Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Photography STEVEN CHEE Styling MA­RINA AFONINA Cre­ative Di­rec­tion ALEKSANDRA BEARE Words VIC­TO­RIA HANNAFORD

As a model, phi­lan­thropist, coder and stu­dent, there’s more to Kar­lie Kloss than meets the eye. In fact, she’s de­ter­mined to make a dif­fer­ence.

Con­sider the su­per­model; long limbs, sharp cheek­bones, killer smile. Amer­i­can clotheshorse Kar­lie Kloss ticks all of these boxes, but beyond the pho­to­genic at­tributes, she pos­sesses traits less indicative of some­one who has spent al­most a decade in front of the cam­era.

The one-time Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret model and mem­ber of Tay­lor Swift’s in­ner cir­cle – aka “squad” – Kloss is carv­ing out a name for her­self in realms far from fash­ion. She’s ap­peared in Zoolan­der 2, but has also worked on phil­an­thropic projects and is study­ing at univer­sity. The 24-year-old will also work on an up­com­ing TV sci­ence se­ries for Net­flix, Bill Nye Saves The World. She an­nounced her role as cor­re­spon­dent with the words: “We’ll be talk­ing about every nerdy thing you can dream of.”

Her in­ter­est in sci­ence tech­nol­ogy has led to Kloss be­ing lauded by for­mer US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama as a “su­per­model and su­per­coder” when she vis­ited the White House dur­ing its Sci­ence Fair last year.

That’s not her only con­nec­tion to the high­est of­fice in the US. Her boyfriend, en­tre­pre­neur Joshua Kush­ner, is the brother of Jared Kush­ner, who is mar­ried to Ivanka Trump and now holds the ti­tle of se­nior adviser to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump – although Joshua and Kloss pub­licly sup­ported Hil­lary Clin­ton’s run for of­fice. Although such mat­ters are of­ten deemed “no-go” zones for in­ter­views, her min­ders needn’t worry, be­cause this is one whip-smart model who can def­i­nitely han­dle her­self.

WHEN STEL­LAR MEETS with Kloss, she’s half­way through a whirl­wind trip to Aus­tralia – her first – to work with David Jones as the face of its au­tumn/win­ter col­lec­tion, for which she re­cently head­lined their new-sea­son launch. On set at The Univer­sity of Syd­ney for our photo shoot, the model’s time is lim­ited by a fre­netic sched­ule, but her ex­pe­ri­ence shows. While she ad­mits to suf­fer­ing jet lag, there’s no vis­i­ble trace as she works her an­gles; she re­mains fo­cused when work­men make a racket mov­ing steel poles be­hind her, and when tourists stop and stare at her 1.9m-frame pos­ing for the cam­era.

Kloss puts ev­ery­one at ease, nails her shots in min­utes and im­pro­vises when mi­nor is­sues, such as the shoes prov­ing sev­eral sizes too small, crop up. When she spies one of the shots on the pho­tog­ra­pher’s mon­i­tor, Kloss is quick to pro­claim her­self happy with the re­sults, and it’s clear the praise is meant as a com­pli­ment to the stylists and crew.

The aca­demic set­ting of the univer­sity for the shoot was cho­sen specif­i­cally for Kloss, given ed­u­ca­tion book­ends her life in fash­ion thus far. “The hy­phen­ate I’m most proud of is ‘stu­dent’,” she says of her many job ti­tles. Apart from her day job, Kloss is work­ing to­wards a de­gree at New York Univer­sity, where she en­rolled in 2015.

“It’s been a good challenge. I like hav­ing some­thing to fo­cus on out­side of fash­ion; the struc­ture and dis­ci­pline of school and hav­ing dead­lines.”

