Model Inc.

updated 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

OKAY, SO SHE'S VOGUED ON THE cover of Vogue—and Elle, Mademoiselle and Cosmopolitan, to name a few. At 16, Bridget Hall can still be a tongue-tied adolescent. Lounging in her modest, one-bedroom Manhattan apartment on an overcast fall afternoon—and looking more overgrown tomboy than glamor girl in her blue jeans and Cheap Jack's flannel shirt—Hall is searching for the words to describe her va-voom appeal. "They say I am bringing in the woman look," she stammers, "because I am...you know...." "Voluptuous," chimes in her roommate and mother, Donna, 49. "Yeah," mumbles Bridget, between nods.

On the catwalk and on-camera, though, Hall speaks volumes. Her curvy 5'10", 119-lb. figure and her signature smirk of a smile (which cannot hide the wonderful imperfection of a crooked tooth) have quickly transformed the Lone Star transplant into modeling's latest $10,000-a-day superstar. In addition to all those magazine covers, Hall's face has graced a slew of ads ranging from Chanel to Banana Republic and Benetton; she is also chairperson of her own corporation, Bridget Hall Inc. (Donna is president and brother Josh, 19, who plans to be a police officer or a pilot, is vice president) and recently landed a reportedly $2 million contract to model for Ralph Lauren. "She's a miracle—one moment she's yawning and looking so bored, but when you start shooting she gives the greatest expressions," says veteran photographer Francesco Scavullo of Hall, who as part of her deal with Lauren strutted down his runway at last week's spring fashion shows in Manhattan. "It's just my same normal life," she says, "but now I get to go to movie premieres and to parties."

A-list parties, that is. Hall has been keeping company with high-profile pals like Kate Moss and actor Leonardo di Caprio—who, she insists, is just a friend. "You are seen at a party with a guy and everyone's like, 'They are dating,' " Hall laments. As for her frequent late-night outings at nightclubs and restaurants, Hall insists that reports of her bad-girl behavior have been greatly exaggerated since last year, when she moved into the New York City town house of modeling titans Eileen and Jerry Ford, only to move out three months later after violating the nightly curfew. "She didn't want to live by my rules, but I'm still crazy about her," says Eileen Ford. So last spring, Donna put her career as an interior designer in Farmers Branch, Texas, on hold and took up residence with her daughter. "Girls will be girls," Donna explains, "but Bridget knows to never go out when she has to work in the morning."

Hall began work at age 9, after Donna (who divorced her husband, Roger, when Bridget was a year old) took her daughter to a Dallas modeling agency; three days later the lanky, freckle-faced tomboy was donning clothes for the J.C. Penney catalog. When, at 13, the 5'8" Hall became too tall to model children's wear, Donna found a solution: She hired a makeup artist, hairstylist and photographer to take very mature shots of her daughter—including one in a bikini and mesh cover-up. "It was not risqué by any means," says Donna. "I don't want her to look cheesy or cheap." The pictures were sensational, and as they hit agencies in New York City and L.A. a bidding war began. Hall, who was simply befuddled by all the attention, happily signed on with Ford. "I would look in the mirror and say, 'Why me?' " she says. "Girls in my school were always prettier."

Spending the summer of '92 modeling in Milan, Hall returned to Farmers Branch to begin her freshman year of high school. But six weeks into the semester, Ford asked Hall if she would go to Paris to work. "It didn't take long to decide at all," says Hall, who promptly dropped out. Donna didn't protest the fact that her daughter left school. "People are always asking, 'How can I do this to her?' " she says, adding that Hall may take courses at Pepperdine University if they move as planned to Malibu. "But Bridget has the world at her doorstep."

In some ways Hall is still a typical teen. Known to chow down on canned chili and McDonald's burgers, she recently turned down a major job so she could go to an Eagles concert with her brother. "I nearly died of a heart attack," laughs Donna. "I saw so many zeroes flying out the window." But Hall, who one day wants to be an actress like her idol Jodie Foster, seems to be pulling in more zeroes than she can spend. Shopping around for bigger digs in New York City and a new home in L.A., she saves more than she splurges on, treating herself only to minor purchases like a Sony Discman and a Sega videogame system. That frugality is due in part to Hall's ability to put it all in perspective. "When I go out with my 16-year-old friends," she says, "I don't wear Chanel."

JANICE MIN
BRYAN ALEXANDER in New York City

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