‘Body, breasts, social life, style’ is how one fashion bible sums up model – and now designer – Daisy Lowe. Liz Jones meets the 22-year-old as she launches her classic pin-up swimwear collection – and declares that womanly shapes are back in vogue.
When I arrive at the swanky, high-tech, impossibly white and cubist studios of fashion photographer Rankin in North London to meet Daisy Lowe, I first of all bump into her mum, former singer Pearl. While Daisy is here to model her new range of swimwear for high-street chain Peacocks – her first foray into designing – Pearl has, for a few seasons now, been creating vintage-inspired tea dresses for the brand. We last met a year ago at the launch of her 2010 spring collection, when we’d had dinner at Limewood, a serene and luxurious hotel in the middle of the New Forest. Despite the setting, Pearl had seemed tired and stressed, and today I remark, as we watch Daisy getting ready for her close-up in make-up, that she looks wonderful.
‘Well,’ says Pearl, ‘this is partly due to the fact I’ve just had eyelash extensions at Urban Retreat in Harrods.’ She flutters them at me, and I exclaim at how thick and long they are. ‘But also, when we last met, I had just lost a baby,’ she tells me. I say I am so, so sorry. ‘It was devastating. It would have been a girl, but perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. Perhaps I wouldn’t have coped.’
As well as model daughter Daisy, who is now 22, with rock star Gavin Rossdale, Pearl has Alfie, 14, Frankie, 11, and Betty, five, with her husband Danny Goffey, drummer with now-split band Supergrass. She seems to have her hands full, what with accompanying Daisy on photo shoots, and the fact that her teenage son Frankie is being what she describes as ‘a bit difficult. He has Asperger’s syndrome. But I’ve decided to be positive about this. Instead of complaining, I think about all the things he’s good at. I buy him paintbrushes and paints.’
The older ones want to leave mum at home in deepest Somerset and go up to join Daisy in Primrose Hill, North London. Little surprise there, as big sister seems to be living a gilded life at present. She has just finished writhing on the studio floor with her milky legs in the air, modelling her very 1950s-inspired swimwear, so we find a quiet corner to talk. While Daisy, who started modelling when she was just 15, in the FrostFrench show during London Fashion Week, is famous for being one of the new crop of curvy models (other famous members include Amber Le Bon and Georgia May Jagger), in person she still seems very small.
‘Really?’ she says, munching on a tub of salad – following an operation on one of her kidneys last year, she has enlisted the services of Soulmatefood, which delivers all her meals and snacks in little boxes. According to her manager, this isn’t about losing weight, but about making sure Daisy gets all the right nutrients to protect her health. ‘I look after Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, too,’ says her manager, referring to the Victoria’s Secret model and face of Burberry. ‘But Daisy has the body I would love to have.’
But still, nutrients or not, it seems a very spartan meal, and poor Daisy keeps picking at the buffet provided for the crew, mopping up olive oil with hunks of bread. I remind her she told Elle that she was ‘just as self-conscious as anyone else. I always feel like I’m too big but then I have a reality check and think, actually, it’s ok.’
She notices me watching her eat. Does she still feel she’s too big? ‘I’m really proud of being the poster girl for curves, I’m proud of my shape,’ she says. She has put on her own super-short, super-body-con black lace Alaïa dress (she also loves Christopher Kane: ‘I go on the Browns fashion website all the time!’), which shows off her wonderful breasts. ‘I think that what I’m aiming for is the return of the supermodel: we need to have real characters that women can relate to and look up to. Look at Lily Cole, she is so curvy, and Rosie [Huntington-Whiteley] is curvy, too… I mean, she’s tiny but she’s just so sexy. I don’t think women love really thin models. I hate looking through catwalk-show shots – they make me feel terrible about myself.’
I tell her that, while she was being photographed, I counted 22 people standing around watching her. Isn’t that difficult to deal with? ‘Not really. Rankin is really easy to work with; he keeps making me laugh. What is difficult is people wanting to know about my private life.’
By this she means the revelation, in 2004, that Gavin Rossdale, the frontman of British band Bush, but probably more famous for being Gwen Stefani’s husband, is her biological father, and the fact that she is dating Matt Smith, the current Dr Who. Rossdale had played an important role in her life as a godfather, until she turned 15, when he disappeared from view. In her autobiography, Pearl, now 41, says that Rossdale’s name is ‘banned in my household’, and that ‘he’s missing an amazing girl’.
