As Daisy Lowe takes a quick break before joining the Strictly tour, she tells Janet Christie about fame, family, towel origami and the joy of dancing
Daisy Lowe. With her shiny black hair, flashing white teeth and killer curves, she’s one of the most recognisable faces in fashion. Cover girl, model, Strictly dancer, actor, DJ, cookbook author, self-confessed lover of all things sparkly.
And now towel sculptor.
Yes, Daisy will be adding that particular talent to her repertoire this Christmas when she embarks on a cruise with her grandma for a well-deserved break after the gruelling dance show regime.
Swans, elephants, rabbits, you name it, Lowe may be so proficient at flannel origami by the time she puts her twinkle toes back on dry land that her fellow dancers on the forthcoming Strictly Come Dancing Tour might be returning to their dressing rooms to find a shar pei, armadillo or Loch Ness Monster in wait when the show hits Glasgow next month.
“Yes! All I know about this cruise is that I’ve been signed up for making animals out of towels. I can’t wait to impress people on the Strictly tour with my monkey,” she says and laughs.
Lowe is taking her grandmother away for a holiday after the death of her beloved grandad on the first day of rehearsals for BBC1’s hit show. When Lowe topped the leader board in the first week with her elegant waltz to Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable, it was dedicated to his memory and moved Len Goodman to say, “I don’t think I’ve seen a dance better than that for week one, ever.” Lowe went on to tear up the dance floor for another eight weeks before being voted off.
“I’ll be with my grandmother at Christmas,” says Lowe. She needs tender love and care… and sunshine. I don’t think she could cope with staying at home and having her first Christmas without her beloved husband, so I’m taking her on a cruise in the sunshine.”
And will there be dancing with the captain for Daisy and her grandma?
“Oh, I really hope so. I’ve been missing dancing so much – I went and did a dance class yesterday – and I’ve been thinking, God, I hope there’s dancing on this cruise!”
When we speak, 27-year-old Daisy is upbeat, fresh from her morning meditation and over her disappointment at being voted off the show, having put in an impressive display of fancy footwork.
“Oh! Thank you,” she says, genuinely pleased at the compliment, and pauses to let it sink in, as if it’s the first time she’s heard it. Lowe is friendly and personable, verging on shy, with pretty girl-next-door looks – if your neighbours are rock stars that is. Raised in London’s Primrose Hill during the Britpop years, her mother is fashion designer, singer and party-scene survivor Pearl Lowe and step-dad is Danny Goffey of Supergrass fame (Lowe calls him Danny-Dad), while her biological dad is Gavin Rossdale of post-grunge rock band Bush, ex-husband of Gwen Stefani and now a judge on ITV’s singing talent show The Voice.
Lowe was unaware that Rossdale was her father until a paternity test revealed the bombshell when she was 15, something she was forced to absorb in the full tabloid spotlight.
“My dad doesn’t give me any advice about how to handle publicity,” she says. “I’ve been in that gaze for the past 12 years and I’ve grown into how to handle it. But he knows that everything that’s written about me isn’t always gospel.
“I’m very proud of him. I’ve been close to him since I was 15 and he’s going to be an incredible mentor on The Voice.”
As a model for more than a decade, Lowe has worked for Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, gracing the covers of Elle, FHM and Playboy, so she knows how to strut her stuff along a catwalk in Paris, London, New York and Milan, but the paso doble, rumba and salsa on Strictly were a step up.
“It was the most most joyful working time of my life,” she says. “I just love dancing. It’s my favourite way to spend my time. I always danced with my friends on a night out and I’m a big fan of dancing round my bedroom, but this was very different, very physically demanding. That’s what I’m most pleased about, managing to hold up for eight weeks. It was an incredible learning curve. And there’s the added pressure of being watched by many millions and only getting one chance to do it well. That was the most challenging thing because I have never been a performer and didn’t think I could do it. I was so anxious, but I’m proud of myself.”
She adds: “Dancing the waltz for my grandfather was really special, but the one where I finally figured out that I was supposed to be confident and have a great time on the dance floor was unfortunately my last, the salsa to Groove Is In The Heart by Deee-Lite. It was the first time I felt like I really could dance and deserved to be on the floor.”
On the Strictly tour Lowe will be joined in re-living the high-stepping highlights of the TV show, by her partner Aljaž Škorjanec, celebrity dancers Danny Mac, Ed Balls, Lesley Joseph, Louise Redknapp, Ore Oduba and their partners, host, Anita Rani and judges, Len Goodman, Craig Revel Horwood and Karen Hardy.
“Louise was my favourite I think. Danny’s incredible as well and little Claudia. I love watching Ore and he’s got such a good heart. And Ed Balls! What a joy to watch, brilliant.”
