Communist Memes and Cooking: Video-Calling with Model Hayett McCarthy

Hayett McCarthy

In the first of a new series, AnOther gets to know the personalities behind the faces of the modelling industry

23-year-old Hayett McCarthy has been modelling for three years, since she was scouted in a pub in London’s Crouch End. Born and raised in France, she now lives in upstate New York where she indulges her passions for complicated cooking, painting and eclectic home decoration. She has been the face of Burberry and walked for Hermés, Louis Vuitton and Jil Sander, to name but a few. Here, in the first of our Not AnOther Go-See series, we speak with McCarthy via video call to find out more about her outlook on life – and how to best to grill escarole lettuce. 

What’s your name?
Hayett Belarbi-McCarthy.

What's your star sign?
A Gemini; I’m dangerous.

What makes you laugh? 
Sometimes when I feel a bit down I look at Communist memes and they just make my day. 

What makes you cry?
When I’m upset I try not to dwell on it. But every now and then when a song related to heroin comes on that makes me sad – some sort of Neil Young song or something – I feel really sad. I lost a friend because of that, so every now and then it really gets to me. 

Favourite scent?
I make my own scents. When I was younger I wanted to be a nose, but then found out you can’t smoke, you can’t drink or do anything fun, basically. My favourite scent at the minute is anything based around patchouli. It’s woody and has an old soul smell. I like it when that mixes with more feminine sweet fragrances. It really embodies my androgyny.

Favourite word?
Cocoon! 

What was the last thing you bought? 
The last thing I bought was escarole, which is a kind of lettuce that is really sour. I love to cook and I spend about three hours cooking each day – it’s my passion – and I didn’t really know what to do with it. I hate looking at recipes or recipe books because I think that’s cheating. But I had to look this up, and it said you could cook this lettuce. So I decided to char it with rock salt and glaze it with a bourbon maple syrup and it tasted so good. 

Who should we follow on Instagram?
DJ Fat Tony, hands down. 

An item of clothing that you couldn’t be without?
Hawaiian shirts. My style is so varied; sometimes I dress as a raver, sometimes a flamenco dancer, and sometimes I wear suits. But at the moment it’s all about Hawaiian shirts because it’s just so hot and humid. I love wearing them with loafers. 

One good piece of advice that you’ve been given?
‘If somebody or something upsets you, count to ten and tell them to fuck off!’ My dad taught me that. He grew up in London and he was a proper punk in the 70s and 80s. He’s still my dad but there are a lot of things about him that are very immature. He gets really misanthropic! But don’t get me wrong, I love people – I am totally my own person despite my upbringing.

One song you can never get out of your head? 
My favourite song ever is You Set the Scene by Love. I’ve got ‘Forever Changes’ tattooed on me, which is the name of one of their albums. It’s a psychedelic 60s album that has influenced so many artists. Some people say it’s dark and some people say it’s really jovial and bucolic. It’s a great dichotomy – and that’s what life is, it’s not black and white. 

What’s the best thing about being a model?
Travelling! When I travel I get to buy all my favourite foods, my olive oils, my cooking products. I feel like Marco Polo. When I get home I love to make dinner at mine and invite friends over – I love to give back.

One show you have walked that you wish you could walk again?
I remember during a Kenzo show I walked the totally wrong way – I definitely wanted to do that again!

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? 
Moving to upstate New York. Hudson’s amazing but I don’t know anyone here. It was also a risk because my agency is in the big city, and I need to be prepared in case a last minute job comes up. But it’s all worth it because I’ve got more headspace up here. 

What is the best thing about the age that we live in? 
I’m very divided about this, but I love that you can learn so quickly now. If you wanted to make a papier-mâché flip-flop, or something completely random, you can do it at the touch of a button. But, I actively choose not to fact-check things on Google if I’m having a conversation. I also like that I can speak to my friends and family any time regardless of the distance.

What does the future hold for you?
I’m very pragmatic. In order to stay happy, I try not to set too many crazy ambitions and goals for myself because I’m scared of disappointment. So I aim a bit lower so I can always reach my goals. So right now – as in today – I want to cook something really elaborate with the ingredients I got at the farmer’s market and later I’ll maybe paint something. But I don’t like looking too far into the future, or at the big picture, because you just get carried away.

With thanks to IMG Models

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