Tak­ing on mul­ti­ple roles has been part of Kloss’s life for as long as she’s been a model. Dis­cov­ered at au­di­tions for a char­ity fash­ion show in her small town just out­side of St Louis, Mis­souri, her ca­reer took off when she was just 15. “I had no idea what was ahead, it’s all been at hy­per-speed,” she says of her start in the fash­ion world. “High school started and [New York] Fash­ion Week was two days af­ter­wards. I went to New York for the week­end, walked for Calvin Klein and I didn’t come back to school for the rest of that week. So then I had to fig­ure out how to jug­gle the two – but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Kloss worked hard to main­tain her high-school work­load and friend­ships with peers, and while it re­quired ded­i­ca­tion to com­plete her stud­ies, she clearly en­joyed the op­por­tu­ni­ties that came with her mod­el­ling ca­reer, even at such an early age.

“That was a sur­real four years,” she says of her time in high school. “I lived this dou­ble life of be­ing a nor­mal teenager with my best friends and my sis­ters, and go­ing to prom and be­ing very, very nor­mal. And then [it was] this Cin­derella life, where I would go to Paris, walk in the Chanel cou­ture show, work with Karl Lager­feld, work with all of these in­cred­i­ble de­sign­ers and, you know, meet bril­liant peo­ple in this world that I never knew ex­isted. That was a huge learn­ing curve and it hasn’t slowed down since. [It] was al­most like a movie.”

Kloss says her par­ents en­cour­aged her en­try into the mod­el­ling in­dus­try, and viewed it as a means to a less con­ven­tional ed­u­ca­tion along­side her high-school stud­ies. “My par­ents have been very sup­port­ive, more so than I would be as a par­ent,” she says. “They had the con­fi­dence in me, in know­ing that trav­el­ling and hav­ing ex­po­sure to


dif­fer­ent cul­tures is one of the best ed­u­ca­tions you could have. It wasn’t like they shipped me off – they were with me every step of the way.”

Nev­er­the­less, Kloss, who says she would have be­come a teacher or doc­tor had the fash­ion world not beck­oned, is proud of the fact she main­tained her “nor­mal” life, too. “I went to prom with my friends, I grad­u­ated at the same time as ev­ery­one; I just did a lot of my classes as in­de­pen­dent study,” she says. “I was on track with all my peers, and was in class for a por­tion of the week, but had to be self-dis­ci­plined to do the work and learn­ing out­side.”

Kloss lights up when talk­ing about her high-school re­sults (“I was very proud of my grades”), which were good enough to grant her en­try into the pres­ti­gious New York Univer­sity. But it was be­fore she en­rolled in ter­tiary stud­ies that she hap­pened upon an­other in­ter­est: cod­ing. Kloss took a short course to sat­isfy her cu­rios­ity about tech­nol­ogy.

“It came out of want­ing to un­der­stand what code is; to un­der­stand the fun­da­men­tals of what pow­ers tech­nol­ogy, how it’s built, both the hard­ware and the soft­ware,” she says.

While she felt em­pow­ered by what she learnt – she’s also cre­ated a few apps as a hobby – Kloss re­alised that women were un­der-rep­re­sented pro­fes­sion­ally in the field. So in 2015 she started Kode with Klossy, which of­fers schol­ar­ships for girls and women who want to ex­pand their cod­ing skills or ca­reer. “The more peo­ple you can em­power with that knowl­edge or those skills, the more in­cred­i­ble things that are go­ing to be built in our fu­ture as we be­come more re­liant on that tech­nol­ogy,” she says.

She’s also led the way for oth­ers in the fash­ion in­dus­try to be­come sup­port­ers of women ac­quir­ing tech skills. Vogue Aus­tralia edi­tor-in-chief Ed­wina Mccann says Kloss’s work sparked the launch of Vogue Codes, a week­end sem­i­nar that started last year as part of a cam­paign to draw women into tech­nol­ogy-based ca­reers. “We re­alised our au­di­ence in Aus­tralia was re­ally re­spond­ing to what Kar­lie was do­ing. She was a cat­a­lyst for driv­ing us to be­come in­volved with this very quickly,” Mccann says.

Mccann adds that Kloss is the only model she knows of who has made the con­nec­tion between sci­ence and fash­ion, and that in do­ing so she has the po­ten­tial to in­flu­ence many young women and their vo­ca­tional choices.

