"I never thought I would be this kind of parent,” says model-turned-photographer Candice Lake of her earth mother tendencies. But then the Australian-in-London is anything but predictable. At the peak of her modelling career, shooting with the likes of Bruce Webber, Mario Testino and Steven Meisel, her head was turned by life behind the scenes and she retired from the runway to go back to college to study fine art and become a photographer...
Too beautiful to stay behind the lens for long, she has evolved into one of the fashion industry’s leading influencers for her vibrant, elegant style.
Now she is embracing motherhood with both hands (her husband is fellow Aussie and conceptual architect Didier Ryan who designed their glass-roofed open-plan home in a railway arch in London). There’s no plonking the children in front of the iPad while she prepares lunch – Lake has a strict no-screen rule – and no sweet bribes to halt any tantrums. Arden aged two and a half (Olympia is seven months) has never tasted chocolate and there’s lots of free-play and time in the great outdoors – he attends a Forest School where he spends his time climbing trees and exploring.
“Whatever your parenting style, it’s never going to please everyone but it works for us,” Lake explains. “Having a child and wanting to enjoy the precious time with them in the middle of building a brand is incredibly challenging. For the first year of Arden’s life, we tried to both work full-time without any help and away from our families and I found I was constantly conflicted. Now, my main aim is that whatever I am putting my energy into, whether it is my career or my children, I give it 100 percent. I realised after that first year of trying to do it all, that it is really about quality and not the quantity of time. Once I accepted this, our life was a lot richer.”
We caught up with her to talk about everything from her approach to health and wellbeing to mudlarking along the Thames for treasure – and how on earth you can look this good with two children under three. Like we said, nothing in half measures.
What’s a typical morning like in your house?
We’re all very early risers (I never used to be but am now). My husband always brings me a coffee in bed and we all have cuddles in bed and then head down for breakfast. My husband and I still have our hearts in Australia so we listen to a live stream of Australian birds in the bush – it’s different birds every day – until about 7.30am when we change it to anything from Dolly Parton to The Cure. We have three hours together until our nanny arrives and it’s completely sacred.
How do you spend family time?
We have a zero screen time policy with our children. I grew up without a television and it was a real gift. Obviously, I have my computer but the only time my son sees a screen is if I am taking a photo of him and I show him the picture. Now when he’s walking outside and there are people looking at their phones he thinks it’s at pictures of him [laughs] – he’s such a little narcissist! As a family we go to Richmond Park, foraging in Epping Forest and mudlarking on the Thames when the tide is out you can find treasure.
What did your own mother teach you about motherhood?
My mum had me when she was very young and she always instilled that if a woman is fulfilled and happy in her own life, her children will thrive. She pushed me to live my life to the fullest before I had children, with travel and my career, so I never longed for anything after they arrived.
Where did your love of fashion begin?
I sort of fell into fashion accidently. I was 19 in law school and on my way to my telemarketing job when a photographer approached me in Sydney and said I should become a model. I did fashion week in Sydney and a couple of weeks later an agent called to say we’ll pay for you to go overseas and be a model. I couldn’t say no. I had a very interesting career – my first job was the Ralph Lauren campaign – but I also wanted to make sure I had a career past 30. Now models can work until they are older, but I didn’t want to hit a certain age and have no qualifications so I decided to become a photographer. I remember being on a Versace shoot with Steven Meisel and calling my agent after to say I’ve definitely been fired. He’d taken five frames of me leaning against a wall and to me the photo looked terrible. Then I remember I was walking down the street and I saw the image on the side of the road – it was incredible – I thought ‘I want to do that’.
What is your approach to wellbeing?
We’re a family of organic healthy eaters. Arden has never had cake, he’s never tried chocolate, never had juice – I’m pretty mindful of what goes into his body. I love coffee but it has to be good coffee, I’ll eat a little chocolate at night – it’s all in moderation.