Having recently given birth to her second son with former AFL Geelong star Jimmy Bartel, life is busier than ever for fashion personality Nadia Bartel – which might explain why she was answering emails even while in labour
HOME S sohe is one of the most recognisable WAGS in the country, but Nadia Bartel is not one to play to all of that role’s attendant clichés. Take, for instance, the overheated portrayals of her compatriots on Network 10’s Playing For Keeps. “I actually love that show,” Bartel tells Stellar. “But it’s
not true. There’s not that much bitchiness. Everyone’s friends; I still keep in touch with the Geelong girls. We’ve got a good group. We also talk to girls from the other clubs. I just don’t see it as a reflection of real life.”
Of course, this is a primetime soap she’s talking about. But if her life is low on cattiness, it’s still often just as chaotic as what happens onscreen. Last October, the wife of Brownlow-winning, former AFL Geelong Cats star Jimmy Bartel welcomed a second son, Henley, into the family home in Melbourne’s St Kilda West. (His older brother Aston is three.) Henley’s arrival came at a busy time for Bartel – but these days, there is little else. The 33-year-old has been building an empire in recent years, with the launch of online designer clothing site The Connection, a fashion and lifestyle blog cleverly titled Chronicles of Nadia and other businesses including Spray Aus, a line of bronzing products and spray-tan salons she co-owns with fellow mega-wag Rebecca Judd. She has also tried her hand at more traditional media roles – like co-hosting the Brownlow red carpet special for the Seven Network last year.
Even in the middle of her labour, Bartel admits, she was answering emails. “I had an epidural – so I didn’t feel anything,” she explains. “So I was paying all these invoices. I wanted it done because I knew when I had the baby, that’s when you get really hectic.” And besides, she points out, “When you have your own businesses, you don’t have anyone else to do jobs for you so you have to get back to certain people and have sign-off on decisions.” Within a month, she was done with maternity leave.
Juggling two kids, Bartel says, is a “lot easier than I thought it would be” because newborn Henley actually sleeps through the night. “[Aston] is fiery; he’s stubborn. When he was a baby, he would cry nonstop,” she says. (Aston was named after 007’s car of choice, Aston Martin, because her husband is a Bond fanatic.) “He had silent reflux, so he was in a lot of pain. Henley has a more gentle personality: he sleeps better, he’s chilled. They’re little opposites, both in the way they look and in their personalities. I can put [Henley]
Keepsthe Cats (from 2002 to 2016), she became one of the first WAGS to parlay her profile into a fully fledged brand. In fact, she now admits with a rueful laugh, it may have come at the expense of enjoying the game. “I wasn’t into it when I first met [Jimmy],” says Bartel, adding that she and the other wives would “never talk about football, how many goals they’ve kicked or anything like that. I was watching Playing For
and [the dialogue] was like, ‘Babe, you had a really good game! You kicked three goals and made two tackles!’ That wasn’t something you would look at, talk about or even notice.” She says that it has only been since Jimmy’s 2016 retirement – as he now hosts morning and weekend radio and appears on footy shows – that she has been able to understand the ins and outs of the game. “I actually care about AFL more now. Those first few years, I didn’t even realise how amazing it was that they were winning these premierships and always in the finals.”
Regardless, says Bartel, the pressures of playing did not have an outsize effect on their relationship. “We’d go out late at night and have dinner, and he’d go off to training the next day. He wasn’t stuck to a schedule. You know how you’d hear about those things, like you can’t have sex the night before a game? He just wasn’t like that; he was more chilled. I still felt like he was around more than someone who had a nine-to-five job.”
Yet their lives were still under a microscope. “You’d get a lot of opinions, people coming up and loving you or hating you if [a game] didn’t go well. Strangers would come out on the street and abuse him. You had to get used to dealing with other people’s opinions of you” – and Bartel is happy those heady days have passed. “[But] there also wasn’t as much pressure,” she says. “Now you wear something [controversial] and you get attacked all over social media. When I went to the Brownlow, it was a bit different. You’d go, you’d have a bit of fun. It’s increased because there are more social media platforms, more interest, everyone is just talking about footy more. People need something to talk about.”