Kendall Jenner Opens Up to Lana Del Rey
“I’m super chilled-out right now,” Kendall Jenner says with a skater-dude lilt. That’s because for her first-ever ELLE cover story, the 22-year-old model asked that she not talk with just anyone. She wanted it to be someone she knew and was comfortable with. Someone with whom she shared a love of good music and classic cars. Enter Lana Del Rey, the pop star, fashion darling, and friend of House Kardashian.
The two are chatting on the phone—Jenner in her house in L.A., and Del Rey in Brazil, in between tour gigs—discussing their mental health. Jenner’s struggles with anxiety were a central topic on the last season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and Del Rey, for one, gets it. “I haven’t spoken that much about my anxiety over the years,” the singer, 32, tells Jenner. “But one of the cool things that’s come up is the focus on self-care. I do meditations for joy and happiness and try not to spread myself too thin.” Jenner welcomes the advice. “It’s interesting; ever since I said something about being anxious, a lot of people in the spotlight have come to me, being like, ‘Oh my God, me too!’ There’s this community. I take what they do to help themselves and piece it together to find what helps me.”
Jenner has started practicing Transcendental Meditation and winds down at night with light Netflix fare. “When I’m about to fall asleep, I’ll put on Trailer Park Boys,” she says. “I love it; it’s so stupid.” She mentions that a friend has a healer who “just hangs out at the house for good energy. I got such an amazing vibe from him. I was like, You need to be around me.
Jenner met Del Rey four years ago on the occasion of the Kardashian-West rehearsal dinner at the Palace of Versailles. Yes, that Versailles, where Kanye West had arranged a surprise performance from the “Young and Beautiful” singer as a gift to his bride-to-be. Jenner betrays her inner fangirl in recalling their first encounter: “I was like, ‘Oh my God, she’s so awesome and, like, magical in person.” She adds, somewhat embarrassed, “You were probably like, She’s just a little girl.” Del Rey assures her that, no, she didn’t think that, but agrees that the night was completely surreal. “I couldn’t believe I was singing for everybody in the middle of a palace,” she says. Del Rey changed her set list at the last minute to include a special song request—she thinks it was “Blue Jeans”—from Kendall. Or was it Kylie? The details are lost on them now, but “I was like, Oh shit, okay, I’ll throw that in the mix,” Del Rey says.
The singer and now supermodel became friendly when they kept seeing each other at various concerts, fashion events, and festivals, including Coachella. Del Rey is bummed to miss the marathon music fest this year. She’ll still be touring abroad. “You’re going to have to live it up for both of us!” she commands. “I’ll send pics,” Jenner promises.
For two kindred spirits, a Del Rey/Jenner collaboration seems only natural. Could a music video be on the horizon? “I don’t think that’s up to me!” Jenner says, laughing. Del Rey says it’s most likely. “I’m sure we’ll do something at some point. It might not even be a video. We have so many mutual friends. It could be something avant-garde, like a little art project.” Jenner points out that this conversation counts as something. A phone call these days is, after all, an anomaly. Who talks when you can text? For Jenner, it’s a peaceful moment away from the steady deluge of Kardashian chatter. “I could not check my phone for two minutes, and there are, like, 100 text messages. The majority of the time, my family group chat is on sleep mode. I can’t have it on vibrate.” She won’t opt out entirely because, well, family, but also because the text chain is one of her go-to sources for info. “It gives me my daily dose of news sometimes. Like, just this morning, it was announced that Virgil [Abloh] is now the designer for men’s Louis Vuitton. I got that from my family group chat. Virgil’s been a homie for forever.”
Del Rey, who has one brother and sister, envies how cohesive Jenner’s family is. So many adult siblings hardly communicate. “I think that’s one of the reasons people love following what you do and seeing the family grow—it’s kind of unusual,” Del Rey says. “It’s forever growing….” Jenner mutters knowingly: “Every time I think it’s eased up, someone’s popping out a baby.”
