By Kelly Slater
Photography by Brian Bowen Smith | December 1, 2011 | People
Embroidered sheath dress, Oscar de la Renta ($5,490). Neiman Marcus, 390 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables, 786-999-1000. Bubble hinge bangles in red sapphire ($1,700), pavé oval flower Deco ring ($960), hinged cuff with multicolor pavé sapphires ($4,700), M.C.L by Matthew Campbell Laurenza. Neiman Marcus, SEE ABOVE. Resin tabletop cuff in gold with teal glitter-washed water snake, Kara by Kara Ross ($240). Neiman Marcus, SEE ABOVE. Etna tourmaline ring with diamonds and tsavorite garnets set in 18k white gold (price on request), Krafla earrings with round and baguette-cut diamonds, aquamarines, and 18k white gold (price on request), Van Cleef & Arpels. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-866-0899. 18k gold Paraiba tourmaline and gray diamond ring, Vram for Gray Gallery ($32,550). Patent peep-toe pumps, Giuseppe Zanotti (price on request). Bal Harbour Shops, 305-868-0133
Marisa Miller and Kelly Slater are beautiful bookends to a certain iconic all-American ideal. Slater, the laconic and breezily talented surfer with chiseled abs, is from the Sunshine State, and Miller, the longhaired, sports-loving tomboy, is from California. They happen to be friends, bonded by a love of surfing and the ocean. In fact, the pair met at a surfing competition in Fiji that Slater sponsored, in which Miller took second place. “She was riding a short board. I was very impressed by that,” says Slater.
|Wool top with embroidered detail ($745), faille Seta skirt ($1,190), plaid pumps ($595), glass charmed bracelet ($250), Miu Miu. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-993-2300. Super Nature yellow-gold multicolor enamel ring, Solange Azagury-Partridge ($18,200).|
Both, though, are hardly haplessly lucky. Slater is to pro surfing what Michael Jordan is to basketball, and successfully turned his household name status into a platform for environmental stewardship. Miller, meanwhile, has transitioned from Victoria’s Secret angel and Sports Illustrated cover star to entrepreneur and philanthropist. On a recent afternoon, they connected to catch up on their adventures.
KELLY SLATER: I know you’re athletic—I’ve seen you surf. You’ve said you’re a tomboy, yet you’re also an icon of feminine beauty. How did that happen?
MARISA MILLER: I have two younger sisters, and I’m really close to my dad, so I would kind of be the pseudo-son and throw the football around with him and watch sports. We had horses, and we didn’t have cable TV, so our life was completely outside. I took wood shop. I didn’t know what being pretty was. My sophomore year in high school, I played volleyball, and they made you wear those ridiculous uniforms that look like a huge bikini brief. It was super-embarrassing. There was this rumor going around that I had a “good body,” and I didn’t even know what that meant! My parents were just like, “Oh, it just means you’re really healthy and you’re strong!”
KS: So you’re a straight-up hippie then?
MM: My parents definitely were hippies. They lived out of their truck the first six months they were married, and all they did was surf. So I definitely had those tendencies, because that was just how I was raised.
KS: Did you ever think you’d end up leading such a glamorous lifestyle?
MM: I would watch my mom get ready and we would play dress-up, but I was never really a girly-girl. So when I started modeling, it was kind of cool—it gave me a reason to explore that side of myself.
KS: Let’s change gears a little. How do you stay in shape? Personally, it’s hard for me because I don’t like to do a whole lot of other stuff besides surfing.
MM: Going to the gym can be pretty monotonous. I felt like I was getting a little too skinny, so I stopped doing so much cardio and started practicing Pilates and working more on strength training and toning. My lifestyle is pretty active, as well. I surf, I stand-up paddle-board, and I have a puppy now, so I’m always on walks and runs with her.
|Bouclé top ($360) and skirt ($540), Prada. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-864-9111. Crystal bracelet, Miu Miu ($450). Bal Harbour Shops, 305-993-2300. Bolster necklaces, Atelier Swarovski by Christopher Kane ($540 each), Appolon ring, Swarovski ($300). 734 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-538-4877. 18k rose-gold amethyst and tsavorite ring, Pomellato ($9,250). Bal Harbour Shops, 305-866-1225. Pastelle necklace in crystal, metal, and epoxy resin, Tom Binns ($1,865). The Webster, 1220 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-674-7899. Patent pumps, Christian Louboutin ($625). 155 NE 40th St., Miami, 305-576-6820|
KS: You mentioned paddle-boarding—you just released your own line of boards, right?
MM: I started demo-ing some boards for Surftech, and I felt that we needed a new design for women. I was frustrated that I needed a guy to carry my board down to the beach. So we made one that’s lighter but still stable. They thought, For a girl, do we put a pink flower on it? I really wanted to do a black one, and they thought I was crazy. After the orders came in, it was 70 percent for the black [boards], so I was like, Yes! Told you guys! Not every girl wants pink!