Being a bit of a clothes horse, Lowe fell head over heels in love with the glamorous outfits on the show and reluctantly handed them back after each dance. More commonly seen in Christopher Kane, Marc Jacobs, Erdem, Prada and Miu Miu, she does however have her eye on her flesh-coloured second skin rumba outfit with its galaxy of diamante sparkles.
“Oh my God, the clothes were amazing. So much fun. I’m a big fan of twinkly things, anything sparkly. I’m like a magpie, so that wardrobe room was an absolute treasure chest for me. We can buy costumes at the end so I’m having a good hard think about my rumba outfit,” says Lowe.
Lowe, who has been linked with Doctor Who actor Matt Smith, her friend Peaches Geldof’s widower Thomas Cohen, and Pop Idol star turned West End performer Darius Campbell in the past, saw her five-month relationship with model Bradley Frankie Wade hit by the Strictly curse. Now single, she spends her downtime with pals like the model Portia Freeman and artist Jonah Pontzer, and her family – her mother and Goffey have three other children – Betty, Alfie and Frankie – and have swapped London for a quieter life in Somerset, while Rossdale and Stefani have three sons Kingston, Zuma and Apollo who live with their mother in California.
“My friends are real human beings,” she says. “They and my family keep me very grounded. It’s just a case of don’t believe the hype, whether it’s positive or negative. I just keep very honest people around me who keep me in check.
“The publicity I get is not always the most pleasant, but ultimately it’ll be tomorrow’s chip paper. Although nowadays it’s on the internet a bit longer. But there are so many other things going on in the world apart from me. I’m just a tiny little cell in comparison, so perspective is very helpful.
“But it’s part and parcel of what I do. I’m very privileged to get to do something like Strictly and if that means I have to be able to deal with someone writing about me walking my dog, or going on a date then that’s all right.”
Walking Maltese Monty in Primrose Hill and catching up on the latest cinema releases are favourite pastimes for Lowe, and as the author of a cookbook published earlier this year, Sweetness and Light, she’s not averse to baking a cake and shock horror, eating it.
“After Strictly I was disappointed so I thought ‘right, I’m just going to fill myself with loads of films and fantasy’. I saw Dr Strange, Fantastic Beasts and I, Daniel Blake all in the same week. They were all brilliant, but Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake was such a powerful piece of cinema it really blew me away. I went with a few of my friends and leaving the cinema we all just felt like we wanted to start a revolution. Make the world a better place. And that is really special. Not many people make that kind of film. It was really brave, but also heartbreaking.”
Lowe has one of the most recognisable faces in fashion and won’t be looking for another career anytime soon, but if she wasn’t modelling she’d like to be doing something with a scientific bent.
“I loved science at school, so maybe I’d study that at university, and I’d quite like to do something eventually to help people, some form of medical job, or therapy,” she says.
In the meantime after the Strictly tour Lowe will be returning to her fashion and acting careers. “We have the fashion months coming up – New York, London, Milan and Paris – then I’ll be spending some time in America. Then a couple of things I can’t talk about around the world, and then I’ll be getting my head back into acting. I’ve done one acting job a year since I was 19 and that’s always been important to me, so it’s back to auditions. Before Strictly I thought I could never do anything on stage live because I would be too terrified, but it taught me I can do anything. I can perform. I’ll still be frightened, but I have done the most terrifying thing ever, so anything else seems do-able.”
Lowe’s film outings include the lead in 2013’s Confine, a psychological thriller, and a role in 2015’s Pressure and last year also saw her in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. This year coming she’s thrilled to be in the much-anticipated Tulip Fever starring Alicia Vikander and scripted by Tom Stoppard from the Deborah Moggach novel. Lowe plays “a wench” as she puts it, alongside her model and actor pal Cara Delevingne.
Before that, though, there’s the Strictly tour and a visit to Glasgow, about which Daisy is more than enthusiastic. For as well as adding a little rock’n’roll sparkle and stepping up as a dad, Rossdale is responsible for Lowe’s Scottish genes. His mother hails from Glasgow and the tour will see her granddaughter visit for the first time.
“Yes, I’m quarter Glaswegian!” she says. “It’s awful but I’ve never been. I’ve been to Edinburgh a few times but never had the pleasure of Glasgow. And, when I’m there it’s going to be my birthday, so I’m so excited to be spending it in the place where I’m from. I’m going back to my roots.
“I’ll need some suggestions about where to go out to celebrate. One of my favourite things is Scottish dancing and a brilliant director I worked with, Jamie Stone, took me to my very first ceilidh. I had one of the best nights of my whole life. It was so fun, so I’m up for that.”
So we know she can dance, but does she have a kilt to wear at her birthday ceilidh?
“Em... well, I have a mini kilt from Miu Miu. I’m not sure if it counts?” she says apologetically.
Daisy Lowe in a Miu Miu mini kilt at a Glasgow ceilidh? That’ll definitely count. In fact it’ll probably score a perfect 10. n