15TH APRIL 1989
Supermodel (The face of Annie’s Magazine, February 2013)
Kyle comes from a family of lords, barristers and politicians; his family tree is peppered with British Prime Ministers and Aristocrats. He was born in London as the only child of a prominent lawyer and his socialite wife, so there was a burden on him to be great from the day he arrived. Everything about Kyle’s parents was presentable and sterile, their house was scrubbed top to bottom every day until the smell of disinfectant burned the throat (with hindsight, Kyle suspects a touch of OCD). He was hot-housed, every game his parents played with him was sneakily designed to increase his intelligence. If his parents caught him smashing his cars together on the floor, he was quickly steered towards flash cards or a book. Before he could walk, they already had Kyle’s life planned out for him: he was going to come top of his class in every subject, go to university and graduate with honours, and become a successful lawyer in time to take over his dad’s firm when he retired. But Kyle was more interested in playing outside, kicking a ball against the garage wall and pretending to be a soccer star.
The Chase’s decided not to send their son to kindergarten, because they could only imagine the messy horrors he’d be introduced to – finger-painting, sandboxes, mud pies. So being an only child was often lonely, for Kyle. But, as luck would have it, his parents’ best friends had daughters of around Kyle’s age and he latched on to them, adopting them as sisters; when another ‘sister’, Keegan, arrived, three-year-old Kyle was uncertain about the screaming pink bundle, but he soon came to love her. The Barnes’ girls were Kyle’s only real contact with other children, so when he was sent to an all-boys prep school he didn’t know anyone and felt totally lost.
For the first few weeks of school, Kyle kept himself to himself. It wasn’t until he met Tyler Croft that he started to come out of his shell. Tyler’s step-father played for Manchester United and Kyle thought him impossibly cool because of it. He asked Tyler at least a hundred times if he could come for dinner and meet his hero, but Tyler always made up excuses; when Tyler eventually confided that his step-father hit him, Kyle’s illusions were shattered and he solemnly took down all the posters of the soccer player from his bedroom walls.
As time went on, Kyle didn’t do as well in school as his parents had hoped – he hated sitting in classes and felt homework was a breach of his human rights – and it sparked arguments. They accused Kyle of throwing his life away, and Kyle shot back that it was his life to throw away. While he still loved his parents, life at home was tense while they all waited for the next report card and the ensuing argument, so he all but moved in to the Barnes’ spare room. The breathing space allowed Kyle to the things he had always wanted to but never been allowed; he joined the school soccer team and grew from a weedy kid into a broad, toned man.
Soccer practice took up a lot of Kyle’s time, and he and Tyler started to drift apart as he spend more time with his team-mates. His new friends – partly due to jealousy of Tyler’s famous step-father and partly to assert their dominance – teased Tyler mercilessly and Kyle felt that he had to join in or he would become their next target. He felt horribly about himself, but justified it with self-preservation. Being on the soccer team had certain perks; girls from their all-girl sister school threw themselves at him and he earned himself a reputation for ‘shagging and bagging’.
When he graduated, Kyle was at a loss. He applied for university and his parents hoped that he had outgrown his rebellious stage…but when a modelling scout approached him in a bar, he withdrew his college applications and packed his things for New York. He had something about him and, as he landed campaigns with Burberry and Armani, he became a heart-throb - a modern (British, blond) equivalent to James Dean. He was popular with girls while he was at school, and becoming famous certainly hasn’t done anything to hinder his romantic exploits. Since moving to New York, he’s reconciled with Tyler and spends much of his time hanging out in Keegan’s apartment, and with his parents still disappointed in him - “models come with a shelf life, Kyle” - it’s almost as though he never left England.
Kyle is confident to the point of being obnoxious, but he’s not completely unlikable; he’s got a sharp wit and an insatiable thirst for adventure. And he’s persistent, determined to see himself in the cover of Annie’s.
Tyler Croft (best friend)
Keegan Barnes (best friend)
Sylvain Delacroix (friend)
Cassie Neil (ex-girlfriend)