Kate Fowler

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

  2.  Photographs JAMES TOLICH  Interview NATASHA INCHLEY



  5. On The Waterfront: main picture top, photographed at The Hermitage, the couple's heavenly home in Sydney with daughter Alexa and family dog Thunder, Kate wears a VICTORIA BECKHAM dress and JENNIFER FISHER earrings from Parlour X. Come And Take Me By The Hand: above, pictured with her partner Justin Hemmes on the lawn overlooking Sydney harbour, Kate wears CHANEL. When quizzed on the couple's most romantic date, Kate says, "Meeting Justin at Rome airport with no clue whatsoever as to where he was taking me. We jumped in a Fiat 500 and four hours later arrived at Positano at sunset, just in time for a swim – he has a knack for timing."


  1. ou spent a good deal of your childhood traveling to your father's pro golfing tours? What was it like growing up constantly on the move? We were on tour more or less full time until I started school. Mum and Dad did a great job of taking it in their stride – they made it seem very normal so it wasn’t something we were particularly conscious of. We saw a lot of the world and that shaped us more than we probably realised; there was so much to see and learn because the backdrop was always changing. My sister and I used to love sneaking onto the practice greens to help Dad, it was probably a bit of a nuisance for the other players. Now that I’m a mother myself, I marvel at how mum put two children on a plane nearly every week. It has turned out to be useful in preparing me for a life which is lived very much on the move. 

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.

  2. The Hermitage is such a wonderful family home: so grand yet unbelievably cosy and welcoming. Which space do you love most? The kitchen, surprise, surprise. The universal pull of the fridge endures. It opens up to the garden and sits at one end of a room, which includes the dining and living areas so it was always going to be a hub. It’s big and open so it accommodates Alexa’s increasingly adventurous ways. There’s lots of fort building and saucepan percussion going on at the moment.

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.

  2. an you share how motherhood has changed your world? It has changed completely and utterly! It has been a crazy but wonderful whirlwind. There’s the obvious adjustments – less sleep, and it definitely takes longer to get out the door these days – but you soon realise that those things couldn’t matter less. Alexa gives us so much back and brings the purest joy. We are incredibly lucky to have a really close knit and supportive family: Mum has been staying with us since Alexa was born and Justin’s family is also smitten, so with many willing hands around we have been able to maintain a sense of normalcy and even get the odd date night in amongst it all.

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.

  2. Nature And Nurture: above, Kate wears ISABEL MARANT from Parlour X with CHANEL pearl-studded flats and CARTIER earrings; and left, custom steel arched windows were incorporated in the house's transformation overseen by Hess Hoen architects, an homage to The Hermitage's gothic roots; Opposites Attract: below, in the living room, original sandstone and untouched clay walls contrast with the modern: a J.J. Rocking Chair by Antonio Citterio for B&B Italia, a Baxter Chester Moon sofa by Paola Navone and Alexa's playthings.


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.

  2. Sense And Sensibility: above, the main bedroom and bathroom featuring handmade mosaic tiles; Stand By Me: below, Kate wears ISABEL MARANT from Parlour X with CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN pumps.
  4. ou share a great chemistry with your partner Justin, what makes it work? I think chemistry is one of those things that doesn’t need to be worked at too much. We are very lucky to escape to the south coast for a few days most weeks which is a magical setting that helps us slow right down and get in tune. It’s amazing how full the days feel when you don’t have to bundle into a car and contend with traffic.
  6. 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.


  8. 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.


  12. The Light Fantastic: above, a Baxter Chester Moon armchair and Mongolian lamb chair in the breezy upstairs living space with views overlooking the harbour; Heavenly Creatures: below, Kate wears CHANEL in the bathroom; Justin is photographed in the home's formal dining rooom; on The Hermitage grounds; Kate takes tea; a garden sculpture.
  14. 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:

  15. Your daily uniform: Jeans for the first time ever! They're best suited for chasing Alexa around. Also, cat-eye sunglasses.

  16. Signature fragrance: Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood.

  17. The book you most adored: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.

  18. In your fridge right now: Tamarillos.

  19. Secret pick-me-up: Caffeine and hip hop.

  20. Your favourite film: Oldboy the 2003 Korean version, Kill Bill, Amélie, Spirited Away… I could go on and on.