It was one of the first truly sunny afternoons in May when I walked into the Karl Lagerfeld store in SoHo. I was on my way to meet Stella Maxwell, a 29-year-old Belgium-born, New Zealand–raised model who’s a regular on the Victoria’s Secret runway each year. The sunlight poured in through the windows, giving everything in the store a sort of shiny glean that matched what I imagined Maxwell’s aura to be. Soon enough, the lithe model appeared before me, 5’10” and all limbs. I’d seen her before, backstage at fashion week, though there was something different about her this time around.
She exuded an unwavering calm, a quietness we don’t see often from celebrities—they’re always expected to be “on,” commanding the conversation. But she put me at ease at that moment as we began shooting her Polaroids.
In perhaps two minutes flat, we had over 15 usable shots. “Killed it,” she said, peering over as the images developed. Each one came into view, peppering the table with her unique features—sharp jawline, impossibly huge eyes, and high cheekbones.
We sat down to chat about her latest gig as the face of cult Australian makeup brand ModelCo's collection with Karl Lagerfeld.
On Her Modelco Collaboration and Her Favorite Products in the Line…
I knew of ModelCo before I started working with them. And I’ve always really loved their products. They’re known for top-quality products and really great collaborations. They have a great self-tanning line. I’ve always been a fan. This project came up, and I was obviously already down to do it.
I’m really into this liquid luminizing strobe pen. It's really easy to use, and it has this champagne hue that works with all skin tones. The products are all vegan. There’s no animal testing, which is a big thing for me too.
On Staying Healthy and Active…
The lifestyle in New Zealand is very healthy, but I think everyone’s starting to understand the importance of health here too. It’s certainly become more of a trend to be health-conscious. It’s tough when you’re in a city to remain active. But it’s just about making an effort.
Everyone can meditate. You can meditate for just 20 minutes in the morning, and it really makes a huge difference in your mental health. The world is so busy. There’s a lot of noise. Taking 20 minutes just to be can change your outlook. Especially if you’re traveling and working a lot—around a lot of people. It’s 20 minutes to just sit and be with yourself and be in your mind. It changes things.
On Beauty and Empowerment…
Beauty is not something you can really define. It’s something within. Obviously, we have things that make us feel more confident—I wear products to make me feel more confident and stronger as a woman. I’m all about that. I am all about exploring different things and feeling empowered, in whatever way that is.
I buy formulas without perfumes and chemicals. Something soothing like aloe vera. You can take it fresh out of the leaf. It’s amazing just to sit with. If you’re watching TV, you can throw it on and let it sit on your skin. It’s really hydrating and completely natural.
On How to Feel Healthy in Your Body…
I love going on hikes and everything to do with making sure I feel healthy in my body and building my strength, sometimes you can forget to work on that. If you have a healthy body, you really do generally have a healthy mind. It’s really important to keep active and keep moving.
I try to work out as often as I can—usually three or four times a week. I do it for an hour, with either my trainer or a yoga teacher. I have both in L.A. and New York. If I’m traveling, I’ll bring my yoga mat with me and FaceTime my yoga instructor.
I split my time so evenly between both cities, I get the best of both worlds. I love New York for such different reasons as to why I love L.A. In L.A., I love to go on hikes and hang out with my friends—zone out. New York is so busy, and I get to work here. I live in Manhattan, so it’s nice to be able to walk around. It’s so easy to get everywhere. You generally run into so many people in New York, which is such a benefit.
On Eating Healthy…
I love salads. Thank God I love vegetables, salads, and fruits. I can enjoy eating healthy. I’m so happy I’m not a picky eater, I’m really lucky with that. If you can prepare it or even just add little things to make it taste better, it is possible to enjoy eating healthy food.
But Korean BBQ, burgers, pizza—I love those, too. I’m a huge fan of Italian and Japanese foods. Though, you can always make a healthier version. Sushi with no rice, that kind of thing. You can make little adjustments if you want to.
On Her Icons…
There's Kate Moss, of course. So many talented, powerful women. Their beauty just shines through. It’s their confidence. It’s their talent. It’s really amazing to see that as you grow up. You do aspire to be like them.
[Ed. note: the ModelCo by Karl Lagerfeld was limited edition and is no longer available.]