It-girl turned mompreneur Caprice Bourret on playing the fame game again, page
‘MY LIFE WAS MAD, WILD, FUN – I LOVED IT, I LIVED IT’
From It-girl to ‘mompreneur’, CAPRICE BOURRET has masterminded a reinvention of epic proportions. But celebrity is like an addiction, she confesses to
Louise Gannon – it pulls you back…
INa penthouse suite overlooking the bright lights of London, Caprice Bourret is having a moment. Her mouth is fixed in a perfect ‘O’ as a sudden revelation – courtesy of YOU magazine – hits her. It’s a flashback from her wild past as the ultimate It-girl of a generation whose lives revolved around parties, private jets and paparazzi.
The last time Caprice posed for YOU was 16 years ago, at the height of her fame. ‘The night before I’d been at the MTV Awards in Frankfurt until 5am and I met Fred Durst [the lead singer of rock band Limp Bizkit]. During the shoot he called and told me he was in New York and was sending me a plane ticket so I could fly to see him that night.
‘He was pretty hot so I went straight from the shoot to the plane, his driver picked me up at the airport in New York and took me to a gorgeous French restaurant, La Goulue. We had this crazy romantic dinner, then he said he needed to go to his recording studio to lay down a track. I was furious. I’d flown all the way out there to see him and I wasn’t going to wait around. I went straight back to the airport and booked a flight to London.
‘And that,’ she says, ‘was what my life was like then. It was mad, wild, fun; I dated so many guys [she was actually in a relationship with Saturday Night Live’s David Spade at the time of the Durst liaison]. I loved it, I lived it, but I wouldn’t go back.’
Caprice is now 45 years old. She is still very beautiful – a willowy, expensive-looking blonde – but she is no longer the It-girl who captured headlines in 1996 by wearing a see-through black lace dress and dating men from Durst to footballer Tony Adams and cricketer Kevin Pietersen. Today she is the mother of three-year-old boys Jett and Jax. She has a partner, city financier Ty Comfort (who has three children from a previous marriage), and an underwear and bedding business, By Caprice Products (she is founder and CEO).
Hers is a reinvention of epic proportions. Once the number-one choice of lads’ mags and celebrity magazines, Caprice now speaks regularly at business conferences and appears in the financial pages of newspapers. Her metamorphosis began in her early 30s when she realised that her days as a model were numbered. ‘I knew I had one foot in the grave in terms of my career and I needed a plan B.’
In 2000, Debenhams used her name on a range of lingerie. Six years later she bought back the licence and began By Caprice. ‘It wasn’t easy. Quite rightly suppliers and stockists had no interest in some model who could be here one minute and gone the next. I stalked people to get them to take me seriously. I had to study the market, see for myself which designs worked and which didn’t, make fast decisions about stock and look at finances, exchange rates and where the best factories were. Debenhams backed me, but it took me two years to persuade Next to stock my designs and eventually others followed, including Figleaves and Asos.’
She describes herself as a ‘mompreneur’ and works five days a week at an office near her West London home. She is hands-on with the designs as well as the accounts and her small team of staff. ‘People judge me for my past and they always will. But I have my babies, my boy and my business – and that’s all I need,’ she says.
Caprice embraces rather than diminishes her racy past. ‘I was always really about business,’ she says. ‘Hell, taking my clothes off was a business decision. I’m too short for catwalk modelling and back then the lads’ mags were where the money was. I made my first million by 25 and I invested in property. I could have made more money by marrying a rich man, but that was never my plan. I was raised by my mother to be independent, so I worked with what I had to get me where I am.’
But life is never that simple, and for Caprice there’s a new complication. The day after we meet, she flew to Innsbruck in Austria, where she is
taking part in Channel 4’s terrifying winter sports challenge The Jump, alongside former professional cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins, gymnast Louis Smith, former England footballer Robbie Fowler and TV presenter Vogue Williams. It is a series that has seriously injured more celebrities – including actress Tina Hobley, Sir Steve Redgrave and gymnast Beth Tweddle, who had to be airlifted to hospital – than any other show in TV history. In 2015 former Strictly dancer Ola Jordan and Sally Bercow were both so badly injured in training that neither of them made it to the actual competition.
