Pyper America Smith is The Mormon Model You Need to Know

“I believe in Christ as my savior and God” isn’t the kind of thing you’d typically hear from a model, but Smith isn’t exactly typical. Raised in Utah, she grew up a devout Mormon. She doesn’t drink alcohol or coffee. She doesn’t smoke. And “at a recent shoot, they asked me to do a nude shot—I turned that down,” she says. “But I don’t think I’m missing out.”

“Missing out” is maybe the only thing Smith is not doing. She has sailed down runways for Giorgio Armani and Moschino. She has been in ad campaigns for Gap and Calvin Klein Jeans. And she’s in a band. “My sisters, brother, and I got instruments for Christmas ten years ago,” she says. “I play bass.” It’s an impressive body of work for anyone, let alone someone who’s 18. When Smith and her younger brother, Lucky Blue (yes, these are real names), decided to pursue modeling, the Smith family packed up and moved to Los Angeles. Fame first came to Lucky Blue, who has the same ethereal pale complexion, stark white hair, and light-blue eyes as his sister. Imagine the best-looking family of aliens you’ve ever seen and you’ll get an idea of the gene pool we’re dealing with. If the continental divide between a small, pious community and the modeling world ever freaked her out, Smith took it in stride. “When I say I’m from Utah, the next question is, ‘Are you a Mormon?’ ” says Smith. “They’ll say, ‘I heard you guys believe you get taken by a spaceship when the world ends.’ ” (For the record, she doesn’t.) “Sometimes in the modeling world, I can be so focused on how I look,” says Smith. “I don’t think that matters. It just matters how you treat people and how you progress as a person. Having grown up Mormon helps me stay grounded.” But don’t get her wrong—she’s happy modeling, too: “This job’s the best!”

Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier