25 in 2009: Lydia Hearst

Born: 09/19/84 In: Wilton, CT Is: Model

Discovered in a Manhattan hair salon by Eileen Ford five years ago, Lydia Hearst has had a meteoric rise in the modeling world. The 5'7" beauty's first shoot was with Steven Meisel, which landed her on the cover of Italian Vogue. "It was like winning the Oscar," Hearst gushes. "It was incredible and an amazing honor. Steven has gotten to be one of my closest friends. He taught me everything I know about fashion and [how] to discover myself and be comfortable in front of the camera. I owe my entire career to him."

Meisel might have made Hearst an overnight style star but her ethereal, huge green eyes and sexy body have made her a constantly booked model. "I've had the opportunity to work with almost, if not all, the best and most legendary photographers. I have so many stories. But I've been very fortunate in that I've never had a scary or horror story that people always talk about. I've become friends with all the people I work with." Last May, Hearst posed topless for the cover of GQ Italia, shot by Richard Kern, best known for his sexually charged photographs of alternative-looking women.

Hearst says her parents, Patricia Hearst-Shaw (who became famous when kidnapped in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army, then served close to two years in prison for "joining" their movement, before having her sentence commuted by Jimmy Carter) and Bernard Shaw (her mother's former bodyguard, now head of security for the Hearst Corporation), instilled in her a strong work ethic. "I've never been late to a shoot," she claims. "I love what I do. It's not a hobby. It's a career." And speaking of careers, Hearst had a cameo in the season-one finale of Gossip Girl and starred as a paparazzi-stalked starlet in a short film directed by Tara Subkoff for the fashion line Bebe. Most recently she played Stella, a seductress in the independent film The Last International Playboy. "Growing up, I always wanted to be in the entertainment industry," she says. "I'd love to be like Milla Jovovich in the sense that she's so highly respected as a model and an actress and she's a full-time mother and has her own fashion line. There is really no one way to label her."

Born and raised with older sister Gillian in Wilton, Connecticut, Hearst is the great-granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. As a child, she prized her Bob Mackie Goddess of the Sun Barbie, and still has it with the box intact. Her icons were Kate Moss and Twiggy, with whom she shares the same birthday. "Kate Moss was legendary, because she's 5'6" and so petite in every way possible. She gave me hope that I could do that, too."

Hearst, a health freak by her own admission, works out with celebrity trainer David Kirsch when she's in town, which is not that often as she is "on a plane at least two times a week." Though she's been labeled a socialite, Hearst prefers to stay home and make art in mediums like charcoal, ink and spray paint with cutout letters she puts together on canvas, "like the letters they had in the movie Serial Mom, which my mother was in." And despite her city dwelling, Hearst says she's "much more of a country girl. I love anything outside -- hiking, camping, fishing." She recently went scuba diving with her boyfriend in the Bahamas and hiking through the redwood forests in Northern California and when she travels, she shoots nature photographs. "Who knows? Maybe one day I'll be a National Geographic photographer." Hearst lets her mind wander with a smile. "I have no idea where I'll end up in five or ten years."
Peter Davis

Wears: a dress by Marc Bouwer, shoes by Christian Louboutin, and bracelet by Tom Binns

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