Real Life

Meet our next top supermodel

This Taranaki teenager is a runway success!
Eden Bristowe

With her full-lipped pout, sparkling green eyes, exotic features and long, tanned limbs, it’s no wonder model Eden Bristowe has been compared to Gigi Hadid and a young Angelina Jolie.

But the Taranaki-born beauty is unsure about being likened to the King of Rock ’n’ Roll. “Apparently I look like Elvis Presley and that’s why I was asked to open the Vivienne Westwood show,” laughs Eden, 18, who was hand-picked by the eccentric designer for her London Fashion Week show when she was just 16.

“Being a Kiwi works in my favour a lot,” says Eden, who has twice graced the cover of Fashion Quarterly, appeared in Vogue Brazil and shot with famous fashion photographer Ellen von Unwerth.

“In the modelling industry, it’s typical for a girl to be from New York, London or Russia. It’s not typical for a girl to come from New Zealand. It’s a rarity.”

But Eden didn’t always want to be in front of the camera. Her mother, Kerry Coleman, describes her middle child as “a normal kid” who loved life on their New Plymouth farm. Kerry grins, “She was always a tomboy – never clean and never wore shoes.”

Eden sizzles in a shoot for her new campaign with French fashion photographer Gilles.

So when the beauty was shoulder-tapped in a mall at age 12, the family thought nothing of it, until a couple of years later, when Eden started “bugging” Kerry to let her try her luck in the modelling world.

The mum-of-five recalls, “I dressed Eden in black – black singlet, black jeans, no make-up and hair down – got my camera to take some photos and sent them off to a modelling agency. They rang the next day!”

From the get-go, Eden was kept busy with gigs in China and the UK, and soon the Taranaki teen was hardly at school. Kerry, 39, admits, “It was hard when people were ridiculing her and saying she should be staying in class. In the end, the school said to us to do what we had to do. So I rang the agency and said, ‘OK, you’ve got a full-time model now!’”

Eden’s skyrocketing career is extraordinary given that, at one point, she feared she’d never walk again. Almost 10 years ago, Kerry noticed something wasn’t right with her little girl.

“Her legs puffed up one day and so we raced her to the hospital,” she recalls. “They thought she had rheumatoid arthritis or meningitis.”

Her daughter adds, “I was paralysed from the waist down. I couldn’t walk.” Eden was diagnosed with Henoch-Schönlein purpura, more commonly known as HSP, a condition that causes the inflammation of small blood vessels. While this was a one-off scare, Eden remains “very cautious” if her joints get sore or her legs become discoloured, keeping her mum in the loop at all times.

With Eden now based in London and Kerry back home in New Plymouth, the bank worker admits it’s not easy parenting her globetrotting teen, but her daughter is still the down-to-earth girl she raised. “Most of the time, she is doing what she’s meant to be doing,” laughs Kerry, who says the duo talk every day.

Dishing the dirt on her career, Eden tells us, “When I first got to New York, my housemates would come home from partying with Leonardo DiCaprio or hanging out with Justin Bieber and I would think, ‘That’s so exciting.’ But then you find out that there’s nothing really great about them – only that they’re on the big screen.”

Eden’s mum Kerry (left) is proud as punch of her girl.

The part-Maori stunner adds that she once met singer Nick Jonas, but he was a “dick” and Eden “didn’t like him at all”.

Meanwhile, her crazy career continues. Shortly after our interview, Eden has modelling gigs booked in Auckland, New Plymouth, Sydney, Rarotonga and London. “You don’t get used to all the flying,” admits Eden. “The hardest part of modelling is the travelling.”

Eden graced the cover of Fashion Quarterly recently.

We’re catching up with her on a visit home to Aotearoa to promote the Australian beauty brand Cocooil, for which Eden is the new face. As part of the campaign, Eden worked with Elle Macpherson’s ex-hubby, French fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon, who says the teen has what it takes to be a world-famous model.

A proud Kerry says, “We were told last night that there are 10 famous photographers that you’ve got to work with and Eden has already shot with three.”

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