It’s not every day you sit down with a supermodel to discuss her underwear. But for Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, getting intimate about intimates is all in a day’s work. ‘I would say I probably have about a dozen bras, in all different colours,’ she tells Grazia. ‘Women love to flash me too – that’s always highly entertaining – or I get sent pictures from women who have an entire drawer full of my lingerie.’ She’s talking, of course, about her phenomenally successful line for M&S which, now heading into its 12th year, is the longest-standing partnership in the history of the British high street. ‘I see it beyond just a collaboration at this point,’ she says. ‘It’s truly like its own standalone brand at Marks & Spencer because the customer knows and loves it so well.’
The secret to its success is no surprise – with a decade of experience as a lingerie model under her belt, Rosie knows her balconettes from her bustiers. ‘I felt I had a deep understanding of the product, having worn it nearly every day of my working life,’ she says. ‘In my early years of modelling, it was all overtly sexy lingerie.
I really wanted to build a brand that was designed by women, for women – that was very much about comfort first and feeling good within yourself, but still looks beautiful and special.’
It’s clearly a winning formula. Many of her signature pieces have proven so popular they come back, restyled, season after season. The Beau bra, for example, has been a consistent best-seller for the past eight years. ‘I think my approach to design has evolved alongside my own life and style journey,’ she says. ‘When I started, I was obsessed with vintage, which inspired a lot of my prints. I’ve changed a lot and now would say my style is more minimal and modern.’
One thing that has remained unchanged since day one is Rosie’s role as chief guinea pig. ‘When we’re introducing a new cut of knicker or style of bra, then I absolutely want to try it on,’ she says. ‘I think of women like myself when I design – time poor, who just want something easy to wear, that goes with everything and can be thrown in the washing machine.’ Nine times out of 10, she’ll reach for a simple triangle or smoothing T-shirt bra.
‘I love anything that is going to give me a little bit of shape or lift. But I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing a bra every day. I just want to feel comfortable and supported; something that makes it easy to get dressed in the morning.’
Now, at 36 and a mum of two – to six-year-old Jack and daughter, Bella, who is almost two – she says her relationship with her own body is a constant evolution. ‘It’s a mental shift – having to dig deep and have a lot of patience with yourself and your body,’ she says. ‘With both pregnancies, it’s taken me a long time to feel back to my normal self. Bella is 19 months and only now do I finally feel like my body is my own again. In many ways, you change forever. As you grow older, it’s a privilege to be able to just try and embrace the changes of your body.’
Nowadays, the Rosie empire has grown to include shapewear, bridal, nightwear and loungewear, with the third Rosie HomeWear collection having just landed in-store. It spans fleecy joggers, louche lounge dresses and wrap robes – all items that are sleeper hits in the style plate’s own wardrobe.
‘If you told me four years ago that I would wear sweatpants out of the house I would have laughed at you!’ she says. ‘But I think we’ve all experienced huge changes – personally and socially – in the last few years and many of us have moved towards that hybrid way of living.’
A serial entrepreneur, having launched her own beauty brand, Rose Inc, while pregnant with her second child, could further expansion be on the cards? If you’re among her 19.5 million Instagram followers, you’ll no doubt already be familiar with her love of interior design, from snapshots of her impossibly chic home in LA, which she shares with her partner of 14 years, actor Jason Statham, to the recent refurb of their west London home.
‘Buying furniture is what I go to work for! So, do I see that on the horizon? Perhaps… Watch this space,’ she teases. ‘I’ve got a few things up my sleeve, I will say that…’
As for any news of a full fashion line that her fans are eagerly awaiting, she says that the right partner ‘is everything’ and is business-savvy enough to recognise that ‘you can’t do it on your own’. She often name-checks M&S’s head of lingerie design, Soozie Jenkinson, with whom she has worked side by side since day one. ‘I’ve had lots of opportunities to have my own fashion line over the years and nothing felt quite right,’ she says. ‘It needs to be authentic. I’m always having conversations about how I would do it… But equally, I’m super-happy not to have another brand right now. I’ve got enough on my plate!’