The model, actress and designer is also famous in LA for her mean roast dinners. No wonder Rosie Huntington- Whiteley wishes there were two of her.
Photography: Jonty Davies
Words: Debbie McQuoid
Fashion: Alexandra Fullerton
Rosie Huntington- Whiteley is a typical 25-year-old woman. Average. Everyday. Unexceptional. That’s what she’s trying to convince me, anyway. “I’m about as far from being a morning person as they come,” she pleads. “I give myself 30 minutes extra before I get up and then spend it lying there wide awake, literally counting down the half-hour minute by minute. I’m pretty bad.”
It may seem unfair to label Rosie a fibber without any real evidence, but the woman opposite me; the supermodel we’ve just photographed for our high-street fashion issue in which every shot was perfect, is, for want of a better word, glowing, despite our 6am call time – which meant waking up at 5am. But she still persists in trying to convince me.
“I still love a good high-street find,” she says, adding an excitable intonation to her softly aristocratic voice to assure me. “[Growing up] I shopped everywhere from M&S to Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Oasis, Monsoon, Dorothy Perkins, New Look, Warehouse, everywhere!”
Born in Plymouth to Fiona, a fitness instructor, and Charles, a chartered surveyor, Rosie did have a fairly conventional upbringing. Weekends were spent helping out on the family farm near Tavistock in Devon with her younger siblings Florence, 19, and Toby, 22. There was even some standard teasing in school (she was called ‘Tit-lips’ because she had big lips and no chest at the time. Ingenious).
ABOVE: Jacket, £195, and trousers, £110, both Whistles (whistles. co.uk); bra (just seen), £35, Rosie for Autograph at Marks & Spencer (marksandspencer. com); shoes, £295, Russell & Bromley (020-8460 1122)
But one doesn’t need any powers of perception to see that Rosie is anything but ordinary. She is insanely beautiful. In fact, every picture had the Stylist team gawping at how perfect it was. There is no way she could have followed any other career path than the one she is in – model, actress and now designer.
Rosie has just returned from Namibia where she’s been filming Mad Max: Fury Road with Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy. She’s in London to launch her first foray into underwear design with Marks & Spencer. The range is laid out beside us – a mix of dusky rose and sage-green silk camisoles, bras and knickers. The range is sensually feminine and tied together by the delicate rose motifs stitched here and there in all the pieces. It’s all terribly vintage. Rosie breaks into a smile. “I’ve got a vintage dealer. We speak in code on the phone…”
It certainly seems a natural step for Rosie. Lingerie was her ‘in’ into the industry. She’s modelled underwear for Chantal Paris, Agent Provocateur, Monsoon and Victoria’s Secret (she became an ‘Angel’ in 2009 after three years with the label).
“It wasn’t a plan. It’s just naturally my look, I guess,” she says. “I felt empowered doing lingerie shoots.”
Really? “[Lingerie] is the ultimate feminine buy and I love the feeling it gives women, the empowerment,” she continues. “I love that it’s for women only and then men afterwards.”
It’s not just modelling; designing has been on Rosie’s mind for some time. In fact, design was why she made the trip to London aged 16 to intern at a modelling agency; to get into the fashion industry. So why design a range for Marks & Spencer?
“I’d been approached by other brands but it never felt like the right fit,” she says. “I wanted to make sure that whatever I put my name to made sense for me and my career. I love Marks & Spencer; it’s so iconically British. Everybody shops there, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a massive income or not. It just told a nice story for me. I bought my first bra from there.”
ABOVE: Jumper, £45, Roksanda Ilincic for Debenhams Editions (debenhams.com); trousers, £295, All Saints (allsaints.com); shoes, £49.99, Zara (zara.com)
Lingerie may have opened doors for Rosie, and sales suggest it’s about to make her a fortune – her range is M&S’s fastest-selling. But it was Burberry Prorsum that first put her on the world stage when Christopher Bailey cast her in the fashion house’s autumn 2008 campaign. Catwalk shows for Prada and Giles Deacon, a Vogue cover and even an entire book dedicated to her (Rankin’s Ten Times Rosie) followed. It seemed Rosie couldn’t put a foot wrong.
I’ve been so lucky and worked with fantastic clients and fantastic brands. But when I look at pictures of me when I was 16, I think, ‘What was I thinking?’ Not that it works every time nowadays either, believe me.”
Having just watched two hours of effortless modelling with every picture pretty much perfect – again – I think Rosie might be lying.
“Honestly! It’s usually when you haven’t loved it at the beginning then a bunch of people try to tell you it’s right. You should always trust your gut.”
Annoyingly, while most of us may agonise over everything from what to have for lunch to what that promotion will mean long-term, it seems modern singers/actresses/models will never admit to anything as mortally dull as forward planning.
“I just think I’m on this planet to learn and evolve,” says Rosie. “I feel really lucky that I’ve had these opportunities. It’s always funny when people say ‘What do you want to do?’ and I say, ‘I don’t know. I’m just doing things!’ I honestly don’t know where I’ll be in 10 years’ time.
“I just take every day as it comes. You have to try and make the best out of every situation you’re in; try to go for the gold, right?”