Caprice shrugs: ‘I heard all the horror stories but I also did my own research. I spoke to nine people, including my friends Tamara Beckwith and Jodie Kidd [both previous contestants], who all gave me proper advice and encouragement. I have been skiing since I was a toddler and I won’t be taking any unnecessary risks. The idea of training with professionals at the top of their game really fired me up, and I’m going to take my boys and Ty out there for two weeks so they can ski and we can have time together.’
Caprice is no stranger to reality shows, having appeared on Celebrity Big Brother, diving show Splash! and Celebrity Come Dine With Me and, as ever, there is a business angle. ‘I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit I’m partly doing this to promote my brand. When I was on Big Brother my underwear range sold out in two weeks, which was incredible. We are living in tough times in retail – I lost 30 per cent of my net worth overnight after Brexit – so you have to do everything you can to promote your brand. But honestly, I’m going to be learning incredible skills. I’m completely terrified about doing the skeleton run [downhill toboggan].’ She pauses and smiles: ‘There’s also the thrill of dipping my toe back into the entertainment business – it’s definitely going to be exciting.
‘I remember when my whole life was about being in the limelight and trying to pretend – like so many celebrities do – that I found it hard. But who are they kidding? It’s amazing. You get looked after, you get loved, you have people running around you. I loved everything about it. Being
a mum, shopping, making meals, running my own business – that’s hard work.’
She is, however, happier in herself than she was a decade ago. ‘I drank too much, I partied too much. I never touched drugs but I made a lot of mistakes.’ There was a drink-driving incident in 2006, posing nude for Playboy in 2000, knocking five years off her age when the US oil heir Alex Davis asked her to marry him in 2003, and rumours of her dating Prince Andrew in 2000 (‘He was just a friend,’ she said later). Ask her what her biggest mistake was and she says, ‘Probably some of the guys I went out with. But I learned never to make the same mistake twice.’
And so back to the complications of her life. As we sit and talk, Caprice becomes more serious. Born and bred in California, she is direct and feels no embarrassment talking about money, about relationships, about Botox. ‘Yes I do it and I love it. I started after I had kids. It freshens up my face. I do have wrinkles, I do have cellulite and I don’t really care, but when I look in a mirror after I’ve had Botox I think my face looks better. For me, it’s a good thing.’
We talk about Ty, her partner of five years, who she met through close friends a year after he had split from his wife. ‘He is this tall, handsome, quiet, academic, solid man,’ she says. ‘I held out for someone like him. He makes me happy, he’s a good father.’
Within a year of being with Ty, Caprice knew she wanted children, but after several rounds of IVF she was let down by the body that made her fame and fortune. Doctors said her womb lining was too thin to support a baby. ‘So there were tears, there was heartbreak, and then you work out how else you can become a mother,’ she says.
She opted for surrogacy, travelling with Ty to California to find a woman to carry their biological child. ‘We went to the States because in Britain a surrogate can change her mind and have a legal right to the child she has carried, even if it is your biological baby,’ she says. ‘We didn’t want to take the risk.’
As part of the process, would-be surrogate mothers submit resumés for potential parents. Caprice wanted a surrogate who didn’t drink alcohol, smoke, take drugs and was quiet and religious. You have to wonder how she herself would have fared: would she have picked someone like her? ‘Hell no,’ she says bluntly. ‘I wanted someone completely opposite, I wanted to make sure everything would be all right.’
But, in a bizarre twist of fate, within months of the surrogacy taking place, Caprice found out that she was pregnant herself and that her baby would be born within weeks of her surrogate baby (conceived by IVF using her egg and Ty’s sperm).
