I, Karlie: The World’s Oldest 20-Year-Old Opens Up
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture of Karlie Kloss might be worth two thousand. When you add up the countless shots she’s been in all over the world—and especially now, in a banner year that’s included covers for W and British Vogue—the count gets dizzying. Kloss has earned her spot as one of the world’s top supermodels. In short, she’s kicking ass. Fittingly, she’s the face of Juicy Couture’s new Fall 2012 ad campaign and accompanying video, debuting exclusively here on Style.com (below), lensed by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, which has #Girls Kick Ass its slogan (the brand has partnered with Step Up Women’s Network, which empowers teen girls). Kloss, who has just turned 20, is recently back from a family vacation in Denmark and says she’s ready to start a new phase of her life. Style.com spoke with Kloss about putting models back on magazine covers, texting with Ryan Lochte, and the best piece Lee McQueen gave her.
You just got back from vacation and celebrating your 20th birthday. How was that?
Yes, I was in Europe for the last few weeks. Yesterday, I was in Hamburg, where I was visiting my friend Toni Garrn for a few days. Since she is originally from there, we spent time in her hometown and it was so nice to travel somewhere without obligations—no working. Before that I was in Denmark; I flew my entire family over for ten days and I got to meet all these family members for the first time because we are originally from Denmark. The food there is just amazing—my family would put out a smorgasbord of food and the entire trip I just sat and ate. For my birthday, we went to the Tivoli Gardens—it’s like an amusement park plus really old, beautiful gardens—and then I rented a little convertible with my sisters, the whole Kloss clan, and drove across the country.
Happy belated birthday! Do you feel different as a twentysomething than as a teenager?
I do, I have to admit. It feels like a new chapter—a new phase of my new life. I feel so old; I feel like the oldest 20-year-old around.
You’ve been famous for almost all of your teenage years—that could help explain why. Do you think you’ve missed out on any of the normal teenage experiences?
I think it’s the opposite; it’s that I was lucky enough to balance the normal teen things and then also this high fashion career. I have gotten to travel the world and experience all these incredible things thanks to my career. I feel like in the last five years, I have lived five lifetimes—I have fit a lot in my 20 years, that’s for sure. I feel like this is a whole new phase and I am really looking forward to the next five years. In the last five years, quite a lot has happened.
I know you share a birthday with a few other big names, including Ryan Lochte, whom you worked with on a recent Vogue shoot. Did you guys wish each other happy birthday?
Yeah, August 3 is a very good day. It’s funny, actually, because I was supposed to go to London to watch him in the Olympics, but I didn’t make it, so I was rooting for him—and all of the Olympians I met on the shoot—from Denmark. I was texting with Ryan, though—such a sweet guy. We Leos are crazy!
What was your first meeting with him like?
It was in Miami, where we did the shoot, and we went out to dinner one night. Even though I am 20 and already have a career, I realize it is important to have normal friends and I think he is the same way. He is just a normal guy. He was really interested in fashion, actually; he wants to have his own line. I was surprised by how in the know he was. Actually, all the guys on the shoot were very in touch with what is happening on the runways and very big fans of Style.com.
Maybe you can help Ryan out with his line when the time comes?
Yeah, I will walk in his show for sure.
You’ve just shot the Juicy Couture ad campaign and video with Inez and Vinoodh. Tell me about that.
I just saw the final version of the video today. I saw a rough cut of it a while ago and that song [LL Cool J's "Going Back to Cali"] has been stuck in my head for weeks! It is so perfect for the video. It was so fun to shoot it. I am very excited for it to launch and for everyone to see it. When you shoot a campaign or editorial, you create stills and images and that can inspire, but now there is also a video component to things—a picture isn’t enough anymore. It adds a whole new element to my job. I was kicking butts left and right. I did the video with all these big, strong stuntmen. They were very intimidating and they took it very seriously because you can get hurt so easily. It is great editing because it looks like I really am kicking their butts.
With these videos, you get to be an actress as well as a model. Any thoughts of going into acting more seriously?
An actress? Maybe. I guess I have to listen to the song again and move to Cali!
As a model, you get some nice perks, like when designers give you clothes or shoes. Do you have any favorites that you have received over the years?
Definitely. When I did my first campaign with John Galliano, he gave me a gorgeous leather Dior bag. It’s beautiful and something I will pass on to my daughter someday. I have to say, she will inherit some seriously great bags and shoes one day! I also have a Chanel bag from Karl that is very special. I have a huge closet, thank God, and I was actually looking at old pieces today that I haven’t ever worn. I have some very special McQueen dresses and shoes that were a gift from Lee. These pieces are about so much more than the materialist value; they remind me of great moments in my career and working with such fantastic designers.
With these McQueen pieces, do you have any particular stories to go with them?
Yes, there was a season that I was in the campaign for McQueen, and they took a photo from the runway show. I remember that was maybe one before his last collection and I had this big red dress (pictured, left) and thought I would fall flat on my face. I was always terrified before any McQueen show and would think to myself, “If I can just get through this show, I will be OK.” Right before I went out, I asked Lee what to do if my dress got caught in my shoe and he said, “You know what, if it does, just throw your shoe. You own the dress, the dress does not own you.” The dress did end up getting caught on my shoe and like he told me to, I stopped and adjusted it in the middle of the runway. At that moment, I thought, “My career is over, I am going back to school, forget it.” Lo and behold, that became the campaign photo and he sent me this beautiful bag, and it always reminds of him and that time. I still think about the advice he gave me.
Fashion week is around the corner. Will you be walking in all the cities this time?
I just looked at the calendar and dates today; I can’t believe how soon it is! Yes, I am going to do it all. New York is my favorite, though—I’m American, after all. It is always so much fun because of the energy in this city. There’s always such a buildup. I get to wake up in my own bed and go to a show and come home for lunch. There is something so special about it all.
You have had quite a year. What’s left for Karlie Kloss to do? What are you still aspiring to?
I have a notebook that is filled to the brim with my dreams and ideas and goals and aspirations. I am 20 and I do feel really old, but I also have so much time ahead. I want to do it all; I want to cross every single thing off my list and I plan on it. While I was in Europe, I faxed the contract for my new home. I have been on the hunt for finding my dream home in the past year, and now I have bought my first home. This is a new phase of my life and my job. I am going to cross everything on that list; I just don’t know where to start. This Juicy one was an exciting part, though—the video and campaign spread a very cool message that girls kick butt, we have so much power. This video is sort of a reminder that you can do anything you want if you work hard and set your mind to it.