Moving On Up
She might be a supermodel but Miranda Kerr's numerous successful endeavours are proof that you can be both sexy and smart
Miranda Kerr is not just a pretty face. The phenomenally successful supermodel has a great relationship with her ex, Orlando Bloom, a raft of contracts, two books, and a skincare line – about all of which she happily reminds her 3.75 million Instagram followers. Her latest project? A range of china. Jessica Grose meets her for a cuppa to talk about what looks like yet another bumper year.
Miranda Kerr wafts into a Manhattan hotel suite a block from her home along with a wave of flowery scent and an entourage of make-up artists, publicists, and unidentified staff. She’s wearing a structured black and pink Dolce & Gabbana floral dress and brightly patterned Louboutins. Flowers surround us: peonies – her favourite. They are on her new collection of tea china for Royal Albert, which she is here to promote, and arranged in vases around the room. As we drink green jasmine tea out of her dainty cups, sitting around a stand of petit fours and macarons that no one eats, it is as if we are transported back to a childhood tea party. Those treats might as well be plastic ones, since they are merely decorative. Kerr, with her bright blue eyes, soft curls, poreless skin, and trademark dimples, looks like the prettiest dolly at the party, the one for which you’d fight your sister. “Friendship is the basis of the collection,” she says, when asked about the inspiration behind her Royal Albert line. It’s about “having tea with friends and taking time to sit down and connect, especially in the busy world of today.” She is perfectly, entirely on-message, whether talking about that or any of her myriad other ventures, from her skincare line, Kora Organics, to her two self-help books, Treasure Yourself and Empower Yourself.
When I have challenges now, I feel like I sit with them, I try to look at things, because there’s always a positive and a negative to everything.
In sum, she is a marketer’s dream. Last year, Forbes listed her as the world’s second-highest paid model, behind Gisele Bündchen. Kerr, 31, raked in a reported US$7.2 million in 2013, thanks to contracts with Mango, the Australian department store David Jones, Lipton and Quantas. She’s been a name since at least 2006, when she broke the American market, signing contracts with Maybelline and Victoria’s Secret, and appearing with Rosie Huntington Whiteley in the video for the Pharrell Williams song “Number 1”. Within a couple of years, as she began to be spotted with the actor Orlando Bloom – whom she married in 2010 and split from last October – her name was uttered alongside fellow Victoria’s Secret Angels Heidi Klum and Gisele. That’s when her agent told a newspaper how well Kerr sells product: “It’s all about the bottom line for the clients. It’s as blunt as that.” Although she is clearly excellent at her job, Kerr claims that she doesn’t take modelling very seriously, and never has. As a child in Australia, she lived on
a farm in a small, bucolic town called Gunnedah, a five-hours ours drive from Sydney. “I grew up with horses and motorbikes s and being outside,” she says. In some profiles, she’s been described as a tomboy, but she clarifies, and is again right t “on brand”, connecting her childhood to her new Royal Albert Tea Collection. “I guess I was a tomboy in that I loved to be outside, and then I had that balance and I was intrigued by the feminine aspect,” she explains. “I would sit and talk to my grandmother a lot about certain things. Her prize possession was her tea set. She had this little tea set, and all the bits and pieces that go with it. Little ornate objects in this cabinet. We’d sit, and she’d say, ‘Let’s have a cup of tea.’” Kerr says she spent a lot of time with her grandmother because her own mother was just 18 when she had her, and was working. Kerr might still be down on the farm with her gran if a friend hadn’t entered her in a Dolly magazine modelling contest. Kerr won. “I was 14. I guess I wasn’t that interested [in modelling]. I wanted to finish high school,” she says. “When I finished high school I travelled to Japan, because I had a contract in Japan. Then I went back to Australia. I didn’t really take it seriously to begin with. I just thought it was a fun experience. I never thought it would last this long.”
Angel No More
I ask her how working with the hugely powerful lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret – a gig she got at 22 – changed the path of her career. It was “a really wonderful experience and one that I’m so grateful for, because it opened up so many doors and really gave me a voice in the industry,” she says. Although various tabloids reported that Kerr was let go from her USD$1 million, three-year contract last year, she says that it was her choice to walk away: “I’m very close with the team. I just felt like I couldn’t commit to the amount of days that they needed and that was required.”
She wants to work on shorter contracts than she did earlier in her career so she can spend more time with her and Bloom’s son, Flynn, who is three. “For now I like to work ideally a couple of days on, a couple off,” Kerr says. She tries to do as many shoot days as possible in New York, so she can prioritise time with Flynn. When she’s with him, she turns the phone off and heads to the park.