‘For us, it was two miracles coinciding – the surrogacy working and then my pregnancy,’ she says. ‘I was filming Splash! at the time and felt exhausted. When I missed my period I thought it was because my body was under strain from the training and all the IVF I had been through. When I finally did a pregnancy test we were stunned. I’d been told by doctors it was impossible.’
It has been written that Caprice is raising her boys as twins and will not tell them which one was born by surrogate until they are 16. She shakes her head. ‘I don’t raise them as twins. They have separate birthdays a few weeks apart, but we only have one party because it would be silly at their age to do anything different.’ As regards the surrogacy she looks serious. ‘We see our surrogate about twice a year. She’s a lovely lady and my boys call her auntie, but as yet they don’t know anything more. We want to tell them, sooner rather than later, because it’s not something we want to leave as a big secret. It’s just finding the right words, the right way to tell them.’
Caprice has had more eggs frozen, but has decided against further attempts. ‘I feel I have been luckier than I ever thought I would be and that, at 45 with two boys, I have everything I ever wanted.’
There are no plans to marry Ty. ‘None,’ she says firmly. ‘I don’t want to get married. I never have. I want to be with Ty for ever but marriage is ugly and difficult and it’s not something I need.’
It is a strange choice of words. But there is a glittering chip within Caprice that is straight from an F Scott Fitzgerald story. To understand her you have to understand where she came from. Born in Hacienda Heights in Los Angeles County, she was named by her glamorous interior designer mother Valerie after a Doris Day movie. She grew up with her younger sister Tiffany surrounded by relatives, playing poker at weekends and skiing during the winter. Her estate-agent father Dale left when she was four, after divorcing Valerie, and never saw his daughter again after she turned nine.
It is, she admits, the reason why she will
never marry. ‘It scarred me,’ she says. ‘I remember the rows, I remember these two people who fell out of love, and I remember court cases over money. It was ugly.’
Remarkably, Caprice has never had any ill feeling towards her father. She has always, in interviews, said she loved him. Now she is trying to stop tears falling. Just weeks before our meeting she discovered he had died. ‘I didn’t have a relationship with him, but I have always loved him and know there are two sides to every story. Just recently he left this earth, which was painful, but I know he looks after me and my boys. He’s our guardian angel. I am proud to be his daughter and hope I can make him just as proud.’
She asks to change the subject. It is clear she has been hit by an emotional tsunami. I ask her about her mother, the woman who waved her goodbye at the age of 18 when, after winning Miss Teen California, she left home to become a model, working for Vogue and Sports Illustrated, travelling the world and eventually landing in London – the city she now considers her home – at the age of 23.
‘My mother made me independent,’ she says. ‘She gave me a great work ethic and a sense that I could be completely fearless.’
Her younger sister (they are a year apart) works as a nurse and they remain close. ‘My mum and my sister are both very beautiful but much more voluptuous than I am. I watch my weight because I have the fat gene and can’t let it out.’ Ever the model, when she diets she just eats broccoli, tofu and legumes and nothing after 5pm. ‘I’m not so strict these days,’ she says, pointing out a microscopic tummy bulge. ‘But I always have small portions and I never eat late.’
It is very easy to like Caprice, to see the grit beneath the glamour, the woman who has made the best of things, who turned a wasteland near her West London home into a community garden project that won her accolades from her neighbours. As she leaves, she returns to the subject of her sons. ‘I loved my wild life before all this,’ she says. ‘But I never knew happiness like I have now and all I want is for this to last.’ As for those ski jumps? ‘I’m going to surprise you.’ She already has.
The Jump is on Channel 4 tonight. By Caprice is available from very.co.uk, lookagain.co.uk and wayfair.co.uk
My boys call our surrogate auntie, but as yet they don’t know anything more
CAPRICE WEARS COAT and EARRINGS, Dior. BODY, Wolford. NECKLACE, Susan Caplan. RING, Savage & Rose. SHOES, Topshop
Above, from left: Caprice in the hot tub with Happy Mondays band member Bez in Celebrity Big Brother, 2005; in the current series of The Jump and with her partner Ty Comfort