“Hav­ing role mod­els like Kar­lie say­ing com­puter en­gi­neer­ing is cool is chang­ing the whole lan­guage around, not just cod­ing it­self, but be­ing in­volved with tech­nol­ogy,” she tells Stel­lar.

Cod­ing is not the only in­ter­est that Kloss has man­aged to turn into a char­i­ta­ble en­ter­prise. She has also de­vel­oped a line of bis­cuits sold in North Amer­ica, the pro­ceeds of which funds school lunches for chil­dren in need.

Kloss says both projects came about or­gan­i­cally, but that she’s al­ways had a de­sire to pro­vide for oth­ers. “I would al­ways bring cook­ies to shoots. I have a sweet tooth, but I also try to be a more healthy baker, and I started this thing called Kar­lie’s Kook­ies. It’s still on­go­ing, and we’ve do­nated over a mil­lion school lunches. So that was just on a whim.

“I didn’t set out to be a phi­lan­thropist, but any op­por­tu­nity I can [take] to help oth­ers while do­ing what I en­joy do­ing is kind of the way I live my life.”

WHILE HER CA­REER fre­quently takes her across the globe (“I look back at 2016 and I was bounc­ing between coun­tries as though tak­ing the subway”), Kloss cred­its her fam­ily, and grow­ing up in a close-knit com­mu­nity, with cul­ti­vat­ing her in­stinct for good­will. “It’s the kind of place where there’s one main gro­cery store, and you walk the aisles and it’s like so­cial hour – you see ev­ery­one.

“I like help­ing peo­ple, it’s like some­thing that drives me and makes me happy. I grew up in a small town where ev­ery­body just helps ev­ery­body. No­body was par­tic­u­larly well off, but you fig­ure out how to get ev­ery­body what they need,” she says.

Kloss also knows that her celebrity sta­tus – she has more than six mil­lion fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram – has given her a unique op­por­tu­nity to take on phil­an­thropic causes.

“[Mod­el­ling’s] a foot in the door, and it’s what you do with it. I’ve been re­ally lucky to stay do­ing it, be­cause it’s such a fast-mov­ing in­dus­try. I’ve seen so many peo­ple come and go, but I think what keeps the in­dus­try in­ter­ested in me is that I want to do so much more with it.

“I don’t just want to show up and be in a photo, I see it as an op­por­tu­nity to have a plat­form and a voice to help do great things and make an im­pact on the world in a pos­i­tive way.”

De­spite all that Kloss has achieved, she does have de­trac­tors. One celebrity gos­sip web­site ques­tioned her abil­ity to ded­i­cate her­self to her stud­ies af­ter she started univer­sity, and an­other news out­let made light of her ad­mis­sion, via so­cial me­dia, that she was ner­vous about go­ing back to school, im­ply­ing that she should be more con­cerned about her mod­el­ling du­ties than study. Kloss is aware of the crit­i­cism, but is quick to de­con­struct the no­tion that mod­els can’t be beau­ti­ful and smart.

“There are def­i­nitely mis­con­cep­tions,” she says. “Mod­el­ling is in­cred­i­bly hard work, not nec­es­sar­ily in the same way as other pro­fes­sions, but you have to be very fo­cused. Gen­er­ally you start at a young age, so you have to be smart. If it’s not in a ‘book smarts’ way, it’s cer­tainly in a ‘street smarts’ way.

“So many mod­els I’m good friends with are study­ing. Mod­el­ling is a ca­reer that usu­ally is not an­tic­i­pated, it kind of hap­pens to you. A lot of us have other life plans and ca­reer paths and pas­sions that don’t stop when you be­come a model; it’s a mis­con­cep­tion, I think, on many lev­els.” She pauses for a mo­ment, then grins, “But it makes me happy to prove ev­ery­one wrong.”

KAR­LIE WEARS Cé­line dress, and Dion Lee shirt, both David Jones; Givenchy glasses, (02) 9540 0500; Louis Vuit­ton shoes, au.louisvuit­ton.com; (op­po­site page) Cé­line dress, Bianca Spen­der shirt, and Chloé ear­rings, all David Jones; Louis Vuit­ton boots, as be­fore

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