Our stun­ning cover star Lor­raine Downes takes a mo­ment away from our cam­eras to share favourite fash­ion looks, tips from her own beauty and well­ness regime and the styling ap­proach she’s taken with her Ba­li­nese-in­spired home ren­o­va­tion.


Our beau­ti­ful cover star re­veals what’s com­ing up in her big year ahead – while knock­ing our photo shoot out of the park!

Lor­raine Downes is stand­ing still as the make-up artist gives her golden-girl hair a fi­nal brush and the stylist smooths her pearles­cent blouse just so. The pho­tog­ra­pher calls out di­rec­tion for the next pose from the other end of the pa­tio, while a TV crew hov­ers ex­pec­tantly by the pool’s edge at the hired lo­ca­tion. Her style squad step­ping back, all eyes and lenses on her, she strides for­ward, flash­ing that win­ning smile.

This year is turn­ing out to be a busy one for Downes. She’s launch­ing her mem­oir, Life, Loss, Love – an hon­est retelling of her well-pub­li­cised per­sonal highs and lows, from be­ing crowned Miss Uni­verse at the age of 19 to the un­timely death of her soul­mate, Martin Crowe – while in the midst of putting the fin­ish­ing touches to her newly ren­o­vated home on Auck­land’s North Shore.

It’s surely an emo­tional time in her life – but you’d never per­ceive this on the day Sim­ply You pho­to­graphs her for the cover at an art-filled pri­vate res­i­dence the crew is call­ing home for the day. Shar­ing a laugh with her team and do­ing what­ever it takes to get the per­fect shot, she’s the com­posed cen­tre of the shoot as ev­ery­one rushes around her. At 53 and with a calm con­fi­dence, she’s a true pro­fes­sional who can out­shine any younger model.

Of course, Downes is no stranger to be­ing the fo­cus of at­ten­tion. From her di­vorce from All Black Mur­ray Mexted, with whom she has two chil­dren, to the dev­as­tat­ing loss of her sec­ond hus­band – beloved Black Caps bats­man Martin Crowe whom she cared for as his pri­mary care­giver for the four years fol­low­ing his lym­phoma di­ag­no­sis – she’s used to the pub­lic watch­ing ev­ery step. “Nat­u­rally, there are times when you don’t want to have your life shared with strangers,” she says. “But it is some­thing I have just learned to live with, and I ac­cept it for what it is.”

When you live your life in the spot­light, you need some­where to get away from it all. Fit­tingly, Downes’ new home, she re­veals, is mod­elled on a Ba­li­nese re­treat – the In­done­sian is­land cap­tured her imag­i­na­tion after she spent time there en­joy­ing the nur­tur­ing nat­u­ral land­scapes and wel­com­ing, friendly cul­ture. “It’s my spir­i­tual place,” she says. “It’s home to the kind­est, gen­tlest and most lov­ing group of hu­man be­ings I have en­coun­tered.”

Her aim with her new home was to cap­ture a serene Ba­li­nese feel through a colour pal­ette of white walls and dark floors. Nat­u­ral fab­rics and a few dé­cor pieces she picked up while over there have en­sured the house both looks and feels com­fort­able and au­then­tic.

Keep­ing the spa­ces sim­ple and avoid­ing clut­ter was key to the look, with colour then added through her art, or­na­ments

and cush­ions. An­tique and se­cond­hand stores have also helped her find unique pieces with soul, she says.

The home’s am­bi­ence has in large part been cre­ated through thought­ful light­ing, a process which saw Downes be­come a fre­quent vis­i­tor to Auck­land light­ing shop Mu­rano Plus – “It’s like be­ing in a fairy­land, that store.”

Like many Ba­li­nese dwellings, her new home has a life of its own at night, she says. “That’s when the magic hap­pens.”

White flow­ers are a favourite ac­ces­sory and green­house plants fit the trop­i­cal brief. Scent is also very im­por­tant to en­hance the sense of re­lax­ation she wishes to nur­ture. Call­ing her­self the “queen of can­dles”, Downes burns soy can­dles and is al­ways on the hunt for new dif­fusers. “I hope my vis­i­tors leave feel­ing like they have rested a lit­tle,” she says, be­fore catch­ing her­self. “There’s one ex­cep­tion to that, as my close friends know. I love turn­ing up the mu­sic and danc­ing in the evenings!”

