Hailey Bieber is one of the best-dressed women alive, in part because she’s so willing to mess up. “I look back at things I’ve worn and I’m literally so embarrassed. I’m thinking, what was I thinking?! It was a miss, she tells me from Idaho, where she and her pop superstar husband, Justin Bieber, have disappeared for a mini-vacation. It’s a surprising admission for someone who telegraphs such confidence, whether she’s hitting the gym or Oscar parties, and whose style is so obsessively chronicled. However, embarrassment is different from regret. “I’m never afraid to try anything. I think it just shows that there is a moving development [in my style]. It just keeps growing. That’s how I want to be in all areas of life.”
Bieber, who is 25, describes himself as “a very regimented and experienced person.” She grew up as a Hollywood child, daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin and Brazilian-born Kennya Baldwin, and trained as a ballerina. But part of what makes her so successful is her ability to cope with change. In the last year she went through a personal health trauma, experiencing a stroke-like episode from a blood clot in March. Then in June, Justin was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome and experienced facial paralysis, causing him to postpone a number of US tour dates. That same month, Hailey launched a skincare line, Rhode (her middle name), which had been in the works for more than two years and has already won plaudits from discerning beauty fanatics.
“I’m never afraid to try anything. … That’s how I want to be in all areas of life.”
Her vision of marriage is paradoxically progressive. Many people in their 20s and 30s see marriage as something you do when life has reached stability, but Bieber, who married at 21, sees it as just the beginning: You don’t figure things out and get married, but marry and find out. things out. “I just think life changes all the time,” she says. “Day to day, week to week, year to year. I think a perfect example of that is over the last six months, we’ve both been going through very serious health issues. You gotta figure out how to deal with this shit as it comes, you know? There’s a reason they say “for better or for worse.” Like, it’s real!”
The same figure-it-out-as-you-go approach seems to apply to the way she dresses. She says her style “evolves every two months,” but what makes her stand out is her care and willingness to take chances. Her hair, nails and skin are always done in an impeccably tapered manner, creating a restrained elegance around even the most pulled-together look. She also actively searches for new designers – often years before they appear on the celebrity radar. She is a muse for ERL, the label founded by vivacious designer Eli Russell Linnetz, and was an early fan of Martine Rose, whose name has been floated as a potential successor to Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton. (Abloh famously designed Bieber’s wedding dress.)
“She’s one of the most stylish women I know,” says stylist Karla Welch, who has worked with Justin for years and Hailey for red carpet looks. “I was at an event recently and everyone looked like her. That’s how powerful and influential she is.”
“You’ve got to figure out how to deal with this shit as it comes, you know? There’s a reason they say “for better or for worse.”
Still, Bieber is a street-style individualist. She looks stunning in the usual influencer uniforms, such as oversized greige suits and the yassified Princess Diana after-gym ensemble of baggy T-shirt, skimpy bike shorts and trainers. But she also wears things that are truly self-possessed: a pure white Coperni lace dress with funky little rosettes, weird jeans from Eytys, or a Jean Paul Gaultier look from the golden age of the 1990s. Her style is not the effort of a well-assembled team, but the joyous expression of a real clothes horse looking at the men’s department (that’s how she discovered Rose) and scrolling on sites like Ssense.
While Bieber’s looks are hyper-modern, her approach is extremely old-school. She dreams up different “vibes” (to use her favorite word) for trips and events, whether it’s a vacation in the Northwest or a friend’s wedding. Her process is true fashion icon behavior. In fact, it’s reminiscent of Diana, whom Bieber paid tribute to in a 2019 magazine shoot, and who also made carefully considered fashion choices with whimsy and ease. “I was really inspired by the fact that she was the most looked-at woman in the world at the time, of all time, and she did what she wanted with her style,” Bieber says of the late princess. “She really expressed herself through her style despite being in the position she was in.”
Diana’s status as a paparazzi target also resonates with Bieber. She admits that getting dressed sometimes makes her anxious, despite how much she loves it. “I get photographed so much that I feel like I’m putting pressure on myself sometimes.” Partly it is her own perfectionism. “Even if I’m just throwing on jeans and a T-shirt, I want it to be tough jeans and a great T-shirt!”
Bieber always makes an effort – in fashion and romance. The day we spoke it was four years since she and Justin got engaged. “He’s still the person I want to rush back to,” Bieber says. “I can fly somewhere and do a job, but I can’t wait to come back and hang out. And I feel it’s because of the effort put in from both sides. At the end of the day, he’s kind of my best friend, but it still takes a lot of work to make it work. And then I know eventually, when kids come into the picture, it’s going to be a whole other season of navigating how to make it work.”
Whatever comes, she’ll have the right attitude—and look—to take it on.
Hair: Evanie Frausto for Redken; Makeup: Raisa Flowers for MAC; Manicure: Gina Edwards for Dior Vernis; Production: Eric Jacobson at Hen’s Tooth Productions; Scenography: Jesse Kaufmann.
Video: Director/Producer: Amanda DiMartino; Photographer: Ryan DeVita; B-Cam: Kevin Kim; Sound: Xiao Han; Editor: Chris Davies; Motion Designer: Josh Walker.
This article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of the Harper’s Bazaar, available in newsstands August 30.
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