From Webster Groves Cheerleader to Supermodel, What's Next for Karlie Kloss?

By Sultan, Aisha | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), April 9, 2017 | Go to article overview

From Webster Groves Cheerleader to Supermodel, What's Next for Karlie Kloss?


Sultan, Aisha, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Those who have grown up with Karlie Kloss in Webster Groves describe her the way you might talk about any sweet, "Midwestern nice" girl next door. Except this girl has skyrocketed to the echelon of elite models and runs with the biggest names in entertainment and politics.

She has graced numerous Vogue covers, including one with her bestie Taylor Swift, has joined the ranks of Victoria Secrets Angels and has been the face of haute couture brands, from Marc Jacobs to Dior to Swarovski, around the world. She also launched her own YouTube channel and has millions of followers on social media. She recently sparked controversy after a spread in the March issue of Vogue in which she was styled as a Japanese geisha. Kloss apologized for participating in the photo shoot on Twitter after the images caused online backlash.

She's been in the news a lot lately. Last week she announced that her Kode With Klossy program is expanding to provide nearly 300 scholarships to teen girls, up from 80 scholarships in 2016. This year the two-week program will include 15 summer camps in 10 U.S. cities including St. Louis. Selected girls will learn about software engineering and app development. (Interested? Apply at kodewithklossy.com/youth-scholarship)

Surprisingly, Kloss led a pretty normal childhood, despite being scouted at 13. She went to Webster Groves High School, was a cheerleader her freshman year and made it to prom. Usually midweek, she'd fly off to work in New York, walking in fashion shows and doing commercial modeling and make it back for school on Monday.

The homegrown supermodel recently traveled back to St. Louis to launch a new collection she co-designed with Express with a private show at the Pageant. We got to sit down with Kloss before her show here.

Though her team of handlers wanted to steer the conversation toward her new line and said she would not answer any political questions, we were curious about how Kloss is handling the post-election spotlight on her personal relationships. Since 2012, Kloss has been dating Joshua Kushner, brother of Jared, special adviser to President Donald Trump. Joshua Kushner is a Democrat who did not support Trump and was spotted at the Women's March after the inauguration. Kloss had also tweeted a photo of her ballot, adding #ImWithHer, signaling her support for Hillary Clinton during the election.

Surely, this has to make for some interesting family get-togethers with Ivanka and Jared, arguably the most powerful couple in America.

Here is an edited transcript of our chat:

You recently tweeted a photo with the words "We should all be feminists" and are continuing to invest in coding camps for girls. Are you moving into a more politically and socially engaged message beyond your work as a model?

First of all, I grew up here in St. Louis. I have three sisters. I grew up in a house of strong women. I definitely have always been very aware of how important it is to support other women, and whether that's in the classroom, in the workforce or in any industry. I think having come from a house of opinionated, strong-minded women, that is just who I am.

I feel very lucky to have mentors like Diane von Furstenberg and Christy Turlington, and even getting to meet and learn from women like Melinda Gates, women who I think are leading by example. I think that's something that I really aspire to do. It's one thing to talk the talk, but really, to walk the walk is what it comes down to. The greatest gift that you can give someone is an opportunity to get an education and really be able to create a future for themselves.

How would you describe what it means to be a feminist to you?

I think equal opportunity across the board is not even a question. I think it's equal opportunity in education and equal opportunity in career. There's a disproportionate amount of men in the tech industry, for instance, and that was something that I really only realized after taking a coding class. …

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