Hedvig Palm has been modeling since the age of 15, though she started slowly, even reluctantly. “The first few months, I did nothing; just a few editorials on the weekend,” she said shyly. “I didn’t want to miss any school.” She made her runway debut at the fall 2011 couture shows — Valentino, Bouchra Jarrar, Maison Rabih Kayrouz among them — which took place during the summer and therefore did not intervene with her studies. School has always been the top priority for the Swedish model, who’s repped worldwide by Next Management.
Now a 19-year-old high school graduate, Palm continues to take classes online for fun and is toying with the idea of becoming a medical researcher. In the meantime, she’s made plenty of time for the catwalk, having walked 47 shows during the most recent spring season including Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Prada, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten, Oscar de la Renta and Alexander Wang. In 2012, she landed quite the coup: a spot in Louis Vuitton’s fall campaign. Numerous editorials in Love Magazine, Vogue Italia, British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar soon followed. Currently living in a model apartment in Manhattan, Palm said she spends her free time going to museums and playing the cello.
WWD: How did you start modeling?
Hedvig Palm: I was discovered in Stockholm. It happened when I was 15, but I wasn’t interested. But then it happened a few more times that summer and I started thinking, “Well, maybe.” A year later, I ran into the same person that discovered me the first time, and he was like, “It’s you again!” And I said “OK, maybe I can try.” My first test shoot was a really nice experience. But I didn’t tell anybody, none of my friends.
WWD: You’ve always been very focused on school.
H.P.: I really wanted to finish [high school] and feel that I did my best. It went very well. I studied mostly natural science and mathematics. And I’m interested in biochemistry. I would like to become a medical researcher. I’m actually studying a course of philosophy online — but I’m not gonna become a philosopher or anything. Just for fun.
WWD: What do you like to do when you’re not modeling?
H.P.: I’ve had a great interest in music since I was little. My parents are not professional musicians, but they play all the time. I started playing cello when I was 9. I still do. I rented a cello here in New York, actually. I sing, too. My family lives a bit outside Stockholm, but when I was 10, I started at a special singing school in Stockholm with my brother.
WWD: When you travel, what do you miss the most from your hometown?
H.P.: Probably some kind of food. I think every Swedish person that moves anywhere eventually goes to Ikea to buy these strange Swedish things that they are never able to eat.
WWD: Runway versus editorial work — is there one you enjoy more?
H.P.: I feel like I’ve done mostly runway because that’s what worked best with school. Every season, with school, I would go home for a few days for an exam. But I think editorials are more fun — you can get into a role.
WWD: What’s the most challenging part of the runway season?
H.P.: To stay focused. Even if you’re super tired, you have to be professional. It’s a whole month of craziness, but you still have to be very professional every day.
WWD: What are some of your goals?
H.P.: I would love some more covers — a Vogue Italia cover would be nice. I’d love to work with more great photographers. And I’d love to work in Africa. I’d love to do a shoot with lions and giraffes.
WWD: Do you view modeling as a lasting career?
H.P.: I’m gonna do it until I know what I will do next. Maybe one year, maybe five. It depends on how it goes. I take it as it comes. I’m not expecting anything. I’m happy for everything I do.
WWD: If you could give a runway newcomer some advice, what would it be?
H.P.: To be nice. But also to be confident and remember who you are.