Already a recognized face around Montauk, model Martha Hunt is about to achieve superstardom as one of Victoria Secret's newest crop of Angels.
Over the course of its history, lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret has made megastars of its models, turning Angels, including Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Karlie Kloss, into household names. Now the brand is poised to lift 10 more beauties into the stratosphere, including Martha Hunt, a 26-year-old North Carolina native who appeared in the brand’s famed holiday fashion show and catalogs before being named to the 2015 class of Angels.
Hunt got her start in her early teens after entering a model-search contest in her home state. “I was so long and awkward and skinny, and I hadn’t really grown into my features yet,” she says of her preteen years. “People were like, ‘You can be a model; you look really different,’ so I just got so used to hearing it.” Already a rising star in the industry, Hunt had modeled with Free People before joining Victoria’s Secret at the end of 2012. Here, she talks about the catalog shoot that changed the course of her career, what it means to #TrainLikeAnAngel in light of her challenges with scoliosis, and hanging in the Hamptons with her fabulous crew of famous friends.
How were you first discovered as a model? I went to a model-search in North Carolina, and that’s where I got introduced to some agencies in New York. I went with a small one [at first] because I wanted to focus on finishing high school.
When did you start working with Victoria’s Secret? I started out with the catalog and worked my way up. One day, Ed Razek [chief marketing officer of creative services of Limited Brands, Victoria’s Secret’s parent company] came by my shoot to meet with the photographer, and everything changed from that moment on. He took a chance on me and put me on an advertising job. That was huge for me, because that took me from just being one of the catalog girls to being one of the featured girls.
Millions of people see the advertising and the shows. How do you prepare for a big Victoria’s Secret shoot? You don’t want to overthink it; you want to still be yourself, but you want to be the best version of yourself. I work out, train really hard, and eat healthy food. You don’t want to be too thin; you want to be fit and a good example of a feminine woman’s body.
The core group of Angels spends a lot of time together; do you have a Victoria’s Secret BFF? Lily Aldridge—I really look up to her; she’s a good role model for me. She’s a mom and this super-successful model, and she also has this great sense of style. Also, she’s really kind. Every time I hang out with her I like her more.
It’s so nice to hear that you’re friends and not in this massive catfight. We have to support one another. It’s this weird microcosm that we’re in together, so we have to be there for one another.
You’ve posted quotes on social media about strong women. Who are your role models and heroes? Definitely my sister, Caroline, because I see her comjuggle a career and being a mom. And Taylor Swift—I can’t say enough good things about her. I admire her so much as a person and as a role model for young women. I think we need more people like her; people who want to bring women together and not oversexualize themselves. Plus, she’s talented, and she’s just the best.
Have you ever thought about how you would balance it all if you had a family? I have thought about that, and it has been great seeing how successfully Lily, Alessandra, Doutzen [Kroes], and Adriana [Lima] have all managed to maintain great careers—in fact, some of their careers have been getting better and better—and, in a way, I think motherhood helps them to be more focused. That’s really inspiring because I know one day that I can be like that as well. In some weird way, having a dog reminds me I can’t be at this party forever; I have to go home and feed her and figure out when she’s going to get walked, and I love having that focus. Anything that helps give me a normal balance in life makes me happy.
How has your family helped support your career and your success? They’ve been such great support. Even though they’re conservative, they’ve been very open-minded about the opportunities this job can give me. I feel the worst for my brother; he probably has to hear way too much about it, but he’s such a good sport. They’re all so proud of me, so it’s great to have them [to lean on]. A lot of the friends I have made in New York—Taylor included—all come from smaller towns and have hard-working families, and we support each other and are there for one another. Knowing, in case you fail, that somebody will be there to hug you and cook you a nice meal makes such a big difference when you go off into the world trying to achieve something.
“Anything that helps give me a normal balance in life makes me happy.”
