Kendall Jenner is a mystery we never saw coming.
Sure, we can pretend her meteoric rise to fame was hatched by the all-powerful (and highly polarizing) Kardashian family, led by the seemingly unstoppable Kris Jenner, who savvily extended their lucrative reality show franchise on E! into a full-service, pop-culture behemoth. But the thought of Kendall becoming one of the most in demand high-fashion models on the scene today? Such an idea seemed an unlikely premise given the oldest daughter of mama bear/manager Kris and possibly-transitioning Olympic icon Bruce Jenner was viewed as a sweet but goofy kid who was once roundly mocked for flubbing a line as a presenter at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards musing, "Guys, I'm the worst reader."
But Kendall's recent stunning Calvin Klein campaign--last week, the 19-year-old looker was named the face of the iconic clothing brand--was just the latest power move from the doe-eyed, raven-haired talent as she continues to move from out the mammoth shadow of headliner and omnipresent big sis Kim Kardashian. Here's how Kendall Jenner is charting her own impressive course as she continues to break away from the mighty Kardashian clan.
Create Your Own Path
If Kendall Jenner's aim was simply to become "Kardashian" famous she could have easily settled for a supporting role in E!'s $100 million crown jewel. After all, Keeping Up With The Kardashians has not only made Kim K arguably the tabloid world's most coveted and lucrative figure (Kanye West's voluptuous, business-savvy wife is worth a reported $85 million), it has tremendously raised the profiles of the rest of the sisters. No one would have blamed Kendall for following in the footsteps of the aforementioned Kim, Khloe and Kourtney; not when third-string players like Kourtney's notorious party host beau Scott Disick and lone Kardashian brother Rob have found notoriety just by being featured on the program.
But rather than rest on prospect of teaming up with lil' sis and soon-to-be it-girl Kylie Jenner,17, for their own reality show, Kendall had wider ambitions. She has earned the respect of bigwigs in the modeling industry proving herself to be a hard worker on the catwalk. She was the talk of the Milan, New York and Paris Fashion weeks, strutting her stuff for the storied, high brow likes of Fendi and Chanel as well as populist favorite H&M. And to think it was only last November when the announcement of Kendall being named the face of Estée Lauder was met with ridicule from old schoolers who balked at what they saw as a respected company fraternizing with reality TV fodder. Kendall for the win.
Be The Anti-Kim
Kimmy K. is a lovable exhibitionist who happens to also be one of the most underrated business minds in the celebrity world. She routinely breaks the Internet, exposing her immaculate backside to the world. When she hits the red carpet or attends an event chances are you will find Kim causing a paparazzi stir by wearing the latest see-through, cleavage exposing number. On the flip-side, Kendall has taken a more conservative approach to her style. Long skirts, metallic tops, black leather slacks, a chic cream sweater, and Saint Laurent boots is more in line with her finely-tuned clothing arsenal. Then there are the rumors that Kendall is slowly but surely distancing herself from the ultimate Kim showcase Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Of course this could pose a major problem since VH1's The Gossip Table reported that the suits at E! are freaking out over KUWTK's rather low season premiere ratings. The March 15th opening salvo pulled in 2.4 million, a sharp contrast to a series that at its height was bringing in close to 5 million viewers. The solution of course would be to expand Kendall's and Kylie's role on the show to bring in younger viewers. But with Kendall going hard in the fashion paint such a move seems unlikely at this point. Good thing Kylie, who also dominates the social media landscape just off of her rumored controversial romance with 25-year-old rapper Tyga alone, seems to be embracing the talk that she is next in line to assume Kim's mantle.
Stay Humble And Work Your Proverbial Butt Off
"I've always wanted to be a model ever since I was a kid," Kendall said in a social media package for Calvin Klein. "I did a lot of runway. It was exhausting. I was in four cities and walked a lot of shows." We believe her. Of course no one is saying that modeling is on par with say being a teacher or construction worker, but it's honest work. In addition to establishing her own clothing and accessories collection with Kylie (PacSun), she has a shoe deal with Steve Madden's Madden Girl line.
It seems like Kendall's hard work is paying off. "I think what's so exciting about her is that she has this social media influence along with a fashion credibility in a distinct way that speaks to millennials," Jane Hertzmark Hudis, the global brand president of Estée Lauder, beamed of the enterprising beauty in a New York Times profile last November. "There is really no one else like her out there."