The disarming grin below belongs to a 19-year-old country girl who came to New York last September to be a model. Her name is Margaux Hemingway, and in case the folks back in Idaho haven't heard, she is doing just fine. In fact, that is Margaux on water skis on page 33 of this issue, helping to brighten all our Januaries.
Hers would be an average, heartwarming American success story, the kind Hollywood used to make movies about starring Jean Arthur, if it were not for a few details that even Hollywood in its prime might not have dreamed up.
For instance, her first name. Once it was Margot, but she changed it when her parents let slip that she owed her existence to a particularly good bottle of the fine Bordeaux wine called Margaux. And her background. She is a Hemingway of the Ketchum, Idaho Hemingways, and that, of course, means grandpapa was Ernest. It would have pleased Grandfather to know that Margaux is a fine sportswoman—a downhill, cross-country, freestyle and water skier, a fly-fisherman, a bird hunter, a tennis player and a fencer.
"I always look for models who are athletic types," says Staff Writer Jule Campbell, who produced and stage-managed this issue's feature on Canc√∫n, a new resort in Yucatàn. "We want girls who don't mind being waterlogged and who look good without makeup, and Margaux is both. She is unusually at ease with the camera for a beginner, and she's a good sport. She water-skied for us even though someone had told her there were barracuda around. That was wrong—there were no barracuda—but she didn't know it."
The assignment in Yucatàn for SI was Margaux' second major modeling job. The first was a fashion feature for Town and Country that was shot at her grandfather's old house in Key West. More recently she has been photographed by Francesco Scavullo and Richard Avedon for Vogue. Her short, happy career has also included high schools in Hailey, Idaho, and Portland, Ore. ("I was into art and skipping classes"), a stint as chauffeur for Actor George C. Scott and his children in Los Angeles and a fling with a women's freestyle ski team in Sun Valley.
"I got a kick skiing free," she says of the last, "but while I was working out I got into helping with promotion and it was interesting. It was a business trip."
For an outdoor girl like Margaux, Manhattan is something of a challenge. "I have to exercise or I get guilty," she says, "so I run around the reservoir in Central Park and I go to an exercise class. I like New York, partly because I know I won't be here forever. You can't take the country out of me. I'm hooked."
Someday, she says, she would like to have a farm, "in Sicily or in the South of France." But in the meantime, between modeling jobs and laps around the reservoir, she is learning to sing. She compares it to skiing. "I'm a good skier. I get a rush from going fast, yet being in complete physical control. I get the same feeling singing."
Other than all that, she's just the kid next door.
MARGAUX HEMINGWAY: FINE AS WINE