Miranda Rules: The Supermodel On Her Rise To Fame and Why She Gives Away Her Clothes
Miranda Kerr begins diagnosing me within moments of us sitting down, after her Lucky cover shoot in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood. She’d heard my cough on set earlier in the day, and the certified health coach in her couldn’t let me suffer any longer. “Have you tried colloidal silver? It’s a natural immune booster,” she says. “What about olive-leaf extract? Or manuka honey?” The sweet stuff from New Zealand has healing properties, she swears, and is great with hot water, lemon and garlic. I take notes. In the 17 years that Kerr has been a professional model, there’s a reason she’s never once taken a sick day.
Kerr’s impressive attendance record, though, is arguably more indicative of her unwillingness to “let down the team,” as she puts it, than of her impenetrable immune system. And these days, the 31-year-old has quite a team. “I don’t have a backup plan—I have plenty,” she says, laughing. In addition to modeling, Kerr launched Kora Organics in 2009, a line of natural skincare products sold through its website and via Net-a-Porter. The following year, she released her first self-help book, Treasure Yourself. (It was a hit with the young-adult audience and sold briskly enough to warrant 2013’s follow-up, Empower Yourself.) “The books are really trying to encourage young women to be the best versions of themselves and to celebrate their individuality and authenticity,” she says. “I want them to expand on whatever they enjoy instead of feeling like they have to fit into a certain mold.”
In 2011, she gave birth to a baby boy, Flynn, with actor Orlando Bloom, and also somehow found time to study nutrition at New York’s Institute for Integrative Nutrition (hence the authority to prescribe remedies to this ailing reporter). Not bad for a girl from New South Wales, Australia, who, as she says, “grew up on a farm, climbing trees.”
Kerr never expected her flirtation with modeling to mature into a full-blown career: “I was not worried about how I looked at all.” Once she was “discovered” in 1997 through a search held by Dolly (an Aussie teen fashion magazine) and was signed to a modeling agency, she vowed to work only during holidays. “When I started modeling, I assumed it wouldn’t last very long,” she says. “So I made sure it didn’t interfere with my schooling.” She graduated from high school, then celebrated her 18th birthday on her first big job, in Tokyo. That booking led to others, and, Kerr remembers, she quickly realized the on-the-go lifestyle suited her. “I love traveling and experiencing cultures and seeing the way people in different places dress,” she says. “I love Paris because the architecture is so beautiful. New York has a special energy to it. And the culture in Tokyo is fascinating to me.” After relocating to New York in 2004, she landed a string of great deals, starting with an appearance on Project Runway, then a contract with Maybelline and, eventually, a coveted pair of “wings” when she was cast as Victoria’s Secret’s first Australian Angel in 2008. Her trademark dimples—a cute, every-girl counterpoint to her curves—helped take her from working model to supermodel. (Forbes just ranked her second on its list of highest-paid models, behind Gisele Bündchen.)
In her early years in the spotlight, maxi dresses or cutoffs were her wardrobe staples (still in her closet: a well-worn black Dior Homme blazer she got 10 years ago). But all that travel, and exposure to the fashion industry, eventually rubbed off on her. Where once there were boxy dresses and boy-shorts, now there are sexy risks—cutouts and plunging necklines for red carpets and shredded jeans with leopard-print flats and a structured bag on the street.
“I grew into my femininity over the last 10 years,” she admits. “I’m influenced by my grandmother. She’s always chic. Even if she’s just at home and cooking in the kitchen, she looks effortlessly put together.” Right now, relaxing in a mod lounge chair, Kerr is just the right mix of high and low: YSL booties, a peekaboo 3.1 Phillip Lim sweater and 7 for All Mankind skinny jeans.
“I’m a very tactile person—I like clothing that feels good against my skin,” she continues. Her current list of favorites: high-waisted jeans, silky shirts, leather ankle boots and sunglasses in every size and shape. “Célines are my favorites right now, but I wear my gold Miu Mius a lot too,” she says. Though she’s tempted to start a collection, she ends up giving some of her best pairs to friends when they stop by her apartment: “I have a philosophy. I give a couple of pieces away for every one that I get. I live in New York City and I have a small closet, and it’s also a good way to keep the flow, so my closet is constantly being turned over.”
Kerr’s innate ability to pair tailored button-downs with Lanvin ballet flats has earned her a faithful online following—3.8 million strong and counting on Instagram. The fact that she makes it look so easy is part of the draw. But it turns out that’s just how Kerr operates. “It’s much more appealing to me to feel good in something than to wear a piece just because it’s considered cool,” she says.
And, she reveals, she’s as hooked on the thrill of fashion voyeurism as her followers are. “Instagram got me interested in exploring social media,” she tells me. “I’m a visual person, and it’s a way that you can see life through other people’s eyes. It’s quite fascinating to see a different perspective.” Multinational companies understand what an asset a digital influencer like Kerr can be: Swarovski recently made her the “face” of the brand, Reebok shows her post-workout shower in its recent Skyscape sneaker ads and Royal Albert gave her “complete creative freedom” to design its newest line of tea sets.
