By: Abbey Adams
Photos By: Dimitrios Kambouris
Courtesy: Sevan Kalayjian Everitt Full Picture
Rachel Hilbert sashays down the long glistening runway in a salmon colored track jacket. Underneath? A mint colored bra and panty set. Her bleach blonde curls bounce with each step as she makes a kissy face toward the camera. Did I mention this is the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show? Her debut was in 2015, as she was named the face of their PINK line, a branch of VS launched in 2002 geared towards 15-22 year olds to introduce them to the brand. Selling pajamas, sweats, underwear, bras, activewear, etc. Rachel also walked in the 2016 Fashion Show last December in Paris featuring Lady Gaga, the Weeknd, and Bruno Mars. She was once again proudly sporting PINK gear.
Hilbert grew up in Rochester, NY, graduating from Webster High School. She was a very active child, taking part in various activities”I “I was full of energy. I grew up dancing and downhill skiing at Bristol mountain,” says Hilbert. Modeling wasn’t really on her radar until she was 16 years old. A trip to New York City forever changed her life. Working for brands like Urban Outfitters, Target, Delia’s, and Macy’s gave Rachel a taste of what was to come in her future. She immediately signed with an agent and started working with the Victoria’s Secret PINK brand. She says, “It all happened so fast…It’s really been an incredible journey.” There’s no doubt the Big Apple holds a special place in her heart not only because of all it has given her career-wise, but how close it is to her home and family. “I see them as much as possible. Some of them will meet me on set or location if I’m in a fun place,” says Hilbert.
Fast-forward to now and 21-year-old Rachel Hilbert is jet-setting all over the world, making appearances, doing photo shoots, walking long glistening runways, and hanging out with big-time models in the industry. How does it feel coming from a small upstate NY area to be representing one of the biggest lingerie fashion empires in the world? “It’s so wild seeing my picture larger than life in a window of a PINK store in SoHo. Sometimes if I’m shopping there people recognize me, which is crazy!” said Hilbert. Not only do people recognize her, but she now has fans who follow her every move and show their support for all her achievements. With 441,000 followers on Instagram and 20.9 thousand followers on Twitter, everything Hilbert does, is being watched. Many models in 2016 have made the transition into media stars. We see/hear about them everyday, from Kendall Jenner to Cara Delevingne, and Gigi Hadid. There’s no doubt that being a model puts you in the immediate limelight for a massive following. Hilbert doesn’t seem negatively phased by this new-age popularity and level of social media stardom, she says, “I love engaging with my fans and really appreciate all of my followers…It’s been interesting to watch how the industry has used social media to shape the fashion industry.
Whether it’s doing castings via Instagram or Facebook Live events for Fashion Shows. We are living in a tech world now.” Hilbert keeps it real posting pictures of her modeling in action, posing with herself (and sometimes pizza) on Victoria’s Secret posters, and staying grateful for all she’s been given so far. “Despite the increase in fame, I always try to remain grounded. That is how I was raised. I surround myself with good people, which helps keep me focused.”
Working with many big names has left an unforgettable impression on the Upstate NY native. Receiving advice from VS vets is the norm for Rachel “It’s been incredible being surrounded by such powerhouses. They all have such amazing advice to give and are all so friendly. I have learned a lot by even just seeing them in action.” She has learned to be herself and enjoy every minute of everything she does and in the midst of all that craziness, she stays focused. Hilbert keeps on track with her personal trainer who whips her into shape 3-5 times a week working in boxing and pilates to stay fit for the runway. What can you find on her gym play list? Fun artists like Drake, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and Rihanna.
What’s in store for Rachel Hilbert? She definitely sees herself modeling long term but wants to keep her options open, saying, “I am also interested in becoming an on-air host. I’ve had a few TV gigs that have been really enjoyable.” She has appeared on an episode of TV Land’s new hit show “Younger” alongside Hilary Duff and Sutton Foster, and starred in country singer Brett Eldridge’s video for his song, “Lose My Mind.”
Rachel is a trailblazer for women everywhere, especially in Upstate NY, where fashion shows, Paris, and modeling seem like something in a far away world that we see and hear about, but never visualize as a reality. Although this wasn’t a childhood dream, she has now made it a successful dream. Rachel’s advice is to, “Fight for what you want and stay positive even if people try to discourage you. It’s important to set goals and work really hard to achieve them!”