Barbara Palvin may have just turned 22 this month but she already has five years of modeling experience and a slew of campaigns and commercials in her bag. That’s a lot more than what her peers in the business can say. A frequent face in beauty, the doe-eyed Hungarian got her big break in 2011 as the face of Chanel Beauty, but it was her contract with L’Oreal that launched her career, turning her into a face seen nearly everywhere, from drugstores and movie theatres to towering billboards across the world. You may not remember it, but chances are you probably have seen one of her campaigns.
While modeling is her main game, Palvin has dabbled in acting – she made a cameo appearance in Brett Ratner’s Hercules (2014) – a career she may pursue when she leaves the modeling industry. In person, the baby-faced model is as bubbly and easy-going as you’d expect her to be, but there are also hints of a certain maturity that surpasses her young age. Here, Palvin opens up about acting, bad press, beauty, not being “very good” on the runway and secret talents (you’ll never guess what it is).
Wool coat with fox fur sleeves, Marni. Lambskin bodysuit, Alexander Wang. Nappa leather boots, Givenchy By Riccardo Tisci. Fishnet stocking (worn throughout), Saint Laurent
So, you started modeling at a young age. Did you have any concerns back then?
No, I didn’t have any problems. It was easy. My mum was travelling with me everywhere so I wasn’t even alone, even when I went to Japan. She was helping me a lot, even on photo shoots. If there ever was something I didn’t want to do, she’d be there to help me, but that has never really happened.
Do you have any advice for young models that are just starting out?
When I did shows, my first two seasons were really good, but then it started to not work out because I was considered short, and I started to feel that modeling was not for me. I almost gave up. So, what I’m saying is, don’t give up, even when you don’t get a job straightaway because there will be ups and downs, and that’s normal.
You’ve worked with many photographers over your career. Is there one that stands out?
Jack [Waterlot]! What can I say? I mean, come on! [Laughs]
Wool tailcoat with Marmot fur stole, Givenchy By Riccardo Tisci. Polyamid elastane bralette, Bordelle
What about runway shows?
My first Chanel show. I was crying. It was at the Grand Palais, there was live music and it was just so beautiful. It was just such an intense experience.
You don’t do many shows now, though.
It’s partly because I’m not very good at it. I’m not very tall or skinny. I don’t have the runway look. It’s also a personal choice because I always ended up being disappointed and that’s not good for my confidence. I did just do the Chanel show in Korea though! It was good to be back on the runway. If [Chanel] asks me to do a show, I do it with no questions asked.
You were in the film Hercules alongside Dwayne Johnson. Do you plan to go into acting soon?
Yeah…and no. [Laughs] Like, I want to do it, I want to try it, but acting is different, for sure. In L’Oreal, we act a little bit for the commercials and if you’re a model, you have to be a good actress because you can’t just stand there with just one look. For example, you’ve got a rock ‘n’ roll look on, you don’t just stand there looking like a little girl, you have to get into the mood.
Wool tailcoat with Marmot fur stole, Givenchy By Riccardo Tisci
How many more years do you see yourself in modeling?
With this baby face? [Laughs] I think I really want to get it out, maximize the time I have left. So, I’d say two more years? Following that, I see myself having two options. Either I have a family and a husband and have my own business maybe, or become an actress but still have a husband, just no kids.
You’re friends with many Hollywood celebrities and tabloids
have brought you into their drama before. How do you deal with all this negativity?
Well, you know, my family and friends know what’s true, and that’s all I care about. I mean, there were some moments when I had enough of the hate and I snapped and said something, but I’ve learned that it’s better to just leave it.
Do you have paparazzi following you around?
It depends. For example, in Japan, they know when I’m coming so they will be there. It doesn’t happen all the time though; I’m pretty good at hiding.
Patchwork shearling leather coat and lambskin sheath dress, Calvin Klein Collection
You’ve been in the industry for many years. Do you think you’ve changed as a person?
I’m definitely more mature, but I don’t think I’ve changed very much. I’m the same stupid little girl that I was and still am when I’m at home.
You’ve fronted a lot of beauty campaigns. What are the products you absolutely swear by?
I love the Miss Manga Mascara by L’Oreal. That’s my favourite. Hmm, what do I love? I love the Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation, that’s the newest one. Every time they bring out a new one, I’m like, “Wow, this is even better!” and another one comes along and I’m like, “This is even better!” [Laughs] I always use the Hydrafresh range as well.
Do you have any beauty secrets?
I don’t know, I don’t really have any. I do try to keep my skin clean. I don’t wear makeup if I don’t have to.
What about secret talents?
I’m a good cook! And I love singing and I play soccer. The last time I was asked this question, I couldn’t answer and I was like, “F—k! This is my secret talent?” It just doesn’t come to mind very easily.
Metallic silk triacetate pleat dress with high collar, LOEWE. Patent leather pumps with skinny square stiletto heels, Saint laurent
I’ve heard that you love to read.
I love reading. That’s my talent! I read 400 pages in one day. I’m a very quick reader. I was in Bangkok recently and I had two books, about 700 pages, and I finished it in two days. Oh, wait – I remember another secret talent now! I’m good at remembering numbers. I’m super good with numbers. If someone gave me an address or a telephone number, say two months ago, I’d still remember it.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently if you weren’t a model?
I wish I went to college. I didn’t really have a chance because I was signed with L’Oreal when I had just finished high school, so I got really busy. I was doing a lot of Victoria’s Secret stuff as well. But, I mean, I can still do it, and I want to do it. I want to study law.
Photography by Jack Waterlot
Styling Jumius Wong and Jack Wang
Hair: Fernando Torrent/L’Atelier NYC
Makeup: Yumi Lee/L’Atelier NYC using L’Oreal
Manicurist : Yukie Miyakawa / Kate Ryan Inc.
Photography Assistant: Herman Van Den Brandt
Styling Assistants: Erin McSherry & Jingni Oh
Model: Barbara Palvin/IMG
Radzmire coat, Prada
Python skin double-breasted pea coat, miu miu. Stretch thigh-high boots in printed vinyl with translucent heel, Dior. Harness dress with oversized rings in 18K gold, Bordelle