What would you say is your favorite thing about your job? I would say the traveling, but that’s also sort of my least favorite. It was always a dream of mine to be able to travel, and, immediately, that is what this job gave me.
What part of the job do you find particularly challenging? Just never knowing where you’re going to be. It’s very hard to plan for anything—you can’t even plan a doctor’s appointment. I’m often the person who cancels, not because I want to, but because I just can’t be there. You have to take the work as it comes. Friends are understanding of that; they have to be.
What was your splurge when you got your first big check? It was a Balenciaga bag. I still have it—leather, dark brown.… I justified the purchase because we models always carry our big books to castings, so I needed a nice big bag to put my book in. I immediately felt kind of guilty about it because it was so much money, but I’ve used that bag so many times that the leather has worn away at least twice, and I’ve had to take it to the leather spa. That’s how I feel about bags and coats—you can buy really expensive and nice bags and coats because they wear well, and as long as they’re classic pieces, they are investments.
How do you like to spend your downtime? I cook and hang out with my friends, watch basketball, walk my dog. I do all the normal things that everyone else does.
Are you a good cook? I just made a squash red-lentil curry—it’s really yummy. And I made a roast chicken that was delicious.
It seems like everything you cook is healthful… I’m not saying everything I cook is healthy. I have made sliders and scalloped potatoes. Some of my favorites are not so healthy, that’s for sure. French fries and ice cream, those are my vice.
What does it mean for you to #TrainLikeAnAngel as you posted on Instagram? These days I try to keep it very low-impact. I have scoliosis, so exercising can be really hard on my back; I try to mostly do Pilates and resistance-band-based workouts—softer exercises that build strength from the inside of the muscle.
What does having scoliosis mean for you and how you carry yourself? I first noticed [the curvature of my spine] when I was 14, and then it progressed more and more. I saw a doctor, who sent me to a surgeon, and after graduating high school, I had back surgery. They put metal rods in my back to help straighten me out. It has worked out great, but it’s a little harder to exercise, and I have to be more careful in life in general. It has definitely made walking the runway a little more of a challenge for me, but I’m just so thankful that I’ve been able to walk runways and achieve so much, even with this condition.
“I've always loved the water, the beach lifestyle, so I love everything about Montauk.”
Have you spent a lot of time in the Hamptons? I’ve been mostly to Montauk. I’ve surfed a couple of times—I don’t want to call myself a surfer—and I love getting in the waves; it’s so exciting. I’ve always loved the water, the beach lifestyle, so I love everything about Montauk.
Where are some of your favorite local places? Because I grew up in North Carolina, we always had the Outer Banks to retreat to in the summer; Montauk gives me the same kind of feeling. The Crow’s Nest Inn is totally my vibe—I love that place. It has these adorable little cottages, and they let me bring my dog, Bear, there. The food is delicious, and I love the laid-back atmosphere. It is the perfect place for me.
photography by RANDALL SLAVIN. Location courtesy of Baha Mar, the new Bahamian Riviera, set on 3,000 feet of pristine beachfront in Nassau. Baha Mar features four hotels; a luxury villa designed by Grammy Award–winning musician Lenny Kravitz; private residences; a world-class, Jack Nicklaus–designed 18-hole golf course and clubhouse; multiple restaurants and retailers; a nightclub; a lavish 30,000-square-foot spa; three 14-foot-deep blue-hole pools; and the Baha Mar Casino—the crown jewel of the resort, featuring 100,000 square feet of gaming and rivaling the best casinos in the world. beauté: Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick in Warm Natural ($44), Metallic Eye Shadow in Burnt Sugar ($24). White’s Pharmacy, 81 Main St., East Hampton, 324-0082. Face Stockholm Eye Dust
in Reality ($22). Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil
in Sex Machine ($26). Bloomingdale’s, Walt Whitman Shops, 270
Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station, 425-6700. Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray ($39) and Thick Dry Finishing Spray ($39).
27 Hampton Salon,
27 Hampton Road, Southampton, 377-3107