Not many ladies have the moxie to paddle out into the blue abyss and make peace with waves the size of Sunset Boulevard billboards (personally, we stop ourselves at dipping a toe into the frigid Pacific!). But, holding five ASP World Titles, 25-year-old Aussie surfer Stephanie Gilmore owns perilous H20 on a daily basis. And outside of the agua, she's got a reputation for being the most chill chick, but also rocking getups better suited for the glossies than the beach.
Just ahead of boarding a plane to Micronesia, the jet-setting wave rider invited R29 to peek into her world, wardrobe, and WeHo hotel room, which was stuffed with garb from labels like Surface to Air and Balenciaga mixed in with her sponsor, Quiksilver. With a little help from her accessories-designer sis, Gilmore styled four ferocious looks for our viewing pleasure, all reflecting the confidence of a woman who's riding high. So, hold onto your bikini bottoms, we've got a strong swell of inspiration for females everywhere, coming right up.
Photographed by Ashley Barrett
Tell us how you discovered surfing and when you knew it would be your lifelong passion.
"My dad introduced my sisters and I to surfing when we were around 10 years old. Living close to the coast in Northern NSW Australia, we were always at the beach from a young age. We all fell in love with surfing from the beginning, but I guess I loved it the most because I thought it was a lot more fun than all of the other sports we were doing, especially the dance classes!"
What's been the most gratifying moment of your career thus far?
"Every day is gratifying because I get to live this wonderful, jet-setting, free-from-routine lifestyle as a result of my success in surfing."
Cameo Dress, Chloé Boots, Yoana Baraschi Coat
You're constantly traveling — what's your most helpful globetrotting tip?
"Stay hydrated and stretch your legs. And, try traveling with your own yummy, healthy snacks to avoid that gross airline food."
What's your standby ensemble to wear on a plane?
"Comfy black jeans and a soft tank top under an oversized knit sweater. Hoodies are truly the best invention for a plane, and lately, I've been wearing my Converse sneakers, or just some simple black slip-on loafers. Remember: Less is more. That way you don’t have to spend three hours undressing and redressing at the security line, ha!"
What three items could we always find in your suitcase?
"My Chloé black ankle boots for all occasions, a good leather or denim jacket, and of course, bikinis."
Do you ever get scared in the big waves?
"Fear is what keeps us alive. Of course, big waves are scary, but it’s extremely exciting to push yourself in bigger conditions and challenge yourself mentally. In my head, I'm saying, 'Push yourself, be committed, and whatever happens, happens.' The biggest lesson in surfing when you wipe out is to relax — you can't fight the ocean, it's too powerful. So, you just have to go with the flow and enjoy the washing machine ride."
Where's the most remote location you've been sent?
"Pohnpei in the Caroline Islands of Micronesia is pretty remote. You literally have to take five or six flights from wherever you are to get there — it’s like island hopping! But, once you've arrived, the waves are fantastic, so it’s totally worthwhile. Or, the other spot would be Rum Cay in The Bahamas, which you can only get to by private plane or boat. This area is beautiful, very remote, and there's not much on the island except the most giant mosquitoes you've ever seen!"
You're a Quiksilver ambassador. What about the brand resonates with you?
"I love the history of the brand, the stories and images of the old surf days, and how the culture of the lifestyle is integrated into the brand today. The female line of Quiksilver clothing is designed for young, independent women — and the dreamers who are inspired by their travels and the world around them to be powerful, classy, and interested."
You must have gobs of swimsuits, which is your favorite right now?
"My wardrobe is pretty much swimming in bathers! I have my essential QSW black triangle bikini
that I take everywhere, but right now I also love the Bodega Bay Monokini
, which is bright and fun to transition into summer with."
Quiksilver Jeans, Dylan Kain Belt, Whitney Eve Dress (as overlay), Converse Sneakers, Jill Platner, Vintage, and CCSkye Bracelets
When you’re not in a bikini or wetsuit, what's your go-to look?
"High-wasted, slim-fit Quiksilver denim
, a loose tank or T-shirt, my Chloé quilted boots, a pair of sunglasses with flare, and crazy hair. This way, I can stay casual or throw on a jacket and lipstick to dress it up."
People always complain that wetsuits are so unflattering — what are your thoughts on that?
"They were made for men, and men only, for a very long time. But, more recently, there has been a shift in wetsuit design to be more fashionable and feminine. They don't necessarily function as well, but 'Beauty is pain!' I've been working with Quiksilver to create some cool suits and I can’t wait for everybody to see them. The fabulous surfer-slash-designer Cynthia Rowley
has also created designs that have changed the industry."
How would you characterize your own look?
"Rock-inspired, surf-chic, tomboy-casual, and well-traveled. But, it all really depends where I am and what I feel like in that moment. Never underestimate a sequin hat, just saying."
Whose style do you admire in pop culture, past or present?
