Kate Fowler is so damn gorgeous and likeable. That’s because who you see is who she is – down to earth, warm-hearted, open. I remember spying her across the room with partner, Justin Hemmes, the charismatic CEO of Merivale; the pair were at a charity dinner in Sydney, Kate was pregnant, so beautiful, the couple was completely mesmerised by each other. Today, not a lot has changed. Alexa Merivale, their very sweet one-year-old is here and, happily, another baby is on the way. I adore their spirit and the way in which they live a very Sydney life – one in which good food and good family time is key
Photographs JAMES TOLICH Interview NATASHA INCHLEY
Stylist VICTORIA COLLISON Makeup JACLYN HNITKO
Hey, baby: above right, with her daughter, whom the couple affectionately call XaXa. Kate wears BALENCIAGA from Parlour X and CARTIER earrings; left, the entrance to the family home.
What else makes your home so special? So, so many things. I love its history, in a personal sense especially. Justin’s family moved here when he was two, so it’s very special to watch our daughter grow up in a place which holds so many memories from his own childhood. The stained glass windows and secret passageways are the stuff of fairytales but the interplay with the gardens and harbour are what makes it for us. The sunsets still amaze me everyday. Of course, sharing our home with friends and family is the best part, that’s when it really comes to life.
Kitchen Confidential: above, the bright space, with its hanging plants and open shelving, is accented with Moroccan Tadelakt benchtops and La Lampe Gras wall lamps.
What is the greatest lesson your daughter has taught you so far? And what values do you hope to instil in her? The wonder in Alexa’s eyes when she see’s something new is ridiculously infectious – she’s taught me to marvel and delight in the smallest of things. Then, in terms of values, kindness first and foremost. Hard work and self belief are up there too. I think we are the sort of parents who will go by feel, there’s really no map. I’m sure she will guide us and vice versa.
Family aside, what is your greatest passion? The whole eating and drinking experience holds real magic for me – and obviously that's a passion Justin and I share. I think coming together to eat is a wonderful excuse to stop what we’re doing, trade stories and make plans, not to mention memories. Looking for ingredients, cooking, even washing up, this was the rhythm of life for hundreds of years, so I find it kind of therapeutic to get into those rituals and relish the everyday moments spent with my favourite people. It definitely doesn’t need to be fancy or tricky. Thankfully, almost always, the simplest things in life are best.
How do you treat yourself, unwind and recharge? Justin’s mum, Merivale, bought me my first ever facial for my birthday, which was a revelation. It was at Jocelyn Petroni's salon and, honestly, it felt like floating; like sleeping but better, which is saying something these days.
What is your favourite Sunday routine? It's when we are staying down south. Alexa wakes up, climbs in bed with us, Justin makes coffee. It's XaXa rugged up and in the front pack, Justin is on carrying duty now she is getting so big. We let the chooks out, walk the beach, then fresh eggs for breakfast. Our days are fairly governed by naps, but around that there’s usually an ocean swim, in all seasons, followed by crawls on the beach, a game of pétanque, a rummage in the garden, a few pages of a book on a lucky day, rounded off by dinner, usually over a fire on the beach – Justin is a closet cave man.
And lastly, it's always such a thrill to find in one person a great sense of style in everything. Please share a few inspirations:
Your daily uniform: Jeans for the first time ever! They're best suited for chasing Alexa around. Also, cat-eye sunglasses.
Signature fragrance: Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood.
The book you most adored: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.
In your fridge right now: Tamarillos.
Secret pick-me-up: Caffeine and hip hop.
Your favourite film: Oldboy the 2003 Korean version, Kill Bill, Amélie, Spirited Away… I could go on and on.