For someone who has got used to baring her body on lingerie shoots, Rosie is clearly not as comfortable baring her soul. Previous interviews have revealed not much more than the fact she wore braces to her first few castings. And although we touch upon several potentially revealing subjects during our chat – spirituality, her fears – they are politely stopped in their tracks with, "I don’t like to talk about that because it’s private."
Perhaps it’s the Hollywood effect. Rosie’s career is about to go stellar. Her first screen role was Megan Fox’s replacement as the love interest in the third part of the Transformers franchise, Dark Side Of The Moon. Despite some harsh reviews (she wasn’t singled out – lead actor Shia LaBeouf also got a hard time), one critic likened her to ‘early Cameron Diaz’, and Rosie doesn’t seem fazed by her new role in Mad Max either.
“It’s looking like it is going to be a really exciting journey for me,” she says. “I think it’ll be a fantastic film. I can’t talk too much about [my role]. But I’m really excited. It’s been a really fun project so far.”
Personally, things are going swimmingly too. She recently bought her first home in LA with action star Jason Statham, who she met in 2010. When she’s not travelling – which, as it turns out, is “all the time” – she’s enjoying the West Coast weather and settling into what she tells me is her dream house.
“It feels full of happiness and love and there’s a good spirit in it,” she explains. “That’s definitely something we felt when we walked in it. It’s just really good to have the energy. It’s cosy and feels like it was full of love and laughter. I know a little bit of the history. I feel grounded in that home.”
Staying grounded is clearly something that’s important to Rosie, and the only time she seems truly ‘normal’ to me is when she starts to talk about Devon.
ABOVE: To all those who called Rosie ‘tit-lips’: who’s laughing now?
“It’s gorgeous down there,” she says. “My parents are still there but my brother and sister are both at university now. And all of my old school friends have moved away so there’s not much to go back for. But I’ll get down there and have a few days in the mud and the rain and see the animals, go for a few walks and then you’re back to… you know. It’s good, it reminds me where I come from, then you go back to the world.” The Hollywood world?
“It’s another planet. I live in a little bubble over there [in LA]. In a good way, though! That probably could come off negative…”
A normal life
Rosie’s bubble consists of staying at home and watching films; everything from True Romance to Singin’ In The Rain. She’s about to adopt a puppy called Peggy. She has her friends over. She cooks.
“All my friends in LA are English,” she says. “It’s impossible to find a good roast out there so I’m getting famous for ‘Rosie’s Roast Dinner’. I did a really good beef Wellington the other day and I do a great chicken pot pie; good hearty country food. You’re never going to come to my house and leave hungry...”
I must look sceptical.
“I’ll cook healthy on a daily basis but once a week we’ll definitely just have a good roast,” she stresses. “My job is crazy but inside I feel normal and I want normal things in life.”
Rosie attributes her hard-working and mature attitude to life to her mother, to whom she remains incredibly close. “She’s given some pretty stellar advice over the years,” says Rosie. “But it’s very broad advice like, ‘Stay true to yourself’. She’s brilliant. She’s not pushy in any way. They [her parents] also don’t really care that much. If they see I’m happy, they’re happy. I’m successful and I’m not doing anything degrading and I’m making a living for myself. What more could you want for your children than for them to have an income and be happy?”
But it must have been difficult for them to watch their 16-year-old daughter go off to join the notorious world of modelling and not freak out just a little bit?
“I’ll meet a 16-year-old girl from time to time and as I get older, it blows my mind how young I was when I first started,” she admits.
“I was 18 when I moved to New York. And my parents were so cool about it but I’ve got this feeling they probably were absolutely terrified.”
Despite loving what she does for a living, Rosie is happy to dispel the rumours that her little sister also has a modelling contract.
“She’s smart and she’s a student and she’s going to do something very academic. She’s not modelling, she’s far too cool for that,” she explains, mock rolling her eyes.
ABOVE: Coat, £129, Autograph at Marks & Spencer (marksandspencer. com); belt, £75, LK Bennett (lkbennett.com) Hair: George Northwood at Emma Davies Agency using Pureology Make-up: Florrie White at D+V Management using Decléor skincare and Stila make-up Nails: Sophy Robson at Streeters London using Dior Nude Vernis
It must be cool for Florence and Toby to have a supermodel and emerging Hollywood A-lister as an older sister, though…
“I do spoil them,” she says. “I love them to bits. I think part of working so hard is so that you can spoil your loved ones. And I don’t have children yet so it’s very much about spoiling Mum and Dad. They never got to travel that much when they were younger and had us. I didn’t go abroad until I was 15. So now I love to be able to send them on holiday and make sure my brother and sister have everything they need.”
It would be easy to assume that things have fallen in Rosie’s lap. For people who look like she does, things generally do. But if I haven’t been able to get to know the ‘real Rosie’, one thing is clear, she’s no idiot. Despite the ‘I have no plan!’ protestations, she clearly knows what it takes to last in an industry famous for ‘next big things’ who never quite become big.
“I just try to make the right decision at the right time,” she says. “And choose projects that will give me longevity and be the best version [of myself] that I can. “But,” – wait for it – “there’s no big masterplan. I mean, I’m really happy with the way things are. I get to do my [lingerie] line, I get to do my modelling and I get to do films every now and then. I can’t imagine doing much more. I wish there were two of me.”
Rosie for Autograph is in stores now