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MY WORLD / Cate Underwood

‘Photographer-turned-model-turned-DJ-turned-mother’ is quite a mouthful – but it’s an accurate description of the New York resident and cultural polymath. ‘It’s very exciting to be able to express and reinvent myself in every way possible, multitasking across métiers,’ she says. And, as a muse for The Conservatory, she’s well-equipped to showcase the pieces from the lifestyle boutique’s exclusive collection with Narciso Rodriguez. Here, she reflects on how her work influences her approach to style – and shares her edit of the season. Photography by Cate Underwood and Lewis Hayward, shot for The Conservatory. Styling by Sabrina Dee.

‘I’d say my style has a definite ‘1990s redux’ vibe. You’ll find a lot of simple pieces in my wardrobe – suits, denim and white shirts – but I always style them with a twist…

There’s a definite grunge influence, too – a 1990s, Calvin Klein meets Versace aesthetic. There’s lots of gold jewellery, leather and statement outerwear pieces. My guilty pleasure is my collection of “ugly shoes”. I jokingly call them ugly because my shoes are often massive or peculiarly shaped. I think that balance is important in everything – ugliness is a necessary element that stimulates a deeper understanding of beauty.’

‘When I first started photography I felt a need to express myself. My 1990s upbringing and all of its aesthetical codes came through in my early work…

Photography quickly became a tool to explore and challenge modern-day ideas of perfection. I’m a firm believer in simplicity of form and message; things don’t need to look forced or out of reach to make sense. I guess I transformed this idea into the way I dress as well. As a photographer you feel in total control over a situation, but as a model you really have to give it up, to let go and do things you don't normally do. You have to have deep trust in people you work with and follow their instincts – I find the connection between the two fascinating.’ In shot: Cate wears dress by Rotate.

‘The journey and experiences I’ve had since my first trip to Paris until today have given me the biggest sense of joy…

It’s so exciting to have had all of these opportunities to express and reinvent myself through my photography, modelling and DJing. And this growth is down to really simple things – feeling comfortable in your own skin, being creative, being loved. My greatest achievement to date has been the ability to combine my personal and professional life without having to compromise on anything.’ In shot: Cate wears shirt by Nanushka.

‘I have to say right now I’m obsessed with the white knitted dress and black knitted top from the new Narciso Rodriguez x The Conservatory collection…

They feel really 1990s to me – I think it’s the simple cuts and monochrome colours. I’m a firm believer in simplicity – an outfit doesn’t have to be overly complicated or over the top to look good. Knits are so good for when I’m travelling, too. I always try to avoid packing clothes that I have to steam on trips.’ In shot: Cate wears dress by Rotate.

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