TOMMY’S COUP: THE FIRST NIECE

Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — “I just felt it was a good match. The clothes are just really clean and fit with who I am,” said Lauren Bush, the President’s 17-year-old niece, as she took a break from shooting the new Tommy Jeans campaign on location this week in Florida.
It’s a big coup for Tommy Hilfiger, who signed Bush to an exclusive two-year modeling contract for the jeans collection. The print campaign was shot by Carter Smith and will break in mid-March in outdoor venues and April consumer magazines. Bush will also appear in TV ads next year. The spring advertising budget is between $6 million and $8 million, about the same as last year.
“It’s been awesome,” Bush told WWD in an exclusive interview. “It’s really nice right now, and we’re shooting on the bay.”
And, she added, Carter Smith “is cool.”
The five-foot-seven-inch Texas high school senior is the daughter of Houstonians Neil and Sharon Bush and granddaughter of former president George Bush. Bush has been modeling for the past three years but became a hot property after her uncle’s election. She made her runway debut in February on the catwalk of Rome-based designer Gai Mattiolo, and has posed for the covers of Tatler and Town & Country. A few years ago, she modeled for the Abercrombie & Fitch ad campaign, shot by Bruce Weber, and has also been featured in the pages of W (when she was 14) and more recently Talk, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Conde Nast Traveler.
This is Bush’s first exclusive advertising contract.
No stranger to media attention, Bush attracted a lot of press earlier in the year when the British press ran wild with her Paris debut. Rumors swirled of a romance with Prince William, with whom she had corresponded by e-mail, but never met.
Bush explained that she “just kind of fell into modeling.” A few years ago, she was visiting friends here and one suggested modeling “could be a fun hobby.” She ended up signing with an agency.
Bush is applying to colleges for next fall, and hopes to attend a school in the North. She said she plans to continue modeling for a while and would take time off from school for shoots.
“It’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I don’t think you can. I plan to study international business right now,” said Bush, whose hobbies include tennis, photography and art.
While she said she loved doing the runway show in Milan last February, she didn’t do the catwalks this past season, but hopes to do it again.
“It was an awesome experience. But when you’re in school, it’s hard to catch up” with the work. Asked if she’s a good student, Bush replied, “I try to be.”
She said her agency selects only those jobs that are crucial for her. She said she donates a portion of her earnings to charities, particularly those serving children or animals, and intends to donate a percentage of her Hilfiger earnings to the disaster relief fund.
One of the best things about appearing in the campaign, she said, is that she loves wearing Hilfiger’s clothes.
“Yes, I really have been into the clothes. They’re very energetic, sporty and fun and comfortable. I would pretty much wear all of them,” she said.
For the campaign, Bush posed with a group of five other models, including Amy Lemons, who also has a two-year contract with Tommy Jeans.
“I’ve been using Lauren Bush in Europe quite a bit for modeling in shows and personal appearances,” said Tommy Hilfiger. “We’ve had a relationship for a long time, and she’s been wearing our clothes. She’s been a fan of ours, and we’ve been a fan of hers.”
He said they first met two years ago in Florida, when she modeled for Hilfiger in a Dillard’s fashion show. Last March, Bush made an appearance at Hilfiger’s London flagship on Sloane Street on the designer’s behalf. Bush posed in denim shorts and a gingham top in the window of the store and inside with a Hilfiger guitar.
“I think Lauren is really all-American. She’s a great jeans girl,” said Hilfiger. In fact, when Bush appeared on the cover of Tatler this fall, she was wrapped in Hilfiger’s flag quilt and was featured inside wearing Hilfiger jeans.

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