With her chameleon-like talents and piercing beauty, there are no limits for extraordinary model export Abbey Lee, as Genevra Leek discovers.
Going on first impressions, it could be easy to chalk Abbey Lee up as a fragile being, with her angelic features and wide baby-doll eyes, until one clocks the subversive piercings (13 at last count) and tattoos (she s recently added a twelfth) that suggest an inner strength of character. always been drawn to women who take control of their own lives, their own image and make good decisions,”she says. The Vogue cover girl is clearly more complex than any two-dimensional image could suggest.
donthink Iever been a character in a photo whoanything like me as a whole,”says Abbey Lee. on the runway, I take the clothes and the make-up and the hair and [ask]: the music like?’; strong are the lights?’
…I morph and change the way that Pm feeling to create that character.”Today, she is on set for Vogue Australia. After arriving in understated black trousers and a white Bonds T-shirt, with the palest pink wash through her icy blonde hair and a jumble of rings on her fingers, the 25-year-old has transformed and is now playing a 60s ingenue.
Itone of the first shoots Abbey Lee has agreed to in almost nine weeks since undergoing surgery to address an ongoing knee complaint. The enforced hiatus is the reason why the
Melbourne-born star, currently considered one of the worldtop five models, was required to mostly skip the recent autumn/winter ready-to-wear season. Instead, she spent the time in New York, her adopted hometown and a of misfits”to which, she says, she feels she belongs: seems to come from a different corner of the world. I donthink itlike any other place that Ibeen, and I feel really comfortable there.”
Recently, Abbey Leetime has been spent either at her Brooklyn loft (where she resides with a blue-tongue lizard named Annie Hall), her dusty art studio just four blocks away (she also paints) and in rehearsals for an album recording with her band, Our Mountain. But despite her time away from the spotlight, interest in her is stronger than ever, with reports of a role in George MillerMax Mad: Fury Road pending. She will only say that although shenever aspired to be an actress, she is open to anything. not someone who says no to something out of fear or out of the unknown,”she admits.
Whether or not a career shift into acting is on the cards, itsomething for which she has been unwittingly preparing from an early age. of the biggest things that I enjoy about modelling is that I can enter another world other than my own,”she explains. always done that as a child. I didnplay with dolls; I spent so much time inventing other worlds inside my head and up a tree and on the roof and in the dirt … Ialways felt very comfortable doing that, and I can break in and out of it really quickly.”
Her characters have been multifarious, from a devastatingly glamorous heroine swooning across Tom Fordbillboards to indie muse in H&Mglossy promotions and rock groupie sidling up to Tom Cruise on this past June cover of W magazine. For one iconic Italian brand, she has covered the gamut: Gucci, Ibeen so many different things. Ibeen the rock goddess in black, I ve been the bohemian in the fields … I feel Iproved that I can transform and be what they need me to be, and theygiven me the freedom to change with them.”
Gucci creative director Frida Giannini has perhaps been Abbey Leebiggest supporter. Not only was Giannini responsible for booking the emerging model s first-ever high fashion advertising campaign and repeatedly securing her for fashion and fragrance ever since, she has become a role model of sorts. of the things I respect about Frida is that shevery professional in her approach,”says Abbey Lee. the same. I donlike to reveal myself to everyone I work with. When Iat work, I work … Ialways really looked up to her for that because I think shea strong businesswoman.”
Thanks to her own sharp business nous and a strong awareness of self, Abbey Leepath has followed an upward trajectory while other girls have come and gone. takes so much more than the way that you look,”she explains. donjust let someone else control my career; I take a part in that. I see the industry from a side that my agent doesn. I m the one behind the camera seeing how people react to me … itbig business and wedealing with a lot of money, too. Girls fall into a world of traps.”
The same strength of character that has informed Abbey Leework philosophy pervades all parts of her life, not least of all her own personal style, defined only by idiosyncrasy and self-expression.
Shea collector at heart and many of her treasures are found in the alleyways of the rambling Les Puces flea market in Paris. Eclectic, you could say. Which is why itfitting that Abbey Lee counts fellow free spirit Helena Bonham Carter as an actress she admires.