Her hair is very short, slicked back like some Latin lover in a ’20s movie. Her dark, heavily lidded eyes and ovalesque Modigliani face conjure up restful, serene images. But drape her 5’10” reedy frame in a designer dress, send her down a fashion runway, and watch 22-year-old Billie Blair go “on the wild.”
She uses that expression to describe the dancelike strut that characterizes her modeling. That walk, together with her very dark skin and haughty carriage, have made her New York’s newest superstar model—this season’s standard of female beauty. She now commands $400 a day, gets offers from magazines as diverse as Mademoiselle and Ebony, and is a regular “star” in the shows of such designers as Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Scott Barrie and Clovis Ruffin.
Not bad for a girl with size 9 feet, strong features and a figure she says resembles “a burnt match stump.” When she launched herself in New York a year and a half ago her head was completely bald—she had shaved it to look like an Egyptian for a jewelry modeling job. She let her hair grow in—to the 1/16 of an inch length she calls her “mini-Afro”—and landed a job as a showroom girl at Halston’s. “She is more like a starlet than a mannequin,” coos her first employer approvingly. “I love her walk, her fantastic body, her dramatic delivery.”
For a former nursing student from Flint, Mich., “things have worked out so beautifully,” she says in amazement. “A year ago I was doing such outdoorsy things as horseback riding and fishing—just sitting on a bank with an old pole.” Today she’s making the New York scene with gusto—dancing all night with fashion cronies at such places to be seen as Le Jardin and the Loft. When she wants to go on the quiet, that’s easy too: “I put on my jeans, listen to soft soul sounds and just daydream about having one boyfriend. That’s the only thing I haven’t found in New York yet.”