Both Kerr and Bloom live in New York. “I’m grateful that I’ve got a great, amicable separation from my ex,” Bloom said recently and, indeed, when the couple unexpectedly bumped into each other on the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Oscars party this year, the cameras caught just a little awkwardness as he kissed her on the cheek. “We’ve been really good about it,” says Kerr of their co-parenting arrangement. “He’s a great dad, we’re great friends, and we both really love and respect each other. It works out really well, because when I go away for a couple days [Flynn] stays with his dad.”
Although she has only positive things to say about Bloom, one of the few times I see a glimmer of real personality during our interview is when I ask her about her religion and spirituality. It’s been previously reported dozens of times that Kerr is a practising Nichiren Buddhist, which she now denies. “No, I’m not Buddhist. Orlando is,” she says, a little sharply. When I ask her if that’s been misreported, she will only say, “I’m not Buddhist. I’m Christian. I pray every day. I meditate every day and I do yoga. I’m not religious, I’m spiritual. And praying is something my grandmother taught me as well. To pray and be grateful; have gratitude is a big thing for me.”
I like people from
different walks of life.
Woman Of Steel
The unvarnished Kerr is a combination of airy and determined: someone who decorates her books with butterflies but is also very clearly shrewd and ambitious. The other sparky response I get from her is when she talks about posting a photograph of herself breast-feeding the newborn Flynn on her website back in 2011. “There was so much pressure at the time on us as a family for that first picture. And you know, the paparazzi were very aggressive and waiting outside our door every single day,” Kerr says. “And so Orlando and I decided – he took the photo – to post it on my social media. That way, that first photo wouldn’t be worth nearly as much, because I’d already posted it.” She says it takes a lot of effort and time to avoid the paparazzi, but she’s sanguine about them. “It’s all part of the process. And I accept that. You can’t begrudge it because it’s helped me get to where I am today. But there are times when [I wish] I didn’t have to worry about it so much.” I ask who her support system is in New York, since she’s so far away from her family in Australia. She doesn’t answer my question directly at first, instead talking about a highschool boyfriend who died in a car accident when they were teenagers, and how the trauma changed her approach to life. “When I have challenges now, I feel like I sit with them, I try to look at things, because there’s always a positive and a negative to everything,” she says. “And sometimes I’ll speak to friends, and sometimes I’ll just meditate and I’ll visualise letting it go, or whatever it might be. Meditation and yoga, and having people, as I said, who you trust, who you talk to. But also writing. I like to write, and then I can rip it up or burn it.” Kerr says that she has a “variety of friends, and I like people from different walks of life”. She mentions one friend from home, and her make-up artist, Rosemary, who looks after her dog, Frankie, when she’s away. She says she speaks to her grandmother and herr father. She does not mention her mother, Therese, who made headlines in February when she complained on an Australians reality show that the family barely sees Kerr anymore. ore.
Eye On The Prize
Kerr does tell me she’s going back to Australia for three weeks soon to see family. She’s reportedly edly dating the Australian billionaire James Packer, ker, who also grew up in Gunnedah. Today, though, gh, all Kerr will say about her current romantic life is that she’s “single and focused on work”. Indeed she is focused. Even without her Victoria’s Secret contract, Kerr is poised to have a bumper year in 2014. She’s currently the face of the Swedish retailer H&M, the face of Escada’s perfume, Joyful, the face of Swarovski crystal, the face (and body) of Wonderbra, she’s filmed a sexy advertisement for Reebok’s Skyscape sneakers and has branched into music, recording vocals on a track by the Irish singer Bobby Fox. And, of course, there’s her china, by which we’re surrounded, and of which Kerr is very proud. She calls it her “passion project”.
“I’m not limited by modelling,” she tells me. “It’s not the be all and end all. I’m very appreciative of it, but if it stops tomorrow, that’s not the end of the world, because there’s so much more that I’m passionate about as well.”
A few hours after I leave her hotel room, Kerr posts a photograph of herself drinking tea out of one of her signature Royal Albert cups on Instagram for her 3.75 million followers. Almost every Instagram photo she’s posted in the past month has been supporting one of her many branded deals. In this one, Kerr’s hair cascades over one shoulder, and the photo looks campaign ready. The cup is bedecked with butterflies and her trademark peonies and is covering half her face. You can only see her eyes peeking out over the top. They’re slightly narrowed and looking off to the side of the frame. Though she protests that she still doesn’t take modelling too seriously, she looks like she’s plotting her next move.