Highs & Lowe
Once notorious for her partying and festival antics, model Daisy Lowe tells Alix O'Neill how she now gets her kicks hanging out with her friends and drinking green tea... and why she's enjoying being single again
Daisy Lowe is trying to convince me that she's not a party animal. "Do you know what's really lovely?" she says, while polishing off her quinoa salad and reaching for a bread roll. "None of my friends are caners. We'll have our occasional big night out. Like Glastonbury - I made sure I watched the sun come up on Monday morning. But I don't need anything to enhance the experience other than some green tea ... and a couple of shots of tequila."
We're discussing Millennial virtuousness. Does Lowe think her generation is boring? "I think there was more of a focus on drink and drugs with previous generations - they didn't have that self-care element. I look after myself a lot more these days and am having way more fun than I used to."
Lowe's apparent reluctance to play hard is understandable. Her mother Pearl was part of the notorious Primrose Hill set and previously struggled with drug and alcohol addictions, while close friend Peaches Geldof died of a heroin overdose in 2014. But 28-year-old model Lowe is the face of a more earnest and clean-living generation. She's worked with the likes of Burberry, Chanel and Agent Provocateur, dabbled in acting and has even written a cookbook. She's also managed to clock up 300,000 followers on Instagram. "All of my friends have jobs and work hard. The It-girl tag annoys me. I graft loads."
Among Lowe's inner circle is the new Primrose Hill crew, which includes Geldof's sister Pixie - "I was out with her last night, it was loads of fun" - Nick Grimshaw and Florence Welch. "I've got an amazing sisterhood, and there are some men in there as well." Squad goals à la Taylor Swift, then? Lowe shakes her head emphatically. "Definitely not. I'm never going to adopt the 'squad'. It's very cliquey and exclusive."
Earlier this year, Lowe was pictured with Peaches Geldof's widower, Thomas Cohen. After five months together the couple split in May but Cohen remains a "dear friend". Lowe has since been linked to Funny Girl actor and Popstars singer Darius Campbell but claims to be happily unattached for now. "For so long I've been single. I've had one relationship in five years and that was with lovely Tom but I'm proud of the life that I've created. It's mine. It's nice to go on dates, though." Is she on Tinder? "God, no! A lot of close friends and family members have got married through online dating. I don't think it would be wise for me to do it. I like meeting someone and feeling their energy and smelling them, not this 'swipe' thing. That feels wrong to me. I'm such an old-fashioned lady."
Chivalry will get you far. "I'm a big feminist, though I think it's important for men to chase and woo and be respectful. When I first moved to New York, one of my best friends used to put his hand on my back when we walked across the road. I was 18 and would scream at him, 'I'M AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN!' Now, I love a man who opens a door for me and wants to carry my bag because it's heavy."
She may be single at the moment but her time with father-of-two Cohen has got Lowe thinking about motherhood - she brings up babies twice during our conversation. "I'm not ready yet but I'm really excited about having children at some stage."
She's looking forward to some cosy domesticity after a summer of uncharacteristic hedonism. "I've been at a festival every weekend since Glasto, which is quite shocking for me." Recently, Lowe and Welch saw her latest musical obsession, Christine and the Queens. "Oh my God, I'm so in love with her! We watched her from the side of the stage. Not to sound like a spoilt music brat, but generally the sound is so much better when you're in the crowd. She totally managed to engage us, though. Florence and I both left with love-heart eyes for her."
Lowe's epic festivalling of late is, she says, a response to the recent political upheaval. "I probably wouldn't have gone out so much if that stuff wasn't going on in the world." She's still coming to terms with her Brexitentialism. "You know the thing that enrages me most? We were given the choice to vote, which I think is mad, actually, then there was no plan. I hope Theresa May can come up with a way to take care of the country. I want to bring my children up in a world where we're free to travel and work wherever we want, and in a society that takes care of immigrants and refugees. The whole thing makes me really sad but it's important that we stay positive - nothing good comes out of feeling crap."
Today we're meeting in Preston, a far cry from her north London stomping ground. She's collaborating with dessert manufacturer Naughty But Rice as its brand ambassador and today is testing new flavours. So, erm, why rice pudding? I ask. Lowe laughs. "I love my food and have such a sweet tooth. And rice pudding was something I always had with my grandpa when I was little, so it's a nostalgic thing."
It's a great plug but Lowe does seems genuine. She apologises for taking a call from her grandfather during the interview. "He's been sick. Hopefully, this will be his last operation. When he was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, I cancelled all my work and moved in with him. We'd sit around eating and I ended up putting on 21lbs. I only shifted it through calorie-counting, exercise and cutting out alcohol for six months." No mean feat for a self-confessed foodie. "My family and friends take the mickey out of me for how much I love eating."
In 2014, Lowe released Sweetness & Light, a cookbook of healthy sweet treats. She's hoping to adapt some of her recipes for her rice pudding gig. "My mum wanted me to write a cookbook for people who have the same struggles with food. I've always had a fuller figure and get so many girls on Twitter and Instagram asking me how I stay in shape. It's about balance, not crazy dieting. If you don't eat, you become miserable."
Lowe lives her philosophy. The woman scoffs non-stop throughout our conversation and is a joy to hang out with - all warmth and enthusiasm. She looks amazing too - signature curves in a simple black maxi dress. And there's this Zen glow about her. "It's the TM." The what? "Transcendental meditation. I've been doing it for three-and-a-half years and it's changed my life. Taking 20-40 minutes out a day, you become more conscious of the way you spend your time everywhere else. My friendship group has got much smaller. I can count my closest people on two hands and don't really let anyone else much further in."
Sunday roasts are a big deal in Lowe's world - the gang congregates at pubs such as The Stag, near Hampstead Heath, or at Lowe's flat. But not for long - she's just bought her first "proper house. It's my dream home. It's got original banisters and cornicing and stained-glass windows. I'm already planning a fancy dress room with pink sequinned curtains."
We've gone off-piste. The rice pudding rep reminds me that our time is up. I'm allowed one final question. But we're just getting started! I want Lowe's thoughts on Trump! Syria! Hiddleswift! I clock a pot of Naughty But Rice on the table. "Er, if you were a rice pudding, which flavour would you be?" I ask Lowe. "Salted caramel, straight up. Because I'm a world of contradictions."
Daisy Lowe is the Naughty But Rice Brand Consultant and Ambassador