GAME

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

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - Photograph­y CAMERON GRAYSON Styling IRENE TSOLAKAS In­ter­view NA­DIA SALEMME

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.”

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