Esquire sits down with Miranda Kerr. The full interview and, yes, the full photoshoot.
Miranda Kerr: face of a goddess, figure of an Angel, wife of an elf.
By Miranda Collinge
In the story of Diana and Actaeon from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the young hunter Actaeon is out one day gamboling through a woodland grove, when he comes upon a shady pool in which the goddess Diana is bathing with her nymphs. Stumbling upon naked deities was frowned upon in those days, so when she realises she’s been spotted, in a fit of pique the incensed goddess turned Actaeon into a stag, whereupon he was set upon and torn apart by his own hounds. Tough break.
For some reason this story pops into my head, for the briefest of moments, when I turn off a leafy street in New York’s Meatpacking District, walk up a concrete ramp that looks like it should lead to a multi-storey car park, and hang a right through a set of large metal doors into an airy studio (seriously, if you’re ever wandering the streets of Manhattan you should take a punt on the odd industrial doorway – you never know who you might come across) and see Miranda Kerr.
The 29-year-old Australian supermodel is right in front of me, leaning back in a chair, a short silk robe falling away from her long honey-hued legs, her crossed ankles resting on the counter in front of a light-studded mirror. Around her, a group of attendant women is smiling and laughing, each of them buffing, polishing, brushing and teasing a different part of her perfect body. It’s a divine scene.
For a second, she doesn’t notice me, but I’m rumbled by the hound. Frankie, Kerr’s teacup Yorkshire terrier, trots over to say hello (or, as seems more likely later, to find out if I’ve smuggled in any bacon).
“Hello,” I say, as Kerr turns her perfect cherubic face towards me, smiling, and her eyes flash. “I’m the other Miranda.” Never has that felt more the case.
Miranda Kerr is a mere mortal, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. She’s certainly beautiful – that goes with the job description – but she has a particular kind of oh-boy gorgeousness that is devastating to guys but makes women sigh a little, too.
Sitting in front of me for our interview, her ladies-in-waiting never far away, I can see it for myself: those chipmunk cheeks and killer dimples; the wide spaced, sparkling eyes of a manga heroine (her mum nearly called her Anna May, which would have been a nice touch); a body that exudes health and vitality but also softness and sensuality, the outline of which is visible through the sheer navy blue shirt she’s wearing (nothing on underneath, but the breast pockets are strategically placed).
Since 2007, Kerr has been one of the Victoria’s Secret Angels, the bevvy of inhumanely attractive women – including Adriana Lima and Candice Swanepoel – who are employed to embody female perfection and flog high-end underwear to women who want what they’re having and men who cling to the idea that ‘if you buy it, they will come’.
In 2011, she was selected from this already exalted company to model that year’s Fantasy Treasure Bra, a $2.5million feat of engineering encrusted with 3,400 precious stones. That bit, she says, was easy enough to model, “but I tell you, what was really heavy was the clamshell” – fantasy underwear, you understand, comes with extras, in this case a bejewelled bivalve that made her resemble Botticelli’s Venus rising from the waves – “when you’ve got something like that on your back you definitely can’t glide. I felt like I was bobbing down the catwalk.”
Is it hard, I ask, having to fulfil male fantasies for a living? “No, not at all,” she says without hesitation. “We always have so much fun when we shoot and my nature’s flirtatious, so it’s second nature to me.”
And how does she decide when sexy becomes too sexy? “I don’t really think of rules, as long as it’s classy and timeless and it’s something I wouldn’t be ashamed of. I believe in celebrating the female figure and embracing what we’ve been given, not hiding that.”
Strangely enough, embracing the female figure seems to be very much on the minds of the men at Esquire’s photo shoot. Each time Kerr emerges from the dressing room between shots (sometimes after considerable gaps while she gets down to the serious business of photographing lipstick kiss-covered paper cups to put on her Instagram feed), there is an almost audible groan as the gown is dropped and the ever-smaller underwear set is revealed.
One of those present, who shall remain nameless, turns away in physical pain when she turns around to reveal the lace G-string bisecting her perfectly pert bottom.
But don’t imagine for a minute a room full of men stroking their clammy thighs while an innocent little popsie does sexy dances in front of them. There is one person in charge here, and it’s Miranda all the way. She doesn’t like a shot? The set-up is scrapped. Lights not set up to her liking? She’ll tell you how she wants them. When she decides one of the post-shoot snaps of her with a crew member goes a little too far – she’s perched on his lap like it’s Santa’s turn to get the present – it gets deleted then and there.
Once or twice she catches my eye while I’m watching these proceedings and flashes me one of those dimple-smiles. It’s a knockout – like finding yourself locked in the sights of a particularly attractive nuclear submarine. Really, she’s quite a one.
