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Bette Franke: “Na nossa família, o Natal é estar juntos, comer e brincar com Legos”

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Entrevistas 6. 12. 2019

Bette Franke: “In our family Christmas is all about being together, eating and playing with Lego”

by Ana Murcho


Bette Franke, star of this month’s cover shooting “Family Affair”, spoke to Vogue about Christmas, the importance of family, and a life dedicated to Fashion.

 © Photography by Frederico Martins. Styling by Michele Bagnara.

In the 2000s, she was one of the faces that revolutionized the concept of top model. After the overdose of grunge and heroin chic, the angel face of Bette Franke (Heemskerk, The Netherlands, December 3, 1989) landed on the catwalks like a breath of fresh air. In 2006, she debuted in Milan as a Jil Sander exclusive. The success was immediate. She quickly became a regular at Dries Van Noten, Chanel or Balenciaga. This winter, she is the face of Hermès, after being picked up by Celine, Oscar de la Renta and Stella McCartney. Not sure how many Vogue covers she has, she guarantees they were “at least six”. She is, in her own right, one of the biggest supermodels of the last decades. And she has a dream family. Ladies and gentlemen, Bette Franke.

You have just turned 30. How do you feel about entering a new decade of your life? 
To be honest I didn’t feel like I was entering a new decade. Maybe that will come in a few years. I like being the age I am.I feel very fortunate with the life I have together with my husband and kids. Can’t wait for what this decade has in mind for me. The last was a blast.

I read somewhere that when you were “discovered” you didn’t even know what modelling was. What were your dreams back then? 
When I was younger I wanted to be working with wood. Making furniture or even a house. Something with my hands for sure.

You have been modelling since 2006. How has the industry changed since you started?
First of all, we didn’t have smartphones. During shows you would have to talk to each other or read a book. No stress about posting on Instagram either. I really enjoyed backstage back when I started. Was always so much fun. Just joking around with the girls.

What attracts you most in Fashion? 
I love how the people who work in fashion love their job. You are together enjoying your day and creating a beautiful image or story. And meeting new people with different backgrounds and cultures and interests always keeps you aware of the rest of the world. Working as a fit model during shows like Jil Sander and Calvin Klein I saw the progress of making a dress or coat. Amazing how a few pieces of fabrics become a whole collection. 

What do you consider to be the highlight of your career so far? 
I can’t really point out one specific highlight. I’m very happy with all the campaigns I’ve been able to do and people I’ve worked with. My first real shoot every outside of Amsterdam was with Steven Meisel. So, I really am very lucky with how my career evolved. 

Do you have any other projects aside from Fashion? 
Right now I’m just focusing on being present and growing a little human in my belly. The human body keeps amazing me. 

© Photography by Frederico Martins. Styling by Michele Bagnara.

Let’s talk about this shooting. It’s not the first time you work with your husband (who doesn’t work in fashion). How is your connection on set? 
My husband is a professor, and works at the university in Amsterdam. It’s nice to shoot with him he is very easy going on set and we just had to be who we are in real life. We like spending time with each other. It didn’t feel like working at all. It’s actually nice to spend a whole day so close to each other. At home there is always something that distracts us from holding hands the whole day. (laughs)

What about your children? Do they enjoy being photographed? 
I think they like it but I’m not sure they understand quite well. They just like being around us and having a camera in front of them doesn’t really matter. They are both pretty at ease with a camera around them. But we don’t do this very often. Boris didn’t want to be in some pictures so we just let him wander around and play. 

You are married Ilja Cornelisz in September 2013, in front of 80 friends, in a dress designed by your sister. After almost seven years, what is the best thing about married life? 
The best thing about life with Ilja is the love we have for each other. He is really great in helping me to do what I want and makes me do the things I’m sometimes hesitant about. And we are still in love with each other which is so nice to be. I think there is no bigger commitment to each other than having kids and wanting to see them grow up. 

© Photography by Frederico Martins. Styling by Michele Bagnara.

In your profession, you have to travel a lot. Do you like to have a routine, as a family?
When I travel Ilja tries to be with the kids. I’m normally only gone for 1 or 2 nights. And we try to do it not more than once a week. But with this job sometimes you work a whole week straight and then have 2 weeks off. So, it’s hard to plan. For the kids nothing really changes during the week. There is always one of us home. We are very lucky to be able to arrange it this way.

Did motherhood change you? I mean, did you feel different, as a woman, after your kids were born? 
It’s hard to say because I think it goes gradually. I didn’t realize before having kids that you would always be worried about them, are they hungry, hot, happy, sad. But I try not to think about that too much and just live. And the love I feel is insane. I only realized how much my mum loves me when I had kids myself.

This edition is about Family. What does the word, Family, mean to you? 
I have always been very protective towards my family (2 brothers and 2 sisters) And I still am. Family is always there when you need them. Also, to just sit next to and say nothing. We know when someone is not feeling well without talking. We celebrate Christmas Eve at my mum’s house so dinner with 30 of us (sibling, their partners, kids), we are very loud. (laughs)

When it comes to Fashion, who do you consider to be your “Fashion Family”, the friends you can always rely on? 
Sara Blomqvist is my best friend, we can talk about everything in life, boyfriends, work, kids. It’s really nice to have a friend like that, even though she lives in NY and I in Amsterdam. My bookers at the agencies are always there when I need them. Wilma Wakker I’ve known for 15 years and she knows me too. I’m very stubborn but together we always seem to come to a good plan. When I lived in NY Valerie Bulen was my go to person, she is an amazing friend and mum who always has time to listen. I feel I can talk to her about anything. She has been my booker right from the start. 

What are your plans for this Christmas? And what would you like to receive? 
In our family Christmas is all about being together, eating and playing with Lego. I never ask for present but prefer an experience over something material. For my birthday Ilja and I are going to the ballet.

Catch the full Fashion story with Bette Franke in Vogue Portugal's December issue, out now.

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