I ask Daisy if she sees Danny as her dad, and if she takes after him. ‘Mum can be very pessimistic, whereas I think I am more like Danny. He is nice about everyone. He’s an artist, but he’s happy, not tortured. He’s much more easy-going. My mum tends to get stressed.’ (Pearl agrees; she says she finds it very hard to quiet her mind: ‘I can’t even relax during a massage.’)
Pearl wrote candidly in her autobiography about her own coming of age, which was fuelled by drugs. Daisy is adamant that she learned from what her mum went through, and is Saffy to her Edina. ‘The older generation learned what drugs can do to you, and we’ve learnt from them. We don’t need to experience it for ourselves, we don’t need to batter our bodies.’
Daisy met 28-year-old Matt after he had confessed in a newspaper interview that she was exactly what he was looking for in a woman. They make a sweet couple: affectionate in public, he is all angles and long limbs, while Daisy, who is 5ft 10in, is all soft, creamy curves. But she finds the attention from the press annoying, to say the least. ‘Matt is very sweet. But people keep following us on f***ing holiday! There was a terrible photo of me in a bikini in one of the celebrity magazines. We decided to go swimming after taking a long walk, and I didn’t have my bikini, so I bought a really unflattering one from a shop, one of those that pushes your boobs down and out!’
Ill-fitting swimwear is part of the reason she decided to take Peacocks up on its offer and design her own range. ‘I thought it was ridiculous that you couldn’t buy any high-waisted bikini bottoms, you know, that hold you in a bit.’ Why all the references to the 40s and 50s? Isn’t she too young to even know who Marilyn Monroe and Gina Lollobrigida were? ‘It’s all so sexy and beautiful and feminine, so that was why I chose it. And my mum has been a big influence – her wardrobes are stuffed with vintage clothes.’
I tell her I saw her on the catwalk at London Fashion Week last September, when she did the Vivienne Westwood show, and Matt was in the front row. He was grinning from ear to ear, unable to take his eyes off her. ‘But I was so much heavier then!’ she wails. ‘I had been ill, I’d had a kidney operation and put on a lot of weight, which meant I was self-conscious in front of people. I’m much fitter now.’
Poster girl or not, it seems that Daisy is very critical of herself. ‘I don’t look at pictures and think I could’ve done that better, I just go, “Ugh, I don’t like that!”’ She goes to a gym in Knightsbridge three times a week, having graduated from the Cindy Crawford work-out video. ‘Even my personal trainer yesterday was like, “You’re really hard on yourself, aren’t you?” Because whenever we have to do reps I’m like, “No! Two more, two more!”’
Were supermodels like Cindy her idols? ‘No, it was always Justin Timberlake. I was obsessed with him. I watched him in The Social Network and it was reignited – “I want to marry you!”’
‘My mum is amazing, she’s incredibly creative – I remember her drawing pictures of flowers when I was a child – and she has taught me such a lot. And she was always good at teaching me to be independent,’ she says. ‘Aged 14 I had a Saturday job in Agent Provocateur on Broadwick Street in London.’
She is now in demand as a sort of uber-beautiful girl next door, beloved by Asos customers, as well as the Pirelli Calendar and British Vogue. According to her booker at Next Models, ‘Daisy sells clothes better than anyone of her generation.’
She has been photographed for Italian Vogue by Steven Meisel, no less. Life seems pretty peachy. I tell her New York Magazine, in its directory of the world’s top models, sums her up with the following: ‘Body, breasts, social life, style.’ Could be worse?
‘I’m gonna try to be nice to myself,’ says this strange child-woman, reaching for another plate of food. She spots my Prada shoes. ‘Me and my friends were shopping on the internet the other day for Louboutins, and there was this amazing pair, but they were, like, three and a half grand! How did I not know about these? How do I get a pair? Ooh, and I would love, love, love to be a Bond girl,’ she says, finally. ‘That’s a goal, isn’t it?’
Daisy Lowe for Peacocks swimwear will launch in selected Peacocks stores and on peacocks.co.uk at the beginning of May. Pearl Lowe’s summer collection of vintage-inspired tea dresses is also now in store.
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i bought the daily mail for this kween today. she should start paying me.