Maren Morris’ look is one that’s ever-changing, a quality of hers she attributes to being the daughter of hairdressers who own a salon in her home state of Texas, she admits to Billboard Style. “I’ve always changed up my look and hair, but style-wise, too. I don’t like to look typical,” the 27-year-old says. Now, she believes this very fact is what helped her catch the eye of famed modeling agency, Wilhelmina.
Morris has had an exciting past few months, to say the least. She got engaged to fellow country singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd, received her first-ever American Music Award nomination, and was recently signed to the largest and only publicly traded modeling agency. “They were just really refreshed by my sense of style. I look different from the other girls that I’m on carpets with a lot, and I think they saw something unique in me,” the “I Could Use a Love Song” crooner expresses. She joins the 50-year-old company’s celebrity roster alongside Nicki Minaj, Shawn Mendes, MGK, Leona Lewis and Kacy Hill.
The Texas-bred songstress is set to perform at the Country Music Awards on Nov. 8 alongside Niall Horan to debut their hit, “Seeing Blind,” and will also join the former One Direction member for a lengthy North American tour kicking off next summer (July 2018).
We caught up with Morris to talk everything from her new modeling contract to her dreams of bridging the gap between the high fashion industry and country artists.
You dedicated your new song “Dear Hate” to Vegas victims. As an artist with a platform, do you feel a responsibility to speak out during tragic times?
No. I definitely think just emotionally as a human, I have the right to react to horrible events, but I think particularly with the Vegas shooting it hit so close to home. We had played those previous nights, and as an artist it was a wakeup call because it could have easily been the night we played. It rattled a lot of us I think.
How would you describe your everyday style?
Definitely casual. If I’m at home or on the road before a show, I’m usually in yoga clothes. But I feel like if I’m going out and it’s not a show — because I obviously have a very particular show style — like dressed up to go out on a date with my fiancé or friends, I like to keep it casual with a little bit of rocker. My style is not very girly girl at all, I never have been. Even as a kid I always used to shy away from that and wanted to be a tomboy. I love ripped jeans with a leather jacket. I’ve never been a huge exerciser, but now I’ve gotten so into yoga the last year and a half and I’m so proud of my body, so I like to show off things that accentuate it. I’m also very petite and short (5’1”), so I like to wear things that elongate my figure. High-waisted pants and crop tops, that’s my go-to for stage wear. But I keep it pretty simple if I’m going out.
My passion has always been accessories. I love big hoop earrings, statement necklaces, stacking rings and bangles, lariats if i’m wearing something deep-plunging. I think jewelry is the statement if I’m putting an outfit together myself, because that’s where my strength is — accessories, not so much the clothes. It’s just different every day, you can wear a black T-shirt and black jeans and then change up the mood so simply with really delicate jewelry or a statement piece.
Did you have any modeling experience prior to your contract with Wilhelmina?
Oh hell no, I did not have any previous experience [Laughs]. I have always been and will always be a songwriter and an artist. I think over the last few years, I’ve really come into my own. I’ve always changed up my look and hair; being the daughter of a hairdresser has always made me feel really fearless with my hair, but style-wise too, I don’t like to look typical. I like to change it up a lot; I get bored wearing the same thing over and over.
I never get set in a certain way, and I think that’s something that Wilhelmina noticed from the get-go when they wanted to talk about signing me, and they were just really refreshed by my sense of style. I look different from the other girls that I’m on carpets with a lot and I think they saw something unique in me, so it was very cool to be approached by them.
Your fiancé Ryan Hurd is signed to Wilhelmina as well, so congrats to both of you! The agency is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year which is a huge milestone for them, so how does it feel to be joining the team during this particular time?
Well it’s obviously so exciting for them, and they represent so many different types of models which I think is really refreshing. Especially as someone who is petite with short, brunette hair. I just don’t look like the typical country sweetie, and I’ve never claimed to be. If you listen to my album, that’s not the MO at all. To be a part of this company especially during this time is really exciting, and their artist division is so diverse; they have Nicki Minaj and Shawn Mendes and Noah Cyrus. The people that they sign are very unique and nobody looks the same, so I think that’s something they have going for them.
Now that you’re also considered a “model,” can we expect you to be getting deeper involved with fashion? Do you have any interest in designing or brand partnerships?
The book is wide open right now; the possibilities are endless. We’ve been brainstorming so many ideas. Being the daughter of parents who own a salon, I think in my mind a dream has always been to create my own hair line just because I change my hair so much. Someday, not in the near future, but I would love to really collaborate and make some sort of line for men and women that’s very androgynous-looking, and that works and is all natural and good for the environment. I’ve just always sort of had that on a mood board somewhere.
It’s also baffling to me that the country genre has never really collaborated with the high fashion industry. And that’s why I’m so excited to be a part of the Wilhelmina family, because you see artists, and even like myself, wearing high-end designers on the red carpet, but I wanna dive even deeper. I get so excited about newer designers, I’m just a huge fan [of fashion] and I study that. I love Vogue. I love doing my homework and educating myself — what I look good in, what my fiancé looks good in, I’ve just been really inspired by that whole side of the industry the last few years having to do it as an artist myself in the beginning, but now I’ve really grown to be passionate about it. I wanna bridge that gap and have more designers dressing country artists when we go to awards shows, and more country artists being in the crowds at the fashion shows, and doing collaborations with designers, and spotlighting new designers. I think there’s so much opportunity there that hasn’t been explored before. So I’m really excited to kick it off, and with Ryan being signed to them as well, it’s just a really exciting time. To be the first country artist signed to their agency is a really big honor.
How’s wedding planning going? Is there anything we can expect from the occasion?
We’re still in the thick of planning. The biggest part that everyone’s warned me about is finalizing your guest list. That has been hard, but we finally finished it last week. Taking our sweet ass time, I guess. We’re aiming for spring and I think we want to do it in Nashville, so it’s going to be a party for sure [Laughs].
What’s next for Maren? Any projects are you currently working on?
I’m in the midst of writing for album two, and I’m just knee-deep in the creative right now amidst all this other chaos. We’re going to the UK next week to finish out my tour over there and then I come home for the holidays and then really start rounding out the record and songs. So I’ll be taking a lot of Los Angeles trips to write, and circling back around with all my favorite writers in Nashville and just making sure there’s no stone left unturned as far as material goes. I’m doing that for the next few months and i’m very excited. And then yea, I’ve gotta get married!