Her Model Behavior Brings a Big Payoff

Hilary Rhoda
Hilary Rhoda has gone from hockey fields to fashion runways. She's now the new face of Estee Lauder. ((Left) Academy of The Holy Cross; (Right) Craig McDean -- Estee Lauder)
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, February 1, 2007

America's next top model? Forget the TV show -- the real winner is Chevy Chase's Hilary Rhoda, a 19-year-old who just landed a multimillion-dollar contract as the new face of Estee Lauder cosmetics. "It's pretty amazing," she told us yesterday from a photo shoot in Asia. "I was so thrilled."

The 5-11 blue-eyed brunette has great genes and even greater timing. Rhoda was a sophomore at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington when she and her mom happened to hear one of those "be a model" commercials on the car radio. Marianne Rhoda said they should drop by the cattle call at the Hilton Washington, but the teenager wasn't interested: "Don't even think about it." Mom prevailed, agents swooned, and soon the lacrosse and field hockey star was modeling during school breaks -- and loving it.

After graduating in 2005, she postponed college and headed to N.Y.C. to pursue modeling full time (with Mom as manager). She got her big break weeks later, when Balenciaga's Nicolas Ghesquiere selected her to appear in his Paris runway show. Pretty soon, the Brooke Shields look-alike (those oh-so-'80s dark eyebrows!) was on every runway and cover and in every fashion spread, standing out from those sassy Brazilians and wan Eastern Europeans who dominate the biz.

Last week, Rhoda achieved the rank of supermodel when the cosmetics giant announced she will star in ads beginning this summer. "There's something very sophisticated about the dark hair and blue eyes," said a company spokeswoman. Another plus: Rhoda isn't super-skinny (a size 4/6, practically robust in the modeling world), and represents Lauder's "healthy and athletic" ideal.

Alas, her "crazy schedule" means she probably won't be in Washington anytime soon. And no boyfriend (too busy), but she has a group of friends who still treat her as they did in high school. Now that she's hit the big time, do they make her buy the drinks?

"I'm too young to drink," she reminded us.


  • Geraldine Ferraro is heading back to D.C. -- or at least she'll be spending more time here -- as a new principal with Blank Rome Government Relations, the lobbying firm announced yesterday. The 1984 vice presidential candidate, who had been working for Global Consulting Group in N.Y.C., adds a bit of Democratic flava to a firm known for its GOP ties; she also returns to town just in time for the latest round of "Is the nation ready to elect a woman?" interviews.
  • Fresh out of rehab, Miss USA Tara Conner is doing interviews this week with People and NBC's "Today" admitting that she dabbled in cocaine -- thus stealing the spotlight, as usual, from the newly crowned, squeaky-clean Miss America. Nicely played, Mr. Trump.
  • HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

  • "L.A. Law" vet Harry Hamlin, lingering in town after his "Dancing With the Stars" tour stop at Verizon Center -- lunching Monday at Old Ebbitt Grill (brown leather jacket, gracious eye contact, no autograph seekers) and browsing the Chinatown Starbucks with a CVS bag that night.
  • Dan Rather, lunching Tuesday at Bistro Bis, while doing interviews for his HDNet news show, which premieres . . . oh, two months ago. (Sorry -- don't have high-def!)
  • Stevie Wonder, dining with family (his wife is from here) at Oceanaire last weekend. Had a private room, but when he walked out to the men's room, the entire restaurant burst into applause. That's gotta get old after a while.

    "Short of letting everybody have a feel, I don't know what else to do. . . . I really am pretty happy with what God gave me."

    -- Jennifer Aniston, on People.com, denying recent tabloid speculation that she got new breasts to go along with her new nose (which she says was to correct earlier surgery on a deviated septum).

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