Supermodel and Victoria’s Secret Angel, Doutzen Kroes, took a break from her schedule to chat with me about new motherhood, staying fit for Victoria’s Secret photo shoots and keeping her European roots intact. Kroes even let me in on her sexy Valentine’s Day plans with her husband of two years, DJ Sunnery James.
Upon googling Doutzen’s name, I couldn’t help but notice that top queries for the Dutch beauty included search phrases regarding Kroes’ weight and how her body bounced back after having her son last year; it’s a topic that seems to have captivated the American female consciousness. We do touch upon how Kroes stays “bikini ready” as she puts it, and how she got back into heavenly shape after giving birth to son Phyllon. Kroes even shares how her Victoria’s Secret glam squad helped her to fend off that all too common “disheveled new mom” syndrome (lucky girl!).
On a more serious note, Doutzen Kroes discusses her dedication to the non-profit organization, Dance4Life, which is helping to educate young people about HIV and AIDS prevention through song and dance. Dance4Life is a unique program that is using music and self-esteem building programs to reach underprivileged youth in ways that traditional HIV/AIDS lectures seem to have fallen short.
PR.com (Allison Kugel): You have one of the most coveted jobs a model could wish for. Being a Victoria’s Secret Angel is the entrée into supermodel status these days. Did you set your sites on becoming a Victoria’s Secret Angel, or did you fall into the opportunity?
Doutzen Kroes: I definitely fell into this position. I consider myself so lucky having a L’Oreal contract and a Victoria’s Secret contract, and doing all of these big things around it. It just happened. I went to an agency in Holland and they sent me to New York. I had lots of troubles with being homesick, but I went for it. Then I went to some castings for Victoria’s Secret and I worked for them, and then they wanted me to try out as an Angel. I had no idea when I was in Holland what Victoria’s Secret was.
PR.com: So you couldn’t have dreamt of working for Victoria’s Secret growing up, because in Holland you’d never heard of them.
Doutzen Kroes: I was really not into fashion and these kinds of things. I was really just a tomboy in Holland. I came to a Victoria’s Secret store for the first time when I was in New York, actually. I saw all of these beautiful pictures of Gisele [Bundchen] and Tyra [Banks], and my agent said, “Maybe it’s you one day.” (Laughs). And then it became a dream.
PR.com: Did any of those models who came before you give you any valuable advice?
Doutzen Kroes: No, not really. I was never around Gisele and Tyra. For me they were like icons that seemed far away. If I saw them I would introduce myself, or I would get introduced, but there was never a friendship, which happened later.
PR.com: How did you get into modeling back home in Holland, since you were a tomboy, as you put it?
Doutzen Kroes: I actually sent pictures to an agency in Holland. I was at home and I was looking at pictures, because I was making a DVD cover. I had put songs on a CD and I needed a cover, and I saw this beautiful woman with beautiful hair and makeup. I was like, “Oh, I would love to have beautiful hair and makeup like that.” All of a sudden it hit me. I was never into these things and all of a sudden I saw that picture, and I looked in the magazine and it had the name of the agency, so I sent pictures there. Then it happened from there really fast.
PR.com: Now that you’ve been in New York for a while, are you still feeling homesick for Holland?
Doutzen Kroes: Yes, but it has gotten a lot better because I now have my husband and my son, and we all live in New York City. I feel very connected to Holland and that is where my home feeling is, but I have to be here for work. It makes a big difference that my husband and my son are here.
PR.com: When do you plan to take your son home to Holland to see the rest of your family?
Doutzen Kroes: He was born in Holland. I’m here for two months and then I’m back home in Holland for two months, that’s actually the way I do it. He is actually in Holland a lot and they see him all the time. He is Dutch too. He has a Dutch passport and he has a visa.
PR.com: He’s well traveled, more than some adults.
Doutzen Kroes: Yes, if he could have a frequent flier pass… he can’t have it yet. I already asked for one (laughs). It is only for two years old and above (Doutzen’s son is one year old). He’s already a frequent traveler.
