Can you believe it's been close to two decades since Gemma Ward launched her modelling career? It certainly doesn't feel that way, but when you start to look closely at her achievements over the last 16 years, it's easy to see why time flew by so quickly. In the early days of her career, the model stormed international runways for brands including Prada, Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen, and Vera Wang, and fronted campaigns for the likes of Balenciaga and Dior.
With a passion for acting since she was young, Ward eventually moved into the acting world before taking a few years away from the spotlight. In 2014, we were ecstatic when Ward returned to the limelight, where she's stayed firmly positioned over the last few years. Now, the model and actress is working with iconic Australian department store, David Jones. At the retailer's recent 'The Art of Living' Autumn / Winter 2019 showcase, we sat down with Ward to learn more about the early days of her career, and what message she has for young women who look up to her.
What are some of your earliest memories of David Jones?
My first memories are walking in the show in Perth and then in Sydney with Jess [Gomes] and Nicole [Trunfio] and having a lot of fun.
What excites you about partnering with David Jones?
David Jones is the pinnacle of Australian fashion and I suppose that's why I am excited to work with them this time around! I was excited to go to Tasmania and MONA, and I am really excited about this whole concept of the 'art of living' and embracing all of these different elements like entertainment and wellness, as well as fashion.
What are some of your favourite David Jones brands?
I love Camilla and Marc, Scanlan Theodore, Manning Cartell. I love Bassike, P.E Nation and obviously apart from the Australian brands, I love looking to international designers. I have been liking a lot of the newer brands, especially Rixo London.
What are some of your proudest and career defining moments?
I feel really honoured to have been apart of the Alexander McQueen period of creative explosion at the time when Lee [the brand's fashion designer] was making such incredible performance art and such incredible museum worthy pieces for his runway shows. I have also felt really honoured to work with Miuccia Prada because I adore her and think she is a very inspiring woman. My shoots with Calvin Klein, working with Irving Penn and Steven Meisel are also highlights.
How did you shake self doubt at the start of your career?
It wasn't easy, I had a lot of people tell me that I looked really unusual and had some mean things to say especially in the public realm which just makes it even worse than just taunting at school. I think I kind of dealt with it by being encouraged by the people that I was working with and the people I love and know, my family, my close friends and my agents helped me work through that kind of stuff and helped me realise that its not really that big of a deal for your career.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about what you do?
That it's super easy!
Your career has seen a second life what have you learnt for the second time around?
I'm learning more of the art of living [laughs], I'm really learning how to balance all the aspects that I have now in my life, when I first started modelling I was really interested in fashion and I loved working with the people that I was working with and creating images, but now I really also appreciate the structures that I have in place to keep my health in check, I love meditating I love kick boxing, I love cooking and eating healthy.
Now that I've got children, it's nice to come home to that kind of energy after a day of work and travel and I feel like nowadays I have a lot more things that I do in my off time and in my private life. I feel like I have a more rich, diverse life now.
Lastly, what is your message for young women who look up to you and aspire to a similar career story?
There's no rush really, I feel like there's a big kind of pressure to churn out a lot of work really quickly when you're really young, but I think the better way to do it is to pace yourself and focus on the long game—so that's what I would say!