In a news that did not really surprise anyone in the fashion business, Forbes magazine recently made the announcement that Kendall Jenner, 22, has knocked supermodel Gisele Bundchen, 37, off the top spot of modelling rich-list – the first time in 15 years.After all this was a business that many believed needed God-given beauty and to be “discovered” by a well-connected scout. Yet, this Kendall’s story has proven this not to be the status quo any more, as shines atop and leads the world’s top models.Kendall, half sister of Kim Kardashian, made an astonishing £17million last year. Not bad for a girl who, as early episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians will attest, certainly wasn’t born with supermodel looks. While pretty, Kendall did not have the otherworldly beauty or natural star quality possessed, for example, by a young Kate Moss. But what she lacked in raw potential, Kendall made up for with ambition in bucketloads.In a letter she wrote to herself, aged 14, which she read out recently on America’s Tonight Show, she said: “My goal in life is to become a big-time model and travel to really amazing places. And I’m really excited to read this in the future.” All the Kardashian-Jenner sisters know that ambition can get you just about anywhere. It is a lesson they learned from their famously pushy mother, Kris. Even Kendall’s part in the much-derided Pepsi ad of April 2017, which saw her bringing a protest to a halt with a can of the fizzy drink, left her unscathed.She claimed to be ignorant of the multi-million pound ad’s tone-deaf message, sobbing afterwards: “I would never purposely hurt someone, ever. If I knew this was gonna be the outcome, I would have never done something like this.” Amid reports that Kris was furious with the soft drinks giant, Pepsi put out a statement apologising for “putting Kendall Jenner in this position”.
Neither Kendall nor Kris were about to let the Pepsi ad ruin her career, especially as, according to Kendall, it had been so hard won. She insists: “People think that this (success) just came to me. But it didn’t. What I have has almost worked against me.”Her family name did not seem to count against her when she made her catwalk debut aged 18 in the Marc Jacobs show, the most coveted gig of New York Fashion Week. It was quite the coup for a newbie, not least because Katie Grand, the superstylist who cast the 2014 show, admitted she was “underwhelmed” by Kendall on their first meeting.Nevertheless, thanks to some pressure from Kendall’s agent, Grand gave Kendall a second chance and was impressed by her “super-ambitious and super-professional” attitude. Kendall’s appearance at the show, wearing a nipple-baring sheer top, caused a storm. She found herself booked for top designers including Chanel, Giles Deacon and Karl Lagerfeld.She also had major success as part of French designer Olivier Rousteing’s “Balmain army”. Rousteing happens to be a close friend of Kendall’s sister Kim and her husband Kanye West. Kendall’s meteoric rise caused some resentment among other models and Kendall was allegedly bullied by jealous rivals who would put cigarettes in her drinks — although she has denied this.Whether or not her name and connections got Kendall a leg up into the fashion industry, one thing is for sure — she has a social media reach that many of her counterparts can’t hope to match.On Instagram she has 85million followers, compared to Gisele, who has 13.5million, and a photo of her lying on the floor with her hair in heart formations is one of the most “liked” posts of all time.
Brands understand how powerful that is. On the day she was signed as the face of Estee Lauder in 2014, the company received six times more visitors to their website, 90 per cent of whom were first timers.And what of that not-so-God-given beauty? Kendall has always denied having any cosmetic enhancement, but her nose appears slimmer, her lips plumper and her cheeks fuller than in her early years — although this could just be clever make-up. Natural or not, it is a face you better get used to, because we will all be seeing plenty more of Kendall Jenner.Photo Credit: Getty