The most recent addition, as of press time, was Kylie Jenner’s daughter, Stormi. The 20-year-old only confirmed her rumored pregnancy after the birth of the baby last February. The elder Jenner admits that it took her a minute to process the news. “It’s obviously a bit weird that your little sister is having a baby before you. I didn’t expect it to happen like this. But it’s beautiful.” She says that motherhood has softened Kylie. “It’s brought us closer together. We’ve always been very close, but we would butt heads all the time. This has made her a bit more loving toward me.”
One of the sisters’ old arguments, since settled, was over Kendall’s friendship with model Hailey Baldwin. “She was actually best friends with Kylie, and I was good friends with her cousin Ireland [Alec Baldwin’s daughter]. Hailey lived in New York, and whenever we were there, we would hang out with her.” During Kendall’s first New York Fashion Week, she says she “stole Hailey from Kylie. From then on, she was my homie. At first, Kylie was mad; I had to bring them back together and be like, ‘No, it’s okay, guys.’ But it’s all good; that’s our love story.”
On the topic of actual romantic love, Jenner is less forthcoming. She and Del Rey have both been linked to musicians—in Jenner’s corner: Harry Styles and A$AP Rocky; and in Del Rey’s: G-Eazy and Scottish singer Barrie-James O’Neill. They choose their words carefully in discussing their relationships with artists. “Half the people who get into music, that’s their version of being seen, so you’ve got a lot of narcissistic people,” Del Rey warns. “I consider myself lucky,” Jenner says. “I’ve never had too bad of an experience. It’s really cool to see someone immerse themselves into something so deeply. And, I don’t know, the majority of my core friend group is all very creative. I look at them, and I’m like, I wish I could be more like you and blurt out my feelings on a piece of paper and make it into a song.”
But Jenner is more reserved. Especially on social media, where neither she nor Del Rey is inclined to post every second of every day. For Del Rey, Instagram and Twitter are great for sharing professional news, but on a personal level, she says she’s too much of a work in progress to offer her life up for constant public consumption. “I’ve been doing more Instagram stories, but I give only as much as I’m willing to because I’m still figuring a lot out myself,” she says. It’s safe to assume Jenner is often obligated to share sponsored posts with her 89.2 million Instagram followers. Otherwise, she relishes the control social media affords her. “It’s nice to be able to say, Do I wanna share this? Usually in my life, I don’t really get a choice, especially with paparazzi.” And she can’t stand hanging out with people who are paying more attention to their phones than to the world around them. “It’s an addiction. I’ll be at dinner with my good friends, and I’ll look at someone on their phone. They’re not texting someone, which I could accept. Maybe they’re talking about something important, or figuring out an email? No, they’re on Instagram and Twitter. It really does irk me. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, you don’t need to see what everyone else is doing! It’s not like you’re sitting in bed right now.’ I strive to not be that person—to not live my life on my phone.” She avoids looking at comments on her feed entirely, which, she says, is actually easy. “A couple of years ago, someone started using Kylie’s and my pages as a way to promote themselves. At first, I was annoyed by it, but now I feel like it’s a blessing—it’s trained me to not look at my comments, ever.”
Actively avoiding the incessant noise around her—be it from relatives or total strangers—is perhaps how Jenner maintains her sense of calm. “My friends are always like, Dude, you’re so much more chill and normal than anyone would ever think.” But Del Rey credits Jenner’s mom, Kris. “She’s just a badass. Because you’re on TV, people probably think you’re not grounded. But [Kris] raised you guys in a way that even when you became a big focal point, it was still about being yourselves and getting your lives straight.” Jenner agrees that her upbringing—even on TV—has kept her humble. “I’ve met my fair share of people that I’m like, ‘Damn! You’ve been eaten up by all of this [fame].’ I don’t ever think of myself as someone more special than any other Joe walking down the street.” One of the best compliments Jenner’s ever gotten came from a friend who told her, “‘You’re the best at hiding in plain sight.’ I was like, ‘Awesome, that’s all I want.’” Del Rey laughs and gives her a hat tip: “Yeah, that’s a talent. That’s what the real G’s do.”