With her sunny disposition and seraphic blue eyes, Hollei Graves is not the kind of girl one would expect to have a penchant for multiple body piercings and profanity-laden tattoos (on the inside of her lip, no less). But that hasn’t stopped the modeling industry from taking a liking to the fresh-faced Texan, rebellious streak and all. Graves made her fashion week debut in February, walking in What Goes Around Comes Around’s fall show and appearing in Behnaz Sarafpour’s presentation. Add the panoply of editorials Graves has under her belt, and we’re betting this up-and-comer will have a strong second outing next season.
Home city: Houston
Birth sign: Sagittarius
How did you get into modeling?
It’s funny. It was a total accident. When I was in Texas, I thought I was signing up to win makeup at a mall and it was actually to sign up for a modeling contest. They called me and I was like, “Did I win the makeup?” And they’re like, “Um, no.” So I showed up in like dinky skateboarding pants and a Volcom T-shirt. I wasn’t looking for the opportunity but it found me.
Was it a culture shock when you moved to New York from Texas?
Not really. I was really open to new things. People are really nice in Texas, but I was always a little bit different. Like, I’ve always worn a lot of black. I never wore makeup. I had straight hair; not big, poufy hair like everyone else.
I’m guessing you weren’t on the pageant circuit?
No, I had a lot of friends who did it. They have all these tips and tricks. A lot of them actually helped me with modeling. They always knew the best ways to get your teeth whiter and the best tricks for fake tanning.
Speaking of, what are your beauty tips?
Be vigilant about washing your face. You’d be surprised how many models don’t take their makeup off after jobs. Also, concealer is a model’s best friend. When you’re getting up at the crack of dawn and you’ve just gotten home a few hours ago from a late shoot, you don’t look so good the next morning.
Who are your favorite designers?
Yves Saint Laurent, definitely. I love the sleekness of Celine. I also really loved Derek Lam’s latest collection.
WWD: How would you describe your personal style?
Simple and classic.
What do you like to do when you’re not modeling?
Growing up, I spent most of my time on ranches so I’m a total tomboy. I like dirt biking and that kind of outdoor stuff. I’m also a big yoga person.
What’s on your iPod?
Old rock: the Stones, Guns N’ Roses, Soundgarden. And then I’m also a big Metallica fan and, as creepy as it is, I love Marilyn Manson. I listen to him a lot.
What are your ultimate modeling goals?
I’m not sure. I already feel a small sense of accomplishment when I see myself in magazines. When I saw myself in German Elle, I was like, ‘I can die happy now!’ It’s small things really, like learning how to walk properly in heels.
Were you not a heels girl before modeling?
Not at all. I’m still afraid I’m going to be on the runway and just eat it. Which, by the way, happened to me when I walked in the Project Runway show at Bryant Part last season. As soon I was walking next to Heidi Klum — splat! But it happened to her once at a Victoria Secret show so hopefully she sympathized.