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Date with Kate, Fashion & Beauty

Date with Kate: Jessica Kahawaty

4th June, 2017

Jessica Kahawaty and I at Catalina Rose Bay

Jessica Kahawaty was born and raised in Sydney and now lives in Dubai, where she is a model and was the host of Arabic TV show Project Runway Middle East, season one. She won Miss World Australia in 2012, has worked with luxury brands including Louis Vuitton and Rolls-Royce and has more than 300,000 followers on Instagram. Kahawaty, 28, talks to me about her rise to fame, her biggest  “pinch me” moment and what most people find surprising about her.

You grew up in Sydney. How would you describe your childhood?

I had a great childhood growing up in Castle Hill. I absolutely loved the suburbs because they were so relaxing and I went to a great school as well not too far. My parents always encouraged us to travel and practice the languages we speak so we found ourselves in Europe and Beirut a lot during our summer holidays.

You have such a striking look. What is your heritage?

My mother is olive skinned and has very light green eyes and brown hair. She is Lebanese. My father has white skin and black hair – his ancestors are a mix of Armenian, Lebanese and Syrian. A bit of a cocktail [mix]!

How did you get into modeling?

I started modeling when I was 14. My mother was a model and was rehearsing for a show when I got scouted. I had to stop for a few years because I had a very awkward period with braces and bad skin [laughs], then [I] started again at 18.

Jessica modeling pool vibes with @VogueArabia x @ToryBurch Captured by @MazenAbuSrour. Photo: @ jessicakahawaty

What did it mean to be crowned Miss World Australia in 2012 and how did winning impact your career?

I always saw Miss Australia’s role as an ambassador to her country as well as a spokesperson for regional and international philanthropic causes. I loved that their aim was always to choose someone well rounded who can speak and bring light issues that matter. It definitely impacted my career positively but the title lasts for a year so it definitely took a lot of hard work and perseverance to have a long lasting career [after].

You were born and raised in Sydney but have become a superstar in the Middle East, how did that come about?

News travels fast! The Middle East was very embracing of the fact that an Australian girl with part of her heritage being from there had won Miss Australia and was a runner up in Miss World. They were so proud of that fact and it was an opportunity for me to bridge a gap between East and West. I was pretty lucky that I spoke Arabic and English and was able to translate all my experience and upbringing into the Arabic culture and vice versa without a language barrier. I found Dubai to be such an amazing base for all the things I wanted to do in the Middle East, Paris, London and New York.

What was it like to land the prime-time role as host of Project Runway Middle East?

I had always looked up to Heidi Klum as a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur who was one of the first to combine the modeling, TV and fashion worlds together. The show was another point in my career that I am so proud of doing especially considering Arabic isn’t my first language and I had no TV experience at all. It was an incredible experience to have the likes of Carine Roitfeld, Toni Garrn, Milla Jovovich and many other international guests on the show and to hear their perspectives on emerging Middle Eastern talents.

Jessica in her first 6-page editorial in @voguearabia featuring empowering women, wearing @toryburch. Photo: @jessicakahawaty

How did that impact your career?

Television presents immense exposure and is such a traditional form of media that takes you into the living room and private spaces of people and families. Becoming a household name definitely presents new opportunities, as well as challenges!

How is life different in the Middle East?

Life is so dynamic and fast-paced there; I barely have [any] time to myself. There’s always something going on and Dubai is a melting pot for a lot of expats, tourists and visitors. There’s a lot more travel (almost every 2 weeks) and the activities differ a little from Sydney… You spend a lot of time outdoors in Australia whereas in Dubai it’s 50/50…

You’ve been touted as Dubai’s ‘It Girl’. What is that like?

It’s an honour every time I hear that. I think it’s just really important to present whatever country or region you are in, in the best light possible. I love that I was able to put a mark specifically in Dubai.

What are some of the perks of being a superstar in a place like Dubai?

I love flying in and out of Dubai… I’ve been to the most picturesque British countryside with Rolls-Royce but also experienced the hub of London with other brands. I’ve seen Paris during fashion week but I’ve also shot in a forest and on the side of lakes outside of Paris.

What has been your biggest “pinch-me” moment?

