Marc Jacobs' New Muse
“I met Marc Jacobs today, and I was like, ‘Oh my God I love you, I’m going to cry,’” model Daisy Lowe says from a Manhattan music studio where her boyfriend, Will Cameron Jr., is rehearsing with his band, Holly Miranda. The exceedingly loud guitar riffs filling the air around her do little to muffle Lowe’s unabashed excitement.
“I think that the female form is a beautiful thing and not something to be ashamed of. I like getting naked; it makes me feel like I’m 2 years old again. It’s definitely freeing.”
While Jacobs is notorious for garnering similar accolades from fashion alumnae and Middle America alike, Lowe’s sentiment is surprising. After all, the brunette beauty is currently the face of Jacobs’ namesake diffusion line, Marc by Marc Jacobs (a seat previously occupied by Victoria Beckham). While Lowe’s brand of unbridled enthusiasm could easily be misconstrued as disingenuous, even a five-minute encounter with the doe-eyed model easily proves otherwise. If anything, Lowe is as sincere as she stunning.
Still, whatever you do, don’t call her an "It Girl." “I really hate the term,” the Williamsburg-via-London mannequin says of the phrase that has, as of late, perpetually preceded her name in print. Granted, the 20-year-old model has become increasingly ubiquitous on both the catwalks and in the ad campaigns of some of fashion’s biggest names. In addition to Marc Jacobs, she is currently starring in ads for DKNY and Pringle of Scotland. During the last Fashion Week she walked exclusively for Anna Sui in New York, as well as Vivienne Westwood in London. Not to mention, Lowe has received Teen Vogue’s official endorsement: She’ll be seated at the title’s table at next month’s Vogue-sponsored Met Costume Gala for which she’ll wear a Jacobs dress (the impetus for the pair’s aforementioned meeting).
As for her personal life: the daughter of Bush front man (and Gwen Stefani’s husband) Gavin Rossdale (from whom Lowe is estranged) and singer/songwriter-turned-fashion designer Pearl Lowe has become a U.K. tabloid favorite, thanks in part to her bevy of headline-grabbing friends (TV presenter Alexa Chung, music scions Peaches and Pixie Geldof, and one-time producer boyfriend Mark Ronson included).
“When I think of 'It Girl,' I think of someone who is privileged, someone who has everything given to them. My parents don’t have loads of money. I’ve been looking after myself, paying my own way since I was 17,” says Lowe, emphasizing the fact that she’s no Paris Hilton with a brazen earnestness. “I’ve worked for every penny I’ve ever earned,” she adds.
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There’s no denying that she has worked—in five years Lowe has gone from relative obscurity to building a résumé that includes appearances in W, Italian Vogue and on Chanel’s runway. “I keep thinking, ‘Shit, am I going to fall down now?'” she says of her success. “Is this how far I’m going to get?”
While Lowe is quick to question the longevity of her career, in all likelihood her staying power is strong—having just filmed a cinéma vérité-style documentary for MTV, Lowe is poised to become a household name well beyond fashion’s front gate.
She was initially approached by MTV back in 2004 at the age of 15. The network was interested in filming her for a reality series, but, not wanting to miss any school, Lowe turned them down. Last year, MTV re-extended the offer, and this time Lowe agreed. Due to Lowe’s exceptionally busy schedule—“I didn’t have a spare two days to give them”—MTV opted to shoot a ’24 hours in the life of’ style documentary. “I want it to show the girl behind the photo… that as a young model you don’t have to be really stupid too,” Lowe says.
The other incentive for Lowe: the opportunity to encourage environmental consciousness—an interest that, for Lowe, is on par with her passion: modeling. In an attempt to “raise awareness about saving the world,” Lowe took MTV’s cameras to this year’s G-20 Summit protests in London, where she participated in a peaceful demonstration that involved “a camp to show that you don’t have to be constantly consuming. I want to give back and spread the word on how you can look after our planet. I hope to have a family in five to 10 years and I want my children to be in a world that’s the same world I grew up in, not one with loads of freak weather where it’s unbearably hot. I want them to live in a good world.”
Lowe also sees the project as a means of showcasing a more dynamic image of herself to a global audience: “I’m really putting my private image out there for the whole world,” Lowe explains. “I’ve always just been seen in photographs. This was a next step forward. I love modeling and I love fashion, but I also do a lot of other things: I paint a lot, I sing a lot, and sometimes I act on the side.” With modeling, Lowe muses, “it’s the sort of thing where you just see the face, not the person behind it.” But, despite Lowe’s eagerness to present a more complex likeness of herself to the world, she isn’t doing so without certain hesitations. “I’ve got to be careful. I’ve got to remain private somehow. I’m contradicting myself, but I’m 20. I’m still growing and I’m going to make a lot of mistakes. I don’t want the whole world to see me fall on my face.”
In Lowe’s case, this brand of self-consciousness seems to be in part the product of having lived most of her teenage years in the public eye: “I’m definitely more mature than if I hadn’t been doing this… but I’m just starting to realize that I’m at the end of my childhood. So, I’ve got to really quickly enjoy all the immaturity I can get.”
One area of her life that Lowe is working to keep out of the spotlight is her relationship with Cameron. The two dated from 2007-2008, before getting back together in 2009. “When we got back together we said, ‘OK, it’s time for us to remain private,” Lowe says. The decision, though understandable, is a drastic change for the couple who back in 2007 were posing for Terry Richardson together, half-naked on the cover of and in a photo spread within i-D magazine.
But, don’t take that to mean Lowe herself is giving up disrobing for the sake of fashion any time soon, even despite her mom’s pleading. “She’ll tell me: ‘Don’t let your ass hang out. Put some more clothes on.’ Or, ‘Stop getting naked in front of people. Please don’t do a naked shoot again,’” Lowe says, distinctly amused. “I’m doing something pretty nude in a couple of weeks,” she quips, adding, “I think that the female form is a beautiful thing and not something to be ashamed of. I like getting naked; it makes me feel like I’m 2 years old again. It’s definitely freeing.”
Clothed or not, Lowe admits that she’s not entirely without body consciousness: “I’m not the type of person that looks in the mirror and says, ‘I have a great body.’ I can look in the mirror and pick my body apart to pieces and pieces.”
Since her ascension into the spotlight, various fashion outlets have heralded Lowe as the model who may bring the death of the too-thin mannequin trend. Though thin, Lowe’s feminine figure (which stands in at 5’10” barefoot) is significantly more curvaceous than the majority of models dominating magazine editorials these days. And the cause is one Lowe is proud to take on. “I’m not saying I want all models to be curvy; it’s about having a healthy, beautiful body and appreciating the variety of the womanly form,” she says. “We don’t have to look the same, but fashion does have to change. The whole population isn’t a size 0.”
“I have no idea where I’m going to be in 10 years” Lowe says. “I might just be a homeless person…being a model you have quite a short shelf-life.” As for her ideal: “I’ll have a place in London and here in NYC. I will maybe have just had my second kid. I want to be doing something creative, maybe with my own production company so that if I want to produce or direct I can do that, or if I want to do costume design or be in [a film] I can do that.”
Regardless of where she ends up, don’t expect Lowe to draft any plans for the future in stone. “My whole philosophy is, let me go where the wind takes me. That’s what I’ve done so far. Every time I try and plan something, it always gets messed up.”
Alisa Gould-Simon is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer. She also covers fashion and culture for BlackBook, New York magazine and PAPER, among other publications.