PR.com: Being that you have a one year old, how did you get back into model shape so quickly?
Doutzen Kroes: First of all, I was really excited to go back to work. I gave birth and I kind of got back in shape pretty fast because my mom was like that, it’s a little bit genetics. Then I started working out and that got me excited. The fact that I could be on a shoot again and have hair and makeup, and feel sexy, that was something that almost no mom has. You’re at home, you’re a mom and you don’t feel sexy, but when you are able to get hair and makeup and shoot for Victoria’s Secret, it is so amazing to feel that again. To have that balance between being a mom and work was something I was very excited about. I think my enthusiasm also made me get back into shape faster because it made me work harder.
PR.com: That’s such a good point. I remember after I had my son, I went through a period where I just didn’t have time to blow out my hair or put on makeup, and it can get a little depressing. But you had to get done up for your job, which is great!
Doutzen Kroes: Now, this morning I had to rush to a pediatrician appointment with my son and the only thing I put on my face is moisturizer. I had no time for anything! It’s all about your baby. It happens to me all the time and it happens to every mom. But when you’re in my job then you’re forced to get hair and makeup. Then you come home with your hair and makeup and you feel sexy for your husband, and it’s really nice.
PR.com: What are your Valentine’s Day plans this year?
Doutzen Kroes: I don’t have plans yet, but I leave it to my husband. I let him figure that out, because I like to have him arrange, and just have me come with him and not have to think about or worry about anything. I’m very excited for that. I’ll see what he has planned, but I will definitely put on something sexy. That is all I have to do. I’m going to take a shower, maybe put a mask on before and smell good.
PR.com: Taking a shower is always good.
Doutzen Kroes: Well I want to be fresh, you know?
PR.com: I’m just kidding.
Doutzen Kroes: Yeah, I know, but when you’re freshened up I think it makes you feel good, and beautiful lingerie, of course. If you have sexy lingerie on it makes you feel sexy and that’s something that is so important. You feel it on, and that is what is so incredible about lingerie. It could be something crazy and very sexy and nobody would know, only you, and that’s your little secret. So I will definitely do something special, maybe a garter belt or something.
PR.com: What’s your go to lingerie by Victoria’s Secret? Are you a garter belt and stockings girl?
Doutzen Kroes: Not regularly because it is so much work. But for special occasions like Valentine’s Day I think I will put a little bit more effort in, and I will do the garter belt and stockings.
PR.com: Are you interested in creating a brand for yourself, and branching out into business ventures?
Doutzen Kroes: It would be nice in the future to have something that is my own and to promote my own brand. My first step towards that was collaborating with Repeat Cashmere and I made my own design with my name on it. I think that is something for the future and it would be very exciting. That is why I am doing all of this; that’s why I am building a name. It would be nice to have my own thing but it would be difficult to find the timing right and to find something that I have passion for. I still need to figure it out.
PR.com: Any special plans for Fashion Week?
Doutzen Kroes: I don’t have many plans. I have a couple of events that I am going to and I might go to see the Theory show, [designer] Olivier Theyskens, because I know him and he is a good friend of mine, and I love what he does. But I’m just around town and going to parties. I put together all my outfits to look good, so I’ve done all the preparations. I think I am just party hopping to all of the events.
PR.com: How do you put yourself together? Do you work with a stylist?
Doutzen Kroes: I do some things myself, but every season I am shopping with my stylist, Ketevan Gvaramadze, and then I can mix and match. And for special events I go with her and get special dresses and things like that.
PR.com: The Victoria’s Secret Angels did an in-store event recently, in Soho. What was that like?
Doutzen Kroes: It was so crazy but so much fun. In the morning we had all of the interviews about Valentine’s Day and about what we were going to do, and all about our gift picks for Valentine’s Day, and all of the promotions for Victoria’s Secret. It was a lot of fun. At night we had two hours of taking pictures, Adriana [Lima], Lindsay [Ellingson] and I, with customers from the store. That’s always fun because you get to meet all the fans. Adriana Lima has some serious fans (laughs)! Sometimes you see them more than once because they come to all of the different events.