This would definitely be riding a bike with IWC watches for the Laureus event in the South of France with Olympic champions and athletes like Nico Rosberg, Fabian Cancellara and many others. We rode from Monaco to France and ended in Italy. The pinch-me part was the company I was with and the fact that I had never ridden a bike before (super overprotective parents who thought I was too clumsy [laughs] and [I] managed to cross borders!

What’s it like being recognised everywhere you go in the Middle East?

… It’s humbling and grounding when they come up with such loving words especially when it’s from young girls.

What’s the most exciting campaign you have ever worked on?

There have been so many. I loved the mini IWC campaign earlier this year with Lewis Hamilton. I also loved the cover shoot I recently shot for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia in the desert. The most exciting and memorable I would say is shooting a campaign with Oscar winner Adrien Brody in Abu Dhabi where I was chasing the guy who stole his suitcase in a Rolls-Royce!

You are a superstar in the Middle East, yet you remain largely unknown in your home country. What is that like?

I put so much focus overseas in Europe and the Middle East in the last three years to create so much value to bring home. Geographically, Australia is quite far and you have to be physically present here. This is why I am aiming to spend a bit more time in Australia whilst continuing all my endeavours overseas.

What did you miss most about home?

I definitely miss the nature, people and food! All my close friends and family are in Australia and I love the outdoors so I miss the beach, the beautiful sky and definitely the best food in the world!

Do you have plans to spend more time here?

Definitely! I was coming back two to three times a year just to visit my family and friends – no work, just downtime. But I’m aiming to try and come back every three to four months – also for some chill time but to work with some of my favourite brands here.

You have a finance and law degree – is that helpful for the work you do?

I specialised in Human Rights Law and all the subjects I ever studied revolved around humans and international rights. I love that aspect of the law and I feel like it translates into the charity work I do. It’s definitely a great complement to the industry that I am in.

What human rights issues are you most passionate about?

We all have a soft spot for something. For me, it’s children’s rights and displaced children with no access to education. If only we can provide this basic human right and need to millions, we would be able to pave a golden path for the next generation.

You speak English, Arabic and French fluently; did you grow up being multilingual?

My parents sent us to a French school in Australia for a few years where we spoke English in the playground and Arabic at home! It wasn’t easy but they wanted us to be fluent so they refused to speak to us in any other language inside the house. Traveling abroad every year also helped because you were forced to speak the local language. I’m currently learning Italian and find that I improve drastically when I travel to Rome for work.

What do you do for fun?

We go out on the boat a lot in Dubai or I spend time with my friends at the beach or doing some sort of activity like wakeboarding. I like watching TV series and movies so we’ll do that as well if it’s too hot to go outside.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I definitely see myself doing what I’m doing on an even bigger scale and creating a platform that can help bridge this industry together (it’s all I can say for now). I would also love to have a family of my own. I’m very close to my parents and would love to have that relationship with my children.

What is something people would find surprising to know about you?

I have never tried coffee in my life! In an industry that’s so fast-paced and extremely long working hours as well as international flights, people are usually shocked as to how I am full of energy. I would like to try it one day though as I’m usually left out when all my girlfriends are drinking coffee and I’m slowly sipping a juice.

BITESIZE

We went to Catalina Rosebay

We ate Pan fried snapper, garlic potato mash and lemon caper butter; Kumara tortellini, pine nuts and sage beurre noisette; Rocket and parmesan salad.

We drank Mineral water

Jessica wore Celine top and pants from David Jones.

Photography by Louise Kennerley

Fashion, Shop

Steal her style: Gigi Hadid

2nd December, 2016

A photo posted by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid) on

This party season why not try an after dark look a la Gigi Hadid. Whilst Hadid’s Roberto Cavalli coat might not be quite right for a warm Australian summer you can do your own take on it with a lightweight duster coat. A little black slip dress teamed with a flowing coat adds a touch of drama to an otherwise simple look. Add a pair of strappy stilettos and you have yourself a sexy evening ensemble that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Duster coat

A neutral coat can be worn in the evening however you can also take it down a notch into daywear by teaming it with a pair of jeans or a dress and sneakers.

Slip dress

The slip dress is the ultimate nod to the ’90s trend. Consider it a key addition to your summer wardrobe – it’s sleek, simple and so versatile.

Heels

A pair of black strappy stilettos will keep you party ready this festive season. They’re an easy go-to when you want to make a statement without overpowering the rest of your outfit.