"I'm completely in awe and inspired by the timeless intelligence and class of Diana Vreeland, and the outrageous beauty and confidence of Rihanna. Then, there's Karen O, young Bianca Jagger, James Dean, Kate Moss, Mick Jagger in the '70s, and Michael Jackson. Film characters like Liv Tyler in Empire Records tend to be my favorites style-wise. And, I could wear spaghetti-strap dresses like Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface to every event I attended!"
How do you feel Aussie style differs from American style?
"It changes all the time. Both are beautiful, and I've found designers from both regions that blow me away. But basically, it's all about the individual."
Who are your favorite designers?
's shapes and color palettes are genius, Isabel Marant
has that French sophistication with a touch of tomboy, and Jeremy Scott
is whack, but I love it! Plus, Aussie girl Kym Ellery
is a big favorite of mine at the moment — I love her personal style and her label."
Your perfectly relaxed, beachy waves are so highly coveted right now. What styling products do you love?
"The salt water does a pretty damn good job of helping with the beach waves. If I wash my hair before a surf, rinse with fresh water, add a little Moroccanoil
, then let it dry naturally, it becomes some of the best beach hair I've seen. Also, I'm loving Oribe Dry Texturing Spray
— it smells great for days, even without washing!"
Cameo Bodice, Quiksilver Shorts, Chloé Boots, Miu Miu Sunglasses, Jill Platner, Vintage, and CCSkye Bracelets, and Dylan Kain Bag
What are your other beauty musts?
"I use a lot of sunscreens — I'm still searching for the best one, but Ella Bache
is a good go-to. Honey from the super market may also be the best product ever! If I have a long day in the sun, I'll do a honey mask on my face. It really helps relieve and nourish my skin. Apply straight honey to your dry skin, massage, and then wash with warm water. My skin has never felt so good, and the best part is that you can get it everywhere in the world. I can't go anywhere without Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream
to moisturize. Also, I always have rose lip tint and black mascara in my handbag for when the sun goes down."
What type of training do you do outside of the water to keep that rockin' body?
"Cardio is the best and surfing alone is pretty good for the whole body. Dancing around the house with the music loud is also a favorite of mine, and stretching at night before bed. During competition stages, I follow a C.H.E.K.
routine which is Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology."
What kind of diet do you follow, if any?
"I prefer to eat fresh food, but it's not always accessible — plus, I have a horrible sweet tooth! My grandfather was a Swiss-trained chef who owned a French restaurant in Australia. With such great cooks in my family, it’s hard to skip the treats. I eat meat and most things in small doses. I prefer nut milks to consume less dairy and sugar, but I always give in when I'm at a fancy restaurant. When traveling, I try to eat local and in-season for the most vitamin-rich foods."
Which sites do you have bookmarked?
is always good to shop, and Refinery29
, of course! I don't follow bloggers, but I effing love Man Repeller
and I'm a big Elin Kling
fan. Oh, and the zine Shop Ghost
by Stevie Dance is fabulous. Besides that, I spend a lot of time on YouTube doing some music-video stalking, and naturally, swell forecasting sites!"
What's on your iPod right now that you're super stoked on?
"I'm so excited for the new album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
, Push The Sky Away
. But, lately I've been into Thenewno2
’s The Fear Of Missing Out
album, Gary Clark Jr.
, and Kendrick Lamar
What's the competition like amongst the women on the circuit?
"There are only 17 girls on the ASP World Tour
, so we all know each other quite well. And, everyone is pretty good friends in between the different heats. Of course, the feistiness comes out during events, and there are probably some tense moments behind the scenes and in the water. But, I think compared to many other sports, we're quite mellow. I try to stay clear of that stuff and just let the surfing do the talking."
What’s your secret to staying so positive?
"Imagine being paid to participate in your most favorite hobby, and able to capture the moments whilst traveling the globe to your heart's content. Plus, I'm always meeting awesome people along the way and spending long days in perfect water. The competition side gets me excited, too, so it's pretty easy to stay positive."
QSW Sweater, Emmanuelle Skirt, H&M Blazer, Barneys New York Loafers, Vintage Chanel Necklace
How does it feel to be an athlete at the forefront of a sport that was previously male-dominated?
"It's amazing to be a part of a fresh, young, sexy sport! I believe most guys in the lineups actually appreciate the girls out there — it balances out that testosterone. Of course, some dudes may let their egos get the best of them while riding certain waves, but as long as you're having fun, it usually encourages them to chill out. We're all doing it for the same reason — it's fun."
Who gave you the nickname Happy Gilmore?
"It was actually the Australian news media, after I won a few events when I was 17 years old. I guess it's due to the film title and my surname matching. Unfortunately, it's haunted me ever since."
As a role model for chicas everywhere, what is your best motivating mantra?
"Never underestimate yourself! Never stop learning or looking for inspiration, and as Marilyn Monroe said, 'Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.'"