The salt-of-the-earth fashion model and our summer cover star believes beauty comes with confidence, and time.
“Fun is my everything,”
says Carrie Berkey, our cover star with the infectious smile. “I truly think the key to beauty is being happy.”
The 47-year-old mother of five says although she feels amazing in the here and now, it’s taken her a while to feel comfortable in her own skin.
Carrie has been modelling since she was scouted in her home town of Beavercreek, Ohio, at the age of 18. “I sometimes wish to go back in time and take the confidence I have now and see what that would be like,” she says. “I’m happier and at peace with myself and it’s an awesome feeling. I feel you can do anything better when you feel amazing.”
A tomboy when she began her career, Carrie still found her footing in the fashion industry, working in the fashion capitals of New York, Milan and Paris and beyond, for leading brands including Chanel, Missoni and Ralph Lauren. Giorgio Armani, however, was her favourite designer to work with: “I spent a lot of time with him… he spoilt me!”
While modelling around the world, alongside top models, actors and musicians, was an intense experience, Carrie says it was also liberating. “I felt free and enjoyed meeting new people and travelling,” she says. “I felt grateful for every job and experience I had.”
The model knew she’d made it when she walked down the street in her adopted city of New York one day and saw her face on almost every magazine on the news stands, not to mention the billboards behind. Another breakthrough moment came at a Super Bowl viewing party, where her campaign for Oscar de la Renta perfume was launched in an ad break during the game, the most-watched US sports event of the year. “That was an amazing experience,” she reflects. “I hadn’t told anyone, and after it played it was fun to hear everyone’s responses!”
Eleven years ago, Carrie moved to Wanaka with her family. Two of her children, Lucy (19) and Ben (18), are now
away at university and she lives with her three youngest, Bridget (16), Henry (13) and Josie (11), who share their modern property on the hills of Mt Barker with a horse, sheep, two dogs, a cat, a bird, fish and a black lop bunny.
Carrie is living the resort-town dream, hiking, biking, snowboarding, waterskiing, wakesurfing, playing basketball, and boating with her children. Most of these activities are literally in her backyard, or just beyond. Her home, overlooking the town and lake, includes a pool, basketball court, slackline, and a volleyball and netball set-up. When it’s time for rest, the home is as cosy as you’d expect, complete with woollen throws and pillows from the Wilson & Dorset boutique down the road.
It hasn’t been all high-fashion and small-town sweetness for Carrie, though. She’s been through a divorce and a broken neck. She’s also been the support for her children, one of whom has overcome cancer. “Being a mother has had its ups and downs, but my kids have shaped me into a better person. Because of them, I’ve realised I needed to dig deeper and do better for their sake,” she says. “These lifetesting moments have made me stronger.”
While her home is far from the world’s fashion capitals, Carrie loves working in New Zealand, even helping to put on local fashion shows, and is often flown about for work through her agency, Unique.
When she’s not on set or poolside with Simply You, the model’s off-duty style is casual and comfortable – her favourite label is merino-made Mons Royale.
After almost 30 years of making designer garments look their best, Carrie has learnt that the secret to looking good in her own clothes is to keep things easy. “I feel sexy in simple, sleek clothing – not too much makeup, but an amazing perfume.”
Carrie’s beauty regime is equally downto-earth. “I try and get plenty of rest, exercise and drink lots of water,” she says.
The model’s new mantra to help her succeed is: “I am strong, I am beautiful and I can do anything.” We think it’s working.
“Being a mother has had its ups and downs, but my kids have shaped me into a better person.”
Dress, $895, by Yvonne Bennetti. Earrings, $44,100, and ring, $37,500, by Partridge Jewellers. Patterned pool tiles, from Middle Earth Tiles.
From the archives: Simply You cover star Carrie Berkey shares some of her modelling work from New York in the 1990s.