Top handle bag

Hadid has kept her bag quite practical however if you wanted to swap it out for a simple clutch you could easily transform the look into something spot on for the evening.

Fashion, Shop

Steal her style: Coco Rocha

7th October, 2016

A photo posted by Coco Rocha (@cocorocha) on

Model Coco Rocha has covered virtually every major magazine in existence including Vogue, Elle, Allure, Glamour, Marie Claire and i-D. She has walked for Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs and Emanuel Ungaro and fronted campaigns for Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin and Yves Saint Laurent. Her style has always been chameleonic going from colourful and quirky one minute to monochromatic and polished the next, however her looks are always strong and make a statement. If ever there was a reason to embrace a bold coloured dress, this is it…

Fuchsia dress

A hot pink dress is certainly not one for the faint-hearted but Rocha manages to pull it off and make it look chic. A tip: if you’re going to rock a bright, form fitting dress, keep it looking demure by going for one with a knee length hemline.

Peep toe booties

Pink and black has always been a winning combination and in this instance it helps to ground the showstopping nature of the dress. Plus you’re guaranteed to get plenty of wear out of black booties as they will work with virtually everything in your wardrobe.

Fashion, Shop

Steal her style: Jessica Hart

26th August, 2016

With spring just around the corner I thought it was an opportune time for a little wardrobe inspiration for the warmer weather that’s to come. In typical model fashion Aussie Jessica Hart’s off duty style is one worth coveting. Her ability to be a style chameleon and mix it up between edgy looks one minute and feminine, girly ensembles the next, make her wardrobe one definitely worth watching. Her look below is a perfect option for those gorgeous spring days up ahead…

Off the shoulder top

If there’s one silhouette that’s going to remain a constant this spring/summer season it’s definitely the off the shoulder top. And really, what’s not to love about it? It highlights one of the most flattering areas of a woman’s body, comes in a variety of different cuts and styles and has a distinctly relaxed resort vibe that make it perfectly on trend.

Midi skirt

The denim skirt made a comeback last spring/summer and it seems it’s going to quickly become a style staple. Try a midi skirt in a chambray for a slightly different take on the look. A fluted cut gives it a fun retro spin.

Tan sandals

Every girl needs to add a pair of tan sandals to her wardrobe. The versatile shade will mean it will work back with virtually everything in your wardrobe so it’s a no-brainer during the warmer months.

Neutral bag

Once the weather heats up sometimes darker hued bags can look a little harsh so why not consider switching up your bag for something in a neutral colour? A beige or cream bag looks fresh and as an added bonus can be paired with myriad outfits.

Sunglasses

A pair of oversized dark sunglasses is still very much a necessity in every girl’s accessories arsenal. Invest in just the right pair and it will see you through many seasons to come.

Date with Kate, Fashion & Beauty

DATE WITH KATE: ELYSE TAYLOR

17th April, 2016

Australian model Elyse Taylor was discovered at 18 and went on to walk for Victoria’s Secret, Dolce & Gabbana and Tommy Hilfiger and has been on the cover of Australian Vogue. The 29-year old, born in Sydney and based in the United States, is now the face of Nude by Nature make-up and involved with Milea swimwear. Taylor chats to me about life, juggling motherhood and modelling, and her quirky cleaning habits.

What’s a day in the life of you when you’re at home in the US?

If I have a day off, I have breakfast with Lila and then I walk her to school, with my neighbour. Our kids are the same age and go to same school. While she is at school, we go to the gym, work out and pick her up and have lunch, and then have enough time with her and just hang out. But then if I’m working, I’m up at five [o’clock] and gone. So it’s constantly changing but it’s good.

How do you juggle it all?

I’ve learnt to be a little bit more aggressive. I’ve had to say no to certain jobs, just because they’ve been back to back. I don’t really want to spend more than four or five days away from my daughter because she is just growing and doing so many things and you don’t want to miss anything. I start getting a little strange after five days. I get really anxious and hostile. So I just try and make sure that I have enough time off and enough time on.

What do you enjoy most about motherhood?

Just the milestones and watching her and seeing her personality come through because she is two now.

Do you have plans to grow your family?

I would definitely love to have more children. It’s just trying to find the right time. If it happens, it happens. It would be wonderful. But we’re just taking it one step at a time.

What’s next for you?

I have this amazing relationship with Nude By Nature, and Milea is about to launch … And then, I think I was planning on coming back for Australian Fashion Week in May.