Miranda Kerr’s entry to the world was idyllic, if not particularly auspicious. “I grew up in this small country town with a population of, like, 10,000 people,” says Kerr, of Gunnedah in New South Wales, the “koala capital of Australia”, to which her parents moved from Sydney when she was a baby.
“I spent my childhood outdoors on my grandparents’ farm. I learned to ride a motorbike when I was about six, a little PeeWee 50. I’d climb trees – there was a big weeping willow. We had a flying fox [some confusion arose there: I thought she meant she had a tame bat for a pet – turned out she was talking about a zip-line]. I was so fortunate to grow up like that.”
The young Miranda enjoyed putting on performances for her parents and cousins, sometimes making her younger brother do the back-up dancing – an opportunity about which he was no doubt thrilled – and was put on the path to greatness when she won a modelling competition aged 13.
She moved back to Sydney when she finished high school, and became so self-sufficient that she was soon doing her own accounts; she spent six months in Paris, where a particularly brutal photo shoot ended up blistering her eyeballs and leaving her with patches on them for 10 days (and is part of the reason she likes to be in control now, she says); then she moved to New York at the age of 22, where she was soon booking Prada and Balenciaga shows and the covers of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.
These facts I learn from reading her book, Treasure Yourself, on the plane on the way over (which has flowers and butterflies on the cover and I recommend reading primarily if you are a 13-year-old girl; and if you are a 13-year-old girl, put this magazine down immediately before your dad sees). There are another two books in the works, and it’s just one of the extracurricular enterprises to which she’s applied herself.
Her main one, though, is running her own organic skincare brand, KORA Organics, of which she is the face but also very much the brains, and about which she will babble on proudly for ages if you give her the chance. To be fair, it is quite an impressive set-up: 21 products sold in 180 countries and the company now employs both of her parents, her brother, her uncle and her aunts: “They’re very efficient,” she says. “I wouldn’t have them working for me if they weren’t.” Somehow, you know she means it.
There are two more significant members of Team Kerr. In 2010, she married the British actor Orlando Bloom, soon to be re-inhabiting the Silvan Woodland Realm as Legolas in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Bloom, she says, endured six months of friend status before he was permitted his first kiss. “He was very persistent,” she admits.
They have a son, Flynn, born in January 2011. Flynn’s entrance into the world was more dramatic than his mother’s; at the very time Kerr was giving birth, her grandparents’ farm was hit by lightning and completely destroyed. “It struck right in the middle of her grand piano that had been in our family for generations,” says Kerr.
As far as is visible to the naked eye, the family seems to lead a perfect existence, dividing their time between Los Angeles and New York, punctuated until recently by trips to New Zealand to visit Bloom on set while he was still filming. Flynn, she says, was unfazed by seeing his dad with Legolas’s silvery locks.
“The funny thing is he doesn’t get freaked out at all when he sees Orlando with the long blond hair,” says Kerr. “He knows the voice, he knows his smell, he knows it’s his dad.” And did she freak out? “I love it!” she says, all girlish delight. “Yeah! It’s fun.”
They like to spend time at home, listening to music, with Kerr doing a bit of cooking: super healthy stuff, grilled fish and salads; even her dog, she says, enjoys a bit of wheatgrass. (During the shoot, however, Frankie spends a good deal of time lurking expectantly beneath the cold-cuts end of the buffet table.) Her recent Twitter post linking to a picture of her “downward dogging” turned out – sadly for many – to be a blurry shot of her in a yoga class.
It all helps build the picture of a clean-living, wholesome, family-oriented girl who just so happens to have a body that can make men lose their minds (and their jobs, as nearly happened in 2010 when an Australian banker whose computer screen happened to be facing cameras during a news broadcast about interest rates could be seen clicking between charts and pictures of Kerr in her smalls; she signed a petition that stopped him getting fired: “I felt sorry for the guy,” she says).
She’s aware of this, of course. Miranda Kerr knows exactly how she wants to come across, and she nails it every time, right down to her anecdotes. Of her country girl origins, she says, “I really feel that my body craves to be in the mountains or by the ocean or in the countryside. I still like to climb the odd tree.”
Really? Even now? “Yeah, it’s fun! I like to climb. I find it very rewarding. You feel like you’re going somewhere. I don’t like abseiling though. I don’t like going down. I like going up.”Sounds like a useful metaphor for life, right? “It is though! I got stuck up a tree when I was about seven, and my dad had to come and get the ladder to get me down. I loved to climb all the way up to the top. I must have been a koala in my past life.”
That’s Miranda Kerr for you: supermodel, superwoman, and one of reincarnation’s greatest triumphs. Truly a reason to believe.
By Miranda Collinge
Photographs by David Slijper