ELLE Canada's December cover star, Miranda Kerr. Image by: Max Abadian
Our December 2016 cover star (and the new face of Joe Fresh) on modelling and motherhood.
If ever you need to be reminded that modelling is a job and fashion a business, spend a couple of days with a supermodel on a big shoot.
It’s not that our days on-set with Miranda Kerr, shooting her first holiday campaign as the face of Joe Fresh, were unpleasant, but they were businesslike: Shot after shot, look after look, the Australian supe performed efficiently and without much fuss—just another person on a team of many working hard to get the thing done. (Even the puppies on-set were professional cuties, hired to gambol on faux snow spread around stylized birch trees.)
Kerr even got caught up in a little minor workplace drama at the airy studio in New York’s SoHo, where it all went down on a sunny spring day. “The hairdresser was having a challenging time on-set,” she recalls in a later conversation. “My hair was short and the client wanted it long, and [the male model, Tobias Sorensen] had long hair and they wanted it to look short. I saw that the hairdresser was looking flustered, so I gave him an oil that my aromatherapist made for me. It literally feels like a big hug. Immediately he was more centred and calmed down; he just felt so much better.”
Acrylic sweater, cotton shirt (Joe Fresh). Opening image: Cashmere sweater, sequined tank top, rayon and nylon pants and polyester sash worn as a choker (Joe Fresh), 18-karat-white-gold and diamond earrings (Brady Legler), 18-karat-gold and diamond ear cuff and 18-karat-gold and diamond ring (Ana Khouri), 24-karat-gold-plated-metal and Swarovski-crystal bracelet, sterling-silver-plated-metal and crystal bracelet, 24-karat-rose-gold-plated-metal and Swarovski-crystal ring and 24-karat-gold-plated-metal, Swarovski-crystal and freshwater-pearl ring (Vita Fede), crystal and rhodium bracelet (Swarovski) and suede and crystal pumps (Jimmy Choo). Photo: Max Abadian
That oil that Kerr casually references is part of her own natural-skincare line, Kora Organics, just one project in a seemingly endless list that the 33-year-old former Victoria’s Secret Angel has her hand in—from designing china for Royal Albert to writing a self-help book and, of course, her work fronting campaigns for the likes of Givenchy, Swarovski and, most recently, Joe Fresh. (And that’s the boldface career news from 2016 alone—there’s a reason this woman is consistently on the Forbes list of highest-earning models, pulling in a reported $7.8 million last year.)
But to hear Kerr tell it, in so many other respects she’s “just like us”: a working mom (albeit one who gets followed by photogs when she leaves work, as she was on the day of our cover shoot) going about normal life. When we catch up with her a few weeks later, our telephone conversation is interrupted by Kerr giving directions to her assistant, who’s driving them to Kerr’s favourite organic supermarket in Los Angeles, where she now lives. Their morning has been a bit frantic since it’s the last day of preschool for Kerr’s son, Flynn, and everyone had forgotten that parents need to stay for the graduation ceremony.
“And, sorry, the dog’s in the car and she’s a puppy and she’s jumping all over the place. It’s real life happening,” says Kerr, not sounding particularly stressed out. In fact, a sort of good-natured Zen is very much her MO. Ask her about the pressure of being “the big name” on a set, like she was at the Joe Fresh shoot, and she shrugs it off. “I just go in there, do my thing, enjoy myself and make sure everyone else is enjoying themselves.”
The juggling of work and parenting a five-year-old with her ex-husband, Orlando Bloom, is similarly shrugged off. “The most important thing is that when he has his time with me, we have quality time together, and when he’s with his dad, he has quality time with him,” says Kerr. “And it works out really well because I book in my photo shoots for the time he’s with his dad, and the rest of the time I just get to be a mom.”
Her idea of a good time is equally laid-back: “Being with my family, reading to Flynn, playing with him. We draw together; we build blocks together. I also love swinging on swings.” (She later tells us that most Saturday nights, you’ll find her doing the dishes after tucking Flynn into bed. She doesn’t mention it, but presumably her fiancé, Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel, is somewhere in the background of that pretty domestic scene.) “I’m a homebody,” she says, half-apologetically. “Being at home is the biggest luxury to me. I can’t help it!” (She later confesses that the grocery store is her “happy place” and if she weren’t a model, she’d be a naturopath.)
Acrylic sweater, cotton shirt and nylon-spandex tights (Joe Fresh) and 18-karat-gold and diamond earring (Ana Khouri). Photo: Max Abadian
Kerr says she was “born a naturally positive person. My mom used to call me a ‘giggling Gert’ because I was always laughing, even in my sleep.” But it’s clear she also works hard to cultivate what she calls “a wonderful foundation for happiness.”
“When Orlando and I separated [in 2013], I actually fell into a really bad depression,” she says. “I never understood the depth of that feeling or the reality of that because I was naturally a very happy person.” What got Kerr through that time was learning that “every thought you have affects your reality and only you have control of your mind.”
Enter twice-daily meditation and that oil mentioned earlier. Kerr still keeps up the mindful practice and has added yoga and healthy eating. “And also, when I wake up and when I go to bed, I have that attitude of gratitude and I say, ‘Thank you for this beautiful day, for this roof over my head, for the fact that I have my health and my son has his health, and thank you for our family.’”
And while she’s all about sending out those thankful vibes to the universe, Kerr is ultimately a believer in self-sufficiency. “What I have found is that everything you need, all of the answers are deep inside of you,” she preaches. “Sit with yourself, take a few breaths and get close to your spirit.”
If you’re thinking that Kerr has an aphorism for every occasion, you’re not wrong. A teaching moment is even at the heart of the tale of her “best surprise ever”: “For my birthday last year, my boyfriend [now fiancé] put candles leading down to the back of the garden, where he had planted a willow for me. That’s my favourite tree because I have this philosophy that we should all be like willow trees—people think that in a big storm, the oak is the strongest tree, but it’s actually the willow tree because it’s very, very flexible.”
Fashion direction, Juliana Schiavinatto; hair, Ken O’Rourke (Streeters); makeup, Lisa Storey (The Wall Group); manicure, Rieko Okusa (Susan Price NYC); styling assistants, Jillian Amos and Cherry Wang; photographer’s assistants, Brandon Harrison and Patrick McLain; hair assistants, Jacob Rozenberg and Sean Bennett; makeup assistant, Kohei Domoto; manicure assistant, Marina Iwakoshi