KS: You have a pretty casual style, but what are your go-to designers when you feel like dressing up?
MM: As far as red-carpet style, I love Dolce & Gabbana, because their dresses don’t take away from the women who wear them. They’re really focused on tailoring and fitting the body right, nothing too crazy. They’re timeless, they fit great, and you always feel really sexy when you wear one.
KS: I don’t.
MM: They don’t fit your body well?
KS: No, not very well. I just feel goofy.
MM: Yeah, I could see that! Then, on my personal time, I love Alexander Wang and Rag & Bone.
KS: You’ve been working with the USO [United Service Organizations]. How did you get involved there?
MM: The USO has probably been one of the most rewarding and touching things I’ve been involved in. I would get a lot of letters from guys overseas asking for pictures, or even wives asking for pictures to send their husbands. So that was eye-opening to me. I would get to meet remarkable people, like a girl with a brand-new baby whose husband had been stationed in Afghanistan since before the birth. That’s real heavy stuff. It’s so important to remember not only what the service members are doing, but also how their families are sacrificing, as well.
KS: I just feel goofy.It’s definitely very humbling to see that kind of commitment. You’ve also been helping out organizations fighting breast cancer. How did that come about?
MM: I work with the Young Survival Coalition, which is a group that supports and educates women under 40 who get breast cancer. I was just floored hearing about some of this stuff, because oftentimes when women get cancer in their 20s and 30s, it’s much more aggressive. I also help raise awareness about skin cancer. Young girls would approach me, and it was so obvious they were using tanning beds and frying. Being the beach bum that I am and having that kind of image, I felt like it was really important that I got the word out there that I don’t do that.
KS: I just feel goofy. That’s a cause that’s important to me, as well. My father died of cancer in 2002, and it caused me to read up on all sorts of research. It’s just baffling. But the healthier you keep yourself, and the stronger you build up your body from inside out, the less chance there is that you’re going to get cancer.
MM: Yeah, and as girls, I worry about all the products we use to get ready. My mom and sisters and I did a full beauty makeover and threw out all the crap. Now in my personal life, it’s all-natural, organic versions, and the same goes for household cleaning products and food.
|Ruby Crash dress, Mary Katrantzou ($4,903). Neiman Marcus, 390 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables, 786-999-1000. 18k gold and crystal necklace ($5,075), Psychedelic ring in 18k gold and yellow crystal ($2,660), Baccarat. Neiman Marcus, see above. Futuristic Deco bangle ($2,345), two bubble hinge bangles in red sapphire ($1,700 each), M.C.L by Matthew Campbell Laurenza. Neiman Marcus, see above. Louvre resin cuffs ($240 each), Isharya. Kiliwatch Miami, 3818 NE Second Ave., 305-576-0013. Tabletop skin inlay cuff in gold with python ($295), narrow section cuff in gold with python ($290), Kara by Kara Ross. Neiman Marcus, see above. Zodiac Scorpio silver black-cherry ring ($1,980), Cosmic Eye yellow-gold multi and enamel ring ($32,800), Cherub yellow-gold red ring ($10,900), Solange Azagury-Partridge. Peep-toe shoes, Christian Louboutin ($1,345). 155 NE 40th St., Miami, 305-576-6820;|
KS: Let’s talk about Miami. You’ve spent quite a lot of time there.
MM: When I began working for Victoria’s Secret, they were shooting a lot in Miami. I was there every week, and finally I just decided to stay because I didn’t want to fly back and forth from California every week. There are waves there—not huge, but the water’s warm.
KS: Yeah, Miami’s pretty crazy. The joke in my family is that my brother [Sean] knows everyone, everywhere. So one time my friends and I couldn’t get into this club. Finally [the guy at] the door pointed at me and said, “Are you Slater? I know your brother. Come on in!”
MM: [Miami] was a really fun place to be, especially at that time in my life. I was living it up. I had my skateboard, and I used to ride it over to Mynt Lounge, on Collins, and the DJ would put my skateboard behind the booth. I still see some of those people now and then, and they remember me.
KS: You’re shooting a movie called R.I.P.D., with Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, and Jeff Bridges. What’s that about?
MM: Yeah, I’m super pumped. They’re all cops in the underworld, and they’re dead. When they have to go to Earth, I play Jeff’s avatar. So it was kind of a crazy experience, because I had to have his inflections, the way he talked and everything.
KS: Cool. You should get [Bridges] out on the water! He likes to surf.
MM: Yeah, that’s awesome. It gives us something to talk about.
KS: Here’s a final question—I actually think about this a lot, because of how technology has changed surfing: Which era would you have loved to have been born into?
MM: Well, I’m a huge rock fan, and if I could have seen Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix in person, that would have been pretty amazing. But other than that, I’m totally happy to be right where I am.
Styling by Tanya Gill for Icon House/iconhouse.com; Hair by Lorenzo Martin for Cloutier Remix using L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin hairspray; Makeup by Terri Apanasewicz for Cloutier Remix using Amazing Cosmetics