The DJ of the Sim­ply You shoot, Downes makes sure her mu­sic keeps things rolling. With a tap of her iPhone in be­tween shots, George Ben­son’s Love X Love sin­gle from his Give Me the Night al­bum fills the room. “I have to have mu­sic in my ev­ery­day ex­is­tence,” she says. “Any­thing with a bit of soul just makes me want to dance.” Earth, Wind & Fire, Sis­ter Sledge and Chic all make the playlist. “I could not imag­ine life with­out mu­sic.”

En­er­gised by her smooth tunes, Downes turns away, off to try on the next out­fit from an en­vi­able line-up of de­sign­ers. A few min­utes later, she steps out in a mes­meris­ing Diane von Fursten­berg dress from Muse Bou­tique – vi­brant yet re­fined – ready for the cover shot.

While she’s more than happy to be draped in state­ment gold jew­ellery and strut in im­pos­si­bly high heels for Sim­ply You, she ad­mits to be­ing more of a jeans per­son for day-to-day. Downes’ favourite out­fit at the mo­ment is a pair of white frayed jeans paired with an over­sized white cot­ton shirt. She’s cur­rently cov­et­ing monochro­matic looks with a mix­ture of tex­tures. “I love nat­u­ral fab­rics against my skin,” she says. “I feel com­fort­able in a sim­ple colour­way of white, black, navy, and ev­ery now and then I will wear colour, such as fuch­sia.”

No stranger to ball gowns, the beauty queen looks as com­fort­able ly­ing on a couch in a whim­si­cal Marco & Maria dress for the pho­tog­ra­pher as she does later in her denim off-duty wear.

“Ev­ery now and then I like to wear a beau­ti­ful evening dress,” says Downes. “But my pref­er­ence is a more re­laxed way of dress­ing, such as a tai­lored jacket with jeans and sneak­ers.”

The me­dia per­son­al­ity con­sid­ers her­self very for­tu­nate to have been dressed by her favourite de­sign­ers, in­clud­ing Yvonne Ben­netti, through­out her ca­reer. How­ever, her all-time favourite dress was her aqua blue wed­ding dress by Jane Yeh, which she wore to marry Crowe.

For ev­ery­day wear, Downes is a loyal Coun­try Road shop­per, while for jew­ellery she likes to go to Silk & Steel. Asked what she has bought re­cently, she men­tions her but­tery-soft, black hand­bag – her first from Deadly Ponies.

Lean­ing back in a smooth-to-stroke vel­vet arm­chair from Stu­dio Italia dur­ing the photo shoot, she looks the pic­ture of con­tent­ment and ease. Hold­ing this par­tic­u­lar pose for more than an hour, how­ever, is much more gru­elling than it looks.

A life mem­ber of Les Mills (“since 1983!”), Downes has a stamina that be­lies her slight fig­ure. Her work­out regime con­sists of a walk for 45 min­utes most days, and a weekly yoga ses­sion and spin class. After her walks, she tries to fit in a few sit-ups and push-ups.

Hooked on the Ar­gen­tinian tango since her win­ning turn on

New Zealand’s Danc­ing with the Stars in 2006, she also dances once a week. Last year, she even went to Buenos Aires and spent three weeks study­ing the tango. “I love it be­cause it is a dance which is age­less and you don’t have to have a part­ner. You can dance tango any­where in the world.”

Hav­ing owned mod­el­ling agency Care of Lor­raine Mod­els, and worked as a style and im­age con­sul­tant, Downes is a firm be­liever in the power of ap­pear­ance. “It speaks be­fore you have said your first word.” How­ever, she’s not wor­ried about age­ing. “I think the most im­por­tant thing is to find your peace about age­ing. Don’t fear it; ac­cept it and en­joy life be­cause some don’t get that op­por­tu­nity.”

Her se­crets to age­ing grace­fully are at one with a healthy lifestyle – hy­dra­tion, sleep, stress man­age­ment, ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly and eat­ing well. And if all else fails: “Laugh­ter and hav­ing great girl­friends is the best way to nav­i­gate most things.”

Marco & Maria dress, $5998, from Modes.

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