jenner’s selling power, whether on or off the catwalk, is rivalled only by her sisters, and sees her catapult pieces to cult buy status on a near daily basis; we have her to 'thank' for both the micro-specs and cycling shorts trend, last year, while the Ganni cowboy boots she wore at Coachella, last weekend, are set to become the shoe of the summer.
She describes her style as “comfortable and also funky. I love to push boundaries. Style is meant to be fun and adventurous and I try my best to do that.”
But Jenner hasn’t always been comfortable with how she looks. “My sisters are a lot curvier than me,” she says. “They have boobs and I don’t have boobs. Growing up being this little twiggy girl, I saw my sisters and always thought ‘oh no am I supposed to be more sexy like them?’”
For someone who has walked in the annual Victoria’s Secrets show since her teens, has been the face of La Perla lingerie and who currently stars in Calvin Klein’s underwear campaign (whose previous faces include Christy Turlington, Kate Moss and Lara Stone), Jenner’s allure can hardly be called into question.
However, at 5’10” and with supermodel proportions, it's true she doesn’t have the trademark Kardashian cartoonesque curves – something that she hasn’t always found easy, “I almost felt like I didn’t fit in for a part of my life”.
Kendall poses with her sisters, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, on her Instagram page @KendallJenner.
In fact, when it comes to the Kardashian pack, Jenner is often described as the lone wolf. Physicalities aside, she is only sister not to have children yet (21-year old Kylie gave birth to a daughter, Stormi, last year) and is known for being more private then her tell-all siblings; she kept her year-long relationship with basketball player Ben Simmons under wraps until early this year.
“I’m not necessarily a lot like them,” she says. But the self-confessed “nerd” of the family says she’s made peace with her differences: “I like that I have a different vibe to everyone. I like to do different things. And that’s OK.”
One thing that all five sisters do have in common is their famous entrepreneurial spirit. With numerous fashion and cosmetic lines, apps, books and, of course, TV shows under Brand Kardashian, the family is a lesson in monetizing influence and the art of the portfolio career – 38-year old Kim has just revealed that she is pursuing a career in law, while Kylie was officially declared the youngest ever self-made billionaire by Forbes magazine, last month.
“We’re a very female-heavy, work-driven family,” says Jenner. Lucrative, too, of course – together, they're worth a total of around £1 billion, whilst speculative estimates of Jenner’s personal annual income (a subject that is firmly off the cards for our interview) range from £17-£22m.
Jenner will tell me that she’s not afraid to spend her money: “We all work really hard. It’s an empowering feeling to be able to give yourself a little gift that you know you’ll love for a long time.” Her self-gift of choice? Though she’s known for her collection of classic cars – the latest addition to which is reportedly a lilac vintage Eldorado Biarritz – she’s on brand today, agreeing diamonds are a girl’s best friend. “Of course, what kind of a question is that?”
On the subject of diamonds, could an engagement ring be on the cards soon? If Jenner could receive a Tiffany Blue Box from anyone, she says, it would have been her celebrity crush, Audrey Hepburn. Though the actress died two years before she was born, “I’ve always looked up to her and loved her and thought she was incredible.”
“I love learning from other women and feeding off each other and supporting each other,” Jenner adds. With friends including fellow supermodels, Bella and Gigi Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Cara Delevingne, not only does she belong to a powerful female dynasty, she’s part of the most influential girl gang going.
To that end, her most treasured possession? “Female relationships," she answers, with certainty. "To have women around me now – whether it’s friends or family – it’s super important for me.”
Kendall Jenner is the face of Tiffany & Co. Spring 2019 Campaign