So, I can’t tell a lie: This cover subject feels a bit like a punt to me, as if they had a hole in their calendar to fill. Other than the fact that Hailey Bieber’s husband Justin released new music right as this cover art was released, and I guess now she has a YouTube channel on which she once made some food with the Jenners, it doesn’t seem like enough NEW is going on here? I mean, Cynthia Erivo, starring in Nat Geo’s new Genius season as Aretha Franklin, is RIGHT THERE for the choosing, and that’s just the name that jumped to mind first. Emerald Fennell was the second. (Side note: After this weekend’s speech in Pittsburgh, they had better get Sandra Oh on deck. SOMEONE should.)
Anyway: Back in March 2020, one of the last issues of The Before Times, Hailey appeared on Elle with the tagline “The Secret Life of Mrs. Bieber,” which seemed to reduce her to his accessory; to Elle’s credit, it does not pin the piece to Justin’s music, or even mention it at all, though I have a hard time imagining the timing is coincidental. But there isn’t much there there, either. She’s worked a bunch. They have $35,000 cats that are a cross between house cats and wild African serval, which… does not seem like a great idea? (But also they are not themselves new, either; they are mentioned in passing in the 2020 story.) There’s a tangent about how the skin on her finger is thin, and so her J tattoo faded, and then a quick mention of a small gun tattoo that she regrets (but hasn’t gotten removed?). We learn right off the top what she’s wearing, and whether it involves makeup (unclear). Their marriage is fine. And that’s about it. I’m not a big fan of the story itself, to be frank; the writer seems a bit pleased with his own observations at times, and fixated on whether Justin’s presence makes Hailey glow. Here, he surmises she is talking to him off-camera:
For a few brief moments, this Zoom call, this interview, this reporter…all of it disappears, and she is visibly transported to another place, a very happy place from the looks of it—she appears rapt, delighted, lit from within. They say a model’s ability to convey her beauty has to do with the thoughts she’s able to project. It makes me wonder, looking through her photos on the internet, if it’s Justin she’s thinking about when the camera clicks. Can’t a woman have a muse?
I mean… yes? No one has said a woman can’t have a muse, have they? Is that a thing? Why are you making it a thing? Also, this paragraph discordant when laid next to the photos, because in all of these, she projects morose detachment. Sullen indifference. Ennui. If Justin is her muse, then he may want to check in with her.
[Photos: Mario Sorrenti for Elle; the April 2021 issue of Elle is available on newsstands and digitally on April 6]