The first time I ever met Karlie Kloss was last year at an event—she was making her way down the red carpet, graciously stopping, smiling and shaking hands with each journalist eagerly lined up to nab a sound bite from the two minutes we had with the statuesque model. I ask her a question I’ve asked several other celebrities: “How do you balance it all?”
I often expect the same answer: They find time for exercise, sleep, healthy food and socialising to maintain a sort of internal homoeostasis. But Karlie’s answer instantly threw me for a loop: “After dinner tonight, I will be at my kitchen table writing a paper. I have a huge paper due tomorrow, so that’ll be fun. It’s for a writing class. But like every woman, I multitask and make it work.”
I knew Kloss was attending NYU, but it didn’t even cross my mind that after posing for photographers in a couture gown while representing a billion-dollar cosmetic company, she’d have to go home and type up a term paper. She may have likened herself to “every woman,” but Kloss’s schedule is certainly in the minority.
Recently, I got to speak with the supermodel once again, this time because she’s the new face of Carolina Herrera’s latest fragrance, Good Girl (£53). It seems to be a fitting campaign for Kloss, given her inherently good nature: Her gluten-free vegan cookie line, Klossies, donates proceeds to FEED Projects, a company that helps bring meals to children in need, and her summer camp, Kode with Klossy, is a free two-week program that teaches girls aged 13 to 18 how to build apps and code. But this is all my own perception, of course, so I ask Kloss what she thinks constitutes being a good girl.
“It’s someone who has a duality to her—she is not one-dimensional. For me, I always strive to be professional, to work hard and to learn something new every day. But at the same time, I also like to have fun, to live my life and have a sense of humour about everything. Being a good girl doesn’t mean you have to be boring. It’s been really special to work with Mrs. Herrera and her team on a project that is now six years in the making. I resonated with the character of the Good Girl and her dynamic approach to all aspects of life: her career, hobbies, personal life and everything she gracefully balances. Mrs. Herrera and her daughters are brilliant, beautiful and empowered women who embody the spirit of Good Girl—I’m inspired by their powerful femininity and honoured to help bring the Good Girl to life. The fragrance is exactly what it symbolises: sweet white floral notes with an undertone of spice and mystery—a good girl gone bad.”
With each passing minute of our conversation, Kloss speaks eloquently and passionately about her career, her life and her health, leaning in with her forearms on her thighs, hands clasped together, speaking in a quiet, whisper-like tone, like we’re sharing a secret with one another (despite the fact that there are publicists, photographers and assistants within earshot of us). She’s so mature, in fact, that I forget she’s just 24 years old—two years my junior. What I discover in our time together is her thirst for learning, her desire to help people, and her simple approach to leading a happy, balanced life. Read on for more with Karlie.
Karlie Kloss: “This job is one that requires a lot of hard work, a lot of travel, a lot of time by yourself on an airplane [or] in a hotel. You have to be really strong, you have to be really independent and you have to have endurance. You know, I’ve been doing this for 10 years, which is pretty crazy to think because I’m just now 24, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve learned so much and become so much stronger because of the challenges that I’ve faced building a career at an early age and learning an industry from the ground up.
“My beauty look is always evolving. What’s great about beauty is that you can take risks and be very experimental because your hair grows back and you can always change up your look at the end of the day.
“[If I could be anything other than a model, I'd be] Karlie Kloss, MD, like my dad—he’s a doctor. I wish I were an astronaut. There are so many things I would add [after my name]. So far, I have student and aspiring computer engineer. Learning to code is something I’m very, very adamant about, and I love to encourage other girls to get into computer science. I think it’s such an empowering skill set—you really can do so much with this knowledge of understanding how to build something. It can be a really creative skill set as well, so that’s one thing I’m really excited about—working with girls who have been a part of my program and many more girls who we hope to include going forward. You know, you can work in fashion or have a passion for fashion or art and also be even more set up for success when pairing that creativity with the kind of technical problem solving that coding is.
“I definitely would like to think of myself as an entrepreneur. I think it’s a mind-set, you know? It’s a mindset of thinking outside the box. I very much love the idea of being a philanthropist, but more than anything else, I just like to help people. I feel really, really lucky in my life, so I like to share opportunities with others because I’m fortunate to be in the position to do that.
“My favourite credential is being a student. I love to learn. I think that my whole life, even long after I hopefully someday graduate from NYU—because I’m just a part-time student, I’m slowly working my way—but I think a student of life is something that I’m very proud to be, and I hope that I always have that kind of curiosity.”
“What I’ve definitely learned as a girl, and then as a woman, is that there’s constantly a relationship with your own body. It’s a relationship with learning what works for you, and for me. I’ve been a model for almost 10 years, and so in that time, my body grows and changes and I have to learn how to take care of myself.
“When I first started modelling, I ate Snickers bars for breakfast, lunch and dinner—I didn’t know about nutrition, or really, I always just had a super-fast metabolism. But also, because my body was maturing and growing up, I had to learn how to eat a more balanced diet. And I really learned and got excited about baking and cooking with healthy ingredients, fresh ingredients, a more balanced diet of vegetables and protein and learning what it means to actually eat clean. In doing so, I not only feel better in my body and more confident in my body, but I also have so much more energy. That has been a whole other education.
“I’m big on drinking lots of water. I don’t drink coffee after 3 p.m. because I really try and sleep. Sleep is another thing—I feel like my mom harping on a balanced diet and sleep and water—it’s so true! The answers are actually so easy, but it’s more just the self-discipline of sticking to them. I really like to eat a lot of fish. I love to eat a lot of vegetables, and I love a good protein shake after a workout. I don’t eat meat, so protein and just getting the right nutrients is key. That, and trying to eliminate as much stress from my life as possible.”
“I always love to indulge in a really great facial, probably two days before an event—I especially want to make sure I have time to heal. I really love to do even just an at-home mask. If I’m going to a red carpet and I don’t have time to get a facial, I love to exfoliate and do a mask to really hydrate my skin. I’m a big fan of the under-eye patches, too.
“I think all of us in our day-to-day lives, you know, we are all constantly on—we are all constantly connected through email, through social media, through the news. I think my schedule happens to be especially demanding with travel and all the things I have going on, but I think we all face this. I think taking time to detach… For me that’s key, you know? Really making time to take care of myself, to exercise, is ironically relaxing to me because it actually allows me to kind of just have a natural release of endorphins and release of stress. I really like to meditate. I’m not really good about routine because my days are always so different, so I have this app called Headspace, and I love to just plug my headphones in. And in 10 minutes, if I’m in the car or if I’m going to class or work or wherever I’m going, I just need 10 minutes in the morning to kind of totally chill out and get centred and get focused for the day.
“I have an amazing makeup artist—his name is Hung Vanngo, and he is the master of all brows. He helped me create this shape today, but I learned early on not to overpluck them—I think that’s one thing a lot of people really make a mistake with.
“I love this trend, or at least over the last few years, it really came into a trend, this healthy brow, and so I definitely appreciate every hair and try not to overpluck them. But I love a good, really thin brow pencil, or a really, really, really tiny brush, like a liquid pen but very natural and matching it to your skin colour. So if you have a great arch where you have patches, where you want it to be more full, or if your brow is too short and you want to kind of extend it, you can use really anything.
“If you use a pencil, you want it to be really sharp because, essentially, you want to just draw in the hairs and also use something with a brush on the other end, which I learned the name of is actually a spoolie. What a great word. But I think it’s such an important feature—even if you’re not wearing a ton of foundation or concealer or a smoky eye or a red lip, a strong brow goes a long way.”