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The Niki Six

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In the modeling equivalent of landing the covers of Newsweek and Time in the same week, supermodel Niki Taylor, 21, locked up the May issues of Allure, Elle, Marie Claire, Self, and Vogue and raised some well-plucked eyebrows. ”It was a surprise. I would have preferred that she be on one cover — and that was ours,” says Allure editor in chief Linda Wells. Adds Elle‘s creative director, Gilles Bensimon: ”It’ll be better for the model and for Elle to have an exclusive cover in the future.”

However, the cover coup brings Taylor — often called the next Cindy Crawford — back to the fore. Along with raising her twin boys (1-year-olds Hunter and Jake), she’s still recovering from the asthma-related death of her sister, Krissy Taylor, 17, last July. More recently, Taylor filed for divorce from ex-football player Matthew Martinez, after two years of marriage.

The changes have forced Taylor to grow up fast, and some in the modeling world see a new maturity. ”She became more like a woman instead of a teenager,” says photographer Marc Hom, who snapped her for designer Ellen Tracy’s spring ad campaign. Taylor’s also copped a new, shorter haircut. ”She had this really, really long hair, and her look hadn’t changed for four years,” says Wells. ”Now she looks more up-to-date.”

One thing has stayed the same: Unlike most glum-faced models these days, Niki Taylor still has a winning smile. ”I got it from my mom,” she says. And it’s landing her on yet another cover — the June issue of Shape.