LADYGUNN NO. 18 COVER STORY: FROM FASHION MUSE TO MUSICIAN, SUKI WATERHOUSE IS THE ULTIMATE COOL-GIRL MULTIHYPHENATE

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latex suit, Busted Brand

photos and set design / Sophie Hart

styling / Chloe & Chenelle Delgadillo

makeup / Audur Jónsdóttir

hair /  Iggy Rosales

Gaffer /  Eric Sanchez

Set Assistance / Jake Tremblay

story/  Catherine Santino

Take one look at Suki Waterhouse and it’s clear why people are intrigued by her. From her shaggy blonde hair to her signature messy-yet-chic eyeliner, Waterhouse positively nails the effortless, cool-girl look. It’s undoubtedly why she was scouted in a pub in her native London at age 16, and why designers have been putting her in their clothes and on their runways since.

Her prominence in the high fashion world has solidified her as a style icon who consistently perfects effortless, French-girl flair. But for Waterhouse, clothes are more than just outward expression. “It goes deeper than just wanting to wear a good outfit,” she writes to me in an email conversation. “[Clothes] are with us all the time and they harbor our dreams and memories. I use clothes to shine, to disappear, to protect myself or to take on a certain part of myself.”

earrings, sonia boyajian

Waterhouse, now 27, has taken the time to explore her interests outside of fashion: music, photography, and acting to name a few. She also launched a direct-to-consumer accessories brand called Pop & Suki in 2016 with her best friend, Poppy Jamie. Despite her mainstream fame, Waterhouse maintains an air of mystery; which, of course, only makes her more interesting. “I keep walls up,” she says. “Because your personal life isn’t a joke or something that I want to shove in people’s faces to encourage to be judged.”

The internet, she says, can be a nightmare for someone in her position. “People needing to share their opinions on everything on the internet [is the bane of my existence],” she says. “I don’t understand it. She has social media accounts, of course, but rather than give her followers a play-by-play on her daily life, Waterhouse curates her Instagram with recent projects and the occasional cryptic, captionless portrait (let’s be real; only a true cool-girl can pull those off).

Posting pictures of herself is an inevitable part of modelling, the industry that launched her into fame. Waterhouse has worked with some of the most legendary fashion houses such as Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, and Balenciaga, and has graced the covers of Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire. Putting one’s physical self on display, especially in such a sexualized industry, has certainly impacted Waterhouse; but not in the way you might think. “Honestly, I’m not sure if it is the male gaze that fucks women up more than we do it to ourselves and to each other,” she says. “That was where the pressure came for me. I hate to say it, but I was only ever told to lose weight by women in the industry. It’s not to point fingers, it’s just how our culture has been for a long time. I think there’s a lot of change going on, but still, the most praised people in the modeling world have significantly changed themselves from their normal size, and it won’t really change until the consumer stops esteeming it.”

Existing under that kind of pressure can surely get overwhelming, but Waterhouse has kept herself balanced with other endeavors, such as writing music. “I usually write when something massive has happened to me. Usually when disaster strikes! So I’m waiting around until I’m so sad that an entire album pours out,” she says when I ask about a potential full-length album. Her previous releases have a dreamy, rock-and-roll chillness to them, her London accent peaking through thoughtful, often lovelorn lyrics. When I ask about her influences, she cites mostly female artists: Mazzy Star, Judee Sill, Lucinda Williams, Aimme Mann and Cat Power.

It’s not shocking that someone like Waterhouse, who was thrown into the spotlight as a teenager, would look to these iconic women for inspiration. What advice would she offer to other young women? “I’d say learn about the business you’re in,” she replies. “Too often, there are men above us who control the money and keep you out of those conversations. You have to be such a hard arse, and it goes against all your natural inclinations of being ‘nice’ and agreeable. Set your standards and then refuse to apologize for them.”

Waterhouse has been unapologetic since day one, torpedoing into a creative life as the daughter of a nurse and a surgeon. “I was quite a cannon of a teenager, and when I decided not to keep on studying they were definitely a bit disappointed and worried at first,” she says when I ask about her parents’ thoughts her career choices. “With all parents though, if they see you’re working and not relying on them anymore, they quickly get over that. School might not fit you, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t enchanted with learning.”

So, what’s next for Waterhouse, who seems to have dipped her toes into every water of opportunity? “I’d like to learn how to cook,” she says. “Even just one thing would be a great start. I’ve had purely cheese and rose in my fridge for too long now. I’m aiming to do a delivery app wipe out.”

 outfit, oxana  sumenko.

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