Strutting her stuff

Chronicle Staff

 Hilfiger. Lily Collins ’07 saw the name printed on a folder and realized that the man who had walked into the first-class cabin on a flight from New York to Los Angeles last May with his daughter was fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, whom she had met several years earlier through her father, singer Phil Collins.

She decided to reintroduce herself.

Hilfiger remembered her. The designer turned to Collins and asked her what she was doing the next night.

“Nothing,” Collins said, stunned.

“You’re going to be in my show,” Hilfiger said.

Before the plane took off, Collins had made a fitting appointment with Hilfiger’s stylist for the next afternoon after she got out of school.

“I was literally beaming,” she said. “I was smiling the whole plane ride home.”

Collins appeared in Hilfiger’s show several hours after the fitting and 24 hours after meeting Hilfiger.

Besides modeling at the Cyrus & Sonny fashion show for Sonny Bjornson ’06 last year, Collins was completely new to the modeling industry.

After the show, Hilfiger remained in contact with Collins. In early June, he called and told her that he had good news.

“Next Models wants you,” he said.

Next is one of the largest modeling agencies in the world, and Collins was elated.

She signed with the agency later that day.

After a one day runway class, she was ready to work.

Her first job as a signed model was a photo shoot for Abercrombie & Fitch.

She spent part of her summer taking pictures for her book, a thick black portfolio filled with pictures of her modeling.

To book a job, Collins must present the would-be employers with the book and show how she photographs. The quality of photos in a model’s book is crucial to her success.

Last week, Collins booked her first major runway job for Los Angeles based designer Yana K. Not only is it her first runway show since her first job for Tommy Hilfiger, she will be modeling as part of the Los Angeles fashion week.

Collins checks her new graphite Blackberry several times a day at school for e-mails from the agency. Oftentimes, the agency will send her information about a particular shoot or event and expect her to be there after school.

Collins keeps a bag with heels and her book in the back of her car so that she is always prepared.

When Collins gets word from the agency, she has time to write back a quick “yes” or “no” before she goes to the shoot.

Photoshoots can take more than nine hours, 50 outfit changes and require her to miss an entire day of school.

Collins is new to the modeling world and still goes to every shoot with the air of a novice.

“Yeah it’s a job, but I don’t feel pressure like I can’t have fun,” she said.

“I always hang out with the crew. I consider myself part of the team, I just happen to have my face in front of the camera.”

Modeling insiders describe Collins as “doll-like” and she does have the soft-spoken politeness of a doll come to life.

But Collins’ goal is not to become the next Cindy Crawford. She wants to be an actress and had been going to acting auditions long before she started modeling.

“If I caught on, I would love to be a supermodel,” she said.

“I don’t think anyone wouldn’t want to go further, but there are other things I want to do. My main goal is not to become the next big supermodel, if it happens though, that would be great.”

Three weeks ago, Collins attended the Teen Vogue Young Hollywood party at a West Hollywood hotel.

She posed on the red carpet and shared small talk with the assembled actors, models, agents and entertainers on the hotel’s art-deco terrace.

“It’s always fun and you won’t get anyone to say it isn’t,” she said.

“It’s nice to be invited to these things as Lily and not as Phil Collins’ daugher.”