The executives at the classic china company are surely patting themselves on the back: When Kerr posted a photo announcing the partnership in April, 192,000 followers commented, enthusiastically, in Arabic, Greek, Korean and other languages.
Kerr’s multitude of deals, though, aren’t just about expanding the Miranda Kerr empire—they’re an expression of her philosophy. “I’ve made an effort to be, like, what products do I really believe in and what is it that I’m passionate about?” says Kerr. “And so I diversified my brand.”
Indeed, the Royal Albert opportunity appealed to her for sentimental reasons as much as business ones. “My grandmother has a cabinet with her collection of Royal Albert and Royal Doulton tea sets,” says Kerr. “They’re her most prized possessions. Every now and then she’d take them out and we’d sit and have a special cup of tea. So I knew what a gift it would be for her.”
The business of being Miranda has evolved out of Kerr’s matter-of-fact understanding that a model’s shelf life can be fleeting. After Flynn’s arrival, she made a decision to work fewer days but earn more. “Before him, I’d work six days in a row and really enjoy it,” she says. “Now my career has grown into something more.” If a job is just a few days, she’ll go solo (“I’ve found that routine is very important for children; even though they’re quite malleable, they do feel safe in their schedule,” she says), but if it’s longer Flynn will tag along.
After becoming a mom, Kerr took time off to be with Flynn (Bloom continues to co-parent with her since their split in October) and to get her pre-baby body back. “I didn’t put any pressure on myself. I was focused on having a healthy baby—and I had a 10-pound baby!” she says. “I just loved breast-feeding. It was something that came very easily to me and it helped speed up my metabolism.” Case in point: She walked the Balenciaga runway when her son was just two months old. “I nursed for a year and a half, and I pumped when I was at work,” she adds.
“Motherhood is the best,” she continues. “It’s rewarding to see a little being develop and to grow into an individual. Flynn makes me laugh so much. We have the same sense of humor, which no one else understands. I’ll look at something and laugh, and then he’ll laugh, and it’s so contagious.”
Of course, parenthood isn’t the most relaxing of pursuits, with or without a supermodel’s schedule. But Kerr takes it in stride. “Life can get so busy for everyone, regardless of what your profession is, but it’s taking the time to have moments of gratitude that makes it meaningful,” she says. “And it does take discipline, a consciousness to do that. Being grateful and happy is a choice, I think.”
To stay grounded, Kerr practices Transcendental Meditation, just breathing and clearing her mind for 20 minutes, twice a day. She’s a total nerd for documentaries on the brain. She pulls up pages of notes she took on her iPhone while watching the BBC’s Horizon: The Truth About Personality. “This doctor at Essex University started doing Cognitive Bias Modification and meditation to try to be more optimistic,” she says. “The researchers showed improvement in reducing unconscious negative biases.”
But Kerr is not all sage advice and life lessons gleaned from the BBC. She’s equally enthusiastic about her less-academic obsessions. She can’t get enough of her Beats Music app, which has clued her in to artists like Griffin House and Ben Howard. Kerr tries to pop into her friend Mary Helen Bowers’ Ballet Beautiful classes often when she’s at home in New York. If not, she’ll do the DVDs. “I exercise every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes of squats or yoga or lunges or butt lifts”—she demonstrates by lifting her (suffice it to say, perfectly sculpted) derriere up to the cloudless sky. “It really makes a difference.” Still, Kerr recognizes that aging is inevitable, and she intends to embrace it. “Audrey Hepburn aged quite well,” she notes.
Of course, should Mother Nature not spread her pixie dust all over her forever, the Aussie has a few tricks up her sleeves. For that small pimple on her forehead? “I might do a good, fresh cucumber mask tonight.” She swears by using a cleanser, toner and moisturizer every day and rose-hip oil at night.
For those times when her body needs a little pick-me-up? “I spray-tan before I walk down the runway,” she admits. She also always uses a dry brush to scrub her skin and stimulate her lymphatic system “every day before I shower, just for two minutes.” In a pinch, she’ll curl her eyelashes with the back of a spoon, using a flick of the wrist similar to what a florist would employ when using a pair of scissors to twirl a bit of ribbon. She always carries RMS concealer in her purse, and tinted moisturizer from Kora. “On a summer’s day, it gives you a little glow.” And she won’t go without her daily smoothie—a concoction containing goji berries, maca powder and vitamins. “I put them in the shake. I feel like it’s more palatable that way,” she says.
Kerr would happily share her beauty secrets for days. But the sun has set, and she must go. (In the hour we’ve been chatting, she’s missed nine calls and 29 texts.) She instructs me to drink a lot of cold-pressed juices—she drinks at least two every day—and to hit up a Whole Foods for some of that silver tonic.
“I could be here all night talking,” she says, as her assistant leads her to a waiting Escalade. She’s got another photo shoot tomorrow, then a flight to Australia to catch. The Miranda Kerr brand must march on.