Kylie Bax talks fashion and horses
There's a happy sort of chaos at Kylie Bax Poros and husband Spiros Poros' villa at their stud farm just outside Cambridge.
A builder bounds down the long hallway, all smiles, to greet the photographer and me. He's followed by Kylie and Spiros, two-year-old daughter Danae, their realtor and Richard Boobyer, the landscape designer made famous by reality TV series The Block NZ.
The villa is stripped to the bones. It needs a complete renovation before they move in with Danae and their older daughters, Lito, 9, and Dione, 6.
The family have been living in a Cambridge rental home since they returned from Sydney to her native New Zealand in May. It was Spiros' idea to settle here. The Greek native could see the country going forward.
There's a ring parade to be designed at the new property and all of us, including the landscape designer and the realtor, trot down to the stables to see where, exactly.
It's raining - good, continuous Waikato rain - but Kylie and company don't seem to notice. They're wearing hats; Kylie and daughter in matching tomboy chic outfits, Spiros in Harley-Davidson T-shirt, blazer, jeans and sneakers. They seem out of place with their shades-of-grey New York stylishness, but very much at home in the way they navigate the farm in the rain, without gumboots. Kylie's umbrella doesn't stay open very long.
The how, what and where of the parade ring is discussed.
Photos need to be taken with Kylie and a horse. Questions will have to be asked and answered on the go.
Do they like being back? It's a great place to raise kids. New York is great, too, but you can't just step out of your apartment into all that greenery you have here. It's good for their children to be able to breathe this fresh air and run around.
We make our way along a muddy footpath, cows following the flurry of folk with curious eyes.
Kylie, who grew up in Thames and
whose parents own Matamata stud farm Blanford Lodge, tells how she started breeding horses with her parents when she was a teenager and how she's been involved with breeding them ever since, right through her modelling days.
We wade through waist-length grass.
She's softly spoken, her accent New Zealand via New York via Australia via everywhere. The model made good returned home.
Her answers are carefully considered, but there's always an answer - even when questions are temporarily interrupted by the photographer's instructions.
She remembers the question.
It's when she starts speaking about horses that she gets excited.
He's Better Than Ever, she says, and at first I don't realise that's the gelding's name.
People in racing circles will know him. He's a champion.
But today he's upset with all the people there. Kylie and Spiros calm him down with soothing "whoa" sounds.
Better Than Ever was a celebrity in Singapore, she says. He was trained by Laurie Laxon, who's based there. This racehorse used to come out to Tina Turner's Simply the Best. He won 12 races in a row. He won his very first and his very last race.
As if out of nowhere, a very smart phone appears with a fashion photo that Spiros, a former fashion photographer, took of Kylie and Better Than Ever. She's wearing a floor-length gown.
Everything she does appears as effortless as whipping out that image.
She's like one of those actresses - the ones who have lifestyles with a capital L - and every bit as fine-boned and with a finger in as many pies. She's just started Hermes Syndications with Spiros.
It syndicates horses to people who are interested in racing, through ownership or lease.
They want to generate an enthusiastic crowd who enjoy the thrill of having their own horse, and they hope to encourage women into the racing sphere. They intend to race horses in New Zealand and Australia.
Does she have her outfit sorted for Gold Cup day? Everything but the hat. The outfit is simple - but she can't wait to see what "her girl" - costume designer Claire Hahn - is going to come up with for the hat.
Does she favour certain designers? No, she buys what she likes - she'll mix cheapies and flea market finds with labels.
She thinks Gold Cup day should be great fun - everyone out there in their fascinators - she just hopes it doesn't rain.
Are they happy to be back? They are. And it's great that they can bring back everything they know from living in America and Europe, although their different ways of doing things are sometimes questioned - from their home renovations to Kylie's style (she's always been different) to incentives that she would like to bring into the racing world. There's a bit of head banging, but they'll get there.
We head into the stables for more photos. We're nuzzled and charmed by the horses. Aren't they wonderful to be around? Spiros muses. Danae laughs at the "horsies".
Back to the house for family photos on the porch.
Moving here has been a good move, Kylie says - Spiros gets to do a lot of the things he loves, including teaching photography and judo (he's a former champion).
Photos done, we go inside.
Does she see her future in fashion or racing?
Both. It's always been both. Fashion and racing go together, always have.
New Zealand has always been about rugby, racing and beer, but we tend to forget about the racing part. She wants to remind us: We've got some of the best racehorses in the world. She wants to get involved in project and product development and as a spokeswoman for different products.
This is their country and they want to make sure they're a part of it and all its creativity. It's wonderful to see New Zealand people accepted overseas - when she first went abroad for modelling, people thought New Zealand was in Greenland or connected to Australia by bridge. Now they know that we're clean, green, progressive, talented and smart.