PR.com: After a runway show or after some of these promotional events, what kinds of things do the fans say to you when you’re meeting and greeting?
Doutzen Kroes: They are all always very sweet and I get a lot that they say, “You’re very inspirational and you’re my role model.” It’s really sweet to hear that. It’s why I work hard and I think it’s important to see yourself as a role model for younger girls. [It’s important] to let them know that you are healthy and taking care of yourself, and give out a healthy body image. That is why I am glad to hear that when they say that. And that is why I am also involved with the CFDA, on their panel, and we are really fighting to get the healthy model back. There were some speculations that girls were getting too skinny and don’t eat, and don’t know about nutrition. There is also Model Alliance with Sara Ziff, that’s her initiative. It is really amazing, all of these things are happening, and I want to be a part of them.
PR.com: What are your eating habits? Do you let yourself have things like pasta, or a hamburger or chocolate? Or do you stick to a strict eating plan?
Doutzen Kroes: I’m not very strict. Of course there are times when I am really strict and that is before a Victoria’s Secret fashion show or when I know I have a bikini shoot with them. I always have to be bikini ready, basically, but I think it’s important to enjoy life. With me, I really listen to my body and when it says I’m full, you know, then you’re full and even if it tastes good, you just have to stop eating. I can order a hamburger and eat half of it, or I can eat just a little bit of French fries. I don’t have to eat everything. I see the sizes they give out and it’s too much I think. It’s all about moderation.
PR.com: Tell me about the organization, Dance4Life. Dance4Life was founded in your native country, in The Netherlands. How did you become involved and what made you decide to take on the role as their U.S. ambassador?
Doutzen Kroes: I was really interested in them because I love the way they try to interest young people and involve young people in a positive way. They go on tours and they talk about HIV and AIDS and how to prevent it. To me, it’s just incredible how everybody knows how to prevent getting HIV and AIDS, and to use a condom, and still the number is rising. I thought, “Oh, this is easy, we just tell everyone to use a condom.” But it’s not that easy. It’s a huge problem [in The Netherlands] and also in the United States. We just launched Dance4Life in America, and we’re in Philadelphia.
PR.com: Are you speaking at different schools?
Doutzen Kroes: Actually Dance4Life has a tour team and they go to schools all over the world and they talk about HIV and AIDS in a positive way, through dance and music. I saw it for the first time in Tanzania when I went with them. I saw how the Dance4life tour team did a dance and they were singing and making music, and that is how they involved young people. That is our goal, to reach young people to encourage them to educate themselves and each other. If you reach only two people in the school who are considered “cool” because they get involved, and they reach the other kids in the school; it’s youth telling youth about the problems and how to prevent HIV and AIDS.
PR.com: What kind of feedback are you getting from these kids about the Dance4Life program?
Doutzen Kroes: In Philadelphia it was very disappointing at first. The kids were not into it and it was hard to talk to them. Then we put on the music and at that point everybody was alert and everybody got excited, and stood up and started dancing. That’s the feedback that we want, is when the kids get involved because they love how they are getting the information. It’s a new way of giving information through dance and music. I think that is what works with kids and young people. The feedback we got from [Philadelphia] is that it is a major problem and the biggest problem is that they don’t talk about it. That’s what we are trying to change. It’s such a taboo to talk about, first of all sex, even with your friends, and then to talk about condoms, even in New York. I talk to the kids about it and they get so shy, but after a while they open up. Because I am who I am and because I do what I do, there is a little bit more attention to what I have to say. Young people, they listen to me when they hear that I’m a Victoria’s Secret model. It gets a lot more interest, and that is why I am glad to do this. It’s my job to give something back.
Learn more about Doutzen Kroes’ charitable initiative to educate young people about HIV/AIDS prevention at dance4life.com and follow Doutzen on Twitter @Doutzen.