What made you get involved and become the face of Nude By Nature

I think it was just like a natural alignment. Nude By Nature had a worldwide search for a face that was an Australian kind of beauty. When I got the call saying “it’s you”, I was so humbled and honoured.

What’s your top beauty secret you’ve learnt while modelling?

If you’re doing smoky eye, you put your foundation on afterwards … and with highlighting, just highlight the bridge of your nose and cheekbones.

Out of everything in your life, what are you most proud of? 

In life, I feel like I’m most proud of Lila, but my career probably has been over 10 years now. As a model, you never think it’s going to last that long.

When you did the Victoria’s Secret show, what was the most surprising part about that?

The grandeur of the show. You don’t realise how big it is, and how big the machine is behind it. I was also surprised at how it is like a little family – doing the catalogue, doing the commercials and then doing the show. I still keep in contact with the girls.

What’s the worst part about your job?

That it’s not forever. That’s always in the back of your mind, especially as I get older!

What’s your plan after modelling? 

There is no set plan. I would like to keep building my brands and keep moving forward and seeing where that takes us. There’s definitely a lot of opportunities, especially in the States. So it’s just trying to find the right outlet for that.

If you didn’t become a model, what would you have done? 

I like to be creative. So I think I would like to stay within the industry, but maybe in art direction or maybe on the other side of the lens. I would still like to create content for brands and stuff like that, so that’s very natural for me. I enjoy that.

Do you think Lila will follow in your footsteps?

I don’t know. If she wants to, and if she is passionate about it, I’ll support her in her work. I’d love her to have a real job, one that lasts forever. But if she is passionate about this, then, of course I’ll support her and direct her in the right direction.

Who do you look up to and admire?

I look up to other women that have children with really intense careers. Especially how they find the balance to make it all work and have success after having children as well. You don’t realise how intense and what a whirlwind it is having children and then how much you are actually taking on.

Do you have any quirky habits that no one knows about?

I really am OCD about cleanliness … I clean all the time. I can’t stop. With my nanny’s cleaning, I’ll clean over the top of her cleaning and she is like, ‘is something wrong?’ I’m like, ‘Just go find, Lila. I have to finish this’.

Do you have any fears?

I don’t really like heights … I climbed the Harbour Bridge and I was dying inside.

Where is your favourite travel destination?

My favourite personal travel destination is St Barths, especially with my daughter. It’s a quiet place, to just be with the family, be on the beach. We know the island really well so there is no surprises, which is always great, especially when you have a kid.

How do you stay in shape?

I work out and I try a lot of different diets, and a blood-type diet works best for me.

What is a blood-type diet?

Each blood type is different. I’m an O blood type, so I can have lots of meats and certain kinds of fruits. I can eat as much of that as possible and not gain weight, which is great … because before I was juicing and eating all these types of salads but I was holding all this body weight. Then, once I started that, all the weight came off, all the extra baby weight.

If you have this strict diet regime, what is your biggest indulgence?

Pizza. If I’m in Australia, I like seafood pizzas. And then, if I’m in the States, macaroni – because I try and think of like the worst possible thing I could eat after a week’s rigid diet.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

I guess I see myself just keep working and keep planning for the future and keep building on what we’ve already been building; constantly working with different brands and just trying to diversify myself as much as possible. There’s definitely things in the States with [talent agencies] WME and IMG combining, so there is a lot more film and television options that weren’t available before, which is exciting.

 

BITE SIZE

WE WENT TO  Bistro Moncur, Woollahra

WE ATE vine ripened tomato salad; salad of beetroot, balsamic glazed heirloom carrot, goats curd and hazelnuts; buffalo mozzarella, figs, witlof, basil and vino cotto; pan fried barramundi fillet with mashed peas, crème fraiche and confit spring onion, sunflower seed and caper beurre noisette.

ELYSE WORE Isabel Marant top and Levi’s.

KATE WORE Bec and Bridge dress .

Fashion

Celeb look of the week: Karlie Kloss

4th September, 2015

karlie_kloss_vogue_4june15_getty_592x888

There are times where the simplest outfits are the best – and this is one of them. Karlie Kloss looks effortlessly chic in plain black pants, ballet flats and a grey polo neck. Sometimes you just don’t want to overthink things and step out in something classic and pared back.

Photography: Vogue UK