In the opulent lobby of an exclusive New York hotel, an esteemed import has gone missing. After thumbing anxiously through guest records, concerned staff discover the “traveller” taking refuge inside a private waiting room. The VIP guest in question was not marie claire’s celebrated cover star Lara Worthington, but rather the dazzling Dior dress for her cover shoot. Such is the pulling power of Australia’s fashion darling, she can summon a designer dress to New York from Paris via Sydney.
With the crisis of the missing gown averted, the cover shoot on Long Island goes ahead and Lara shimmies in and out of a series of looks like a seasoned pro. And why not? When not being snapped on the red carpet with her husband, actor Sam Worthington, on his Avatar 2 press tour, Lara has been cementing her fashion icon status and is well and truly in with the cool crowd.
“I had dinner with Max on the weekend,” she flippantly says of Ferragamo’s new 27-year-old creative director, Maximilian Davis. “He’s so fresh and directional and I love his use of colour. I always enjoy wearing his designs; they feel like they complement my personality.”
Since coming to fame in the early noughties, Lara and what she’s wearing have always been closely followed. “Fashion is something that, without saying anything, you can show your personality through,” she enthuses. The mum, model and entrepreneur has undergone several style transformations over the decades, and she defines her current look as classic tailoring with a uniquely Australian twist.
It’s widely emulated by her 1.2 million Instagram followers, but they’re not the only ones watching – Lara’s personal style has also caught the eye of some big-name brands, such as Kérastase and Tiffany & Co. (she’s a friend of the house).
Working with brands that align with her values is a priority. In August, Lara announced her partnership with cult skincare brand Emma Lewisham. “I learn a lot from Emma. We both have a strong passion for the environment and giving back,” she says. “I can ask her almost anything about skincare and life and she’ll have the perfect answer.”
Similarly, Lara is passionate about lending her voice to the creative process, especially when she’s on set. From the growl of Rihanna tracks (echoing through the studio) to the scrupulous moodboard, every detail is carefully considered. “I am a very visual person,” she says. “Anyone who knows me knows I love a moodboard.
I find being very involved and invested in the concept from the beginning keeps it exciting for me and everyone. I’m a real team player. It’s rare that I’ll turn up to a shoot blind on the concept.”
Lara takes a methodical direction with her work but embraces a less-structured approach to family life. “On weekends, we love walking the city. That’s one of our favourite things to do as a family,” she says of her three young sons, Rocket, Racer and River.
“I love the culture of living in New York with the boys [the family moved there in early 2022]. We don’t have a car, so they ride their scooters home from school, which is a nice change from the LA bubble. We often stop at museums or an art gallery on the way home from school, which I love because I didn’t get to experience that when I was growing up. The boys love the Museum of Natural History, although they’re also like, ‘We’ve been there five times now, can we not!’”
Aside from accommodating a better work-life balance around Sam’s filming schedule, the decision to uproot the family from their home in Los Angeles was also influenced by the allure of better protecting their boys with New York’s stricter paparazzi laws.
“We tend to try to keep our lives as normal as we can. I don’t think about that stuff ever. I don’t make it my reality,” says Lara of the tabloids, which she has navigated for more than two decades. “My mum instilled in me that it’s important to maintain a little bit of mystery. I think it’s hard in this day and age to achieve. I’ve tried to keep things pretty close to my chest and I think there’s
a certain elegance to that.”
This is an increasingly complex time to raise young boys, and the mother of three is conscious of the role she plays in setting her sons up to navigate the world as men. “It’s really important to establish a good foundation from the beginning,” she says. “Sam and I have always emphasised the importance of those formative years, as it’s not something that just happens overnight. Our boys go to a very progressive school and we really prioritised instilling good values.”
What conversations dominate their table talk? “We often discuss our community and how we can help,” she says. “We also love having conversations with the boys about their day, their friends, what inspires them and makes them feel happy and good.”
What makes Lara happy are thoughts of home. The topic of Australia and its many treasures comes up frequently, even though the bone-chilling winters of New York feel a world away from memories of salty ocean dips, sticky summer Christmases and adventures with her sons. “I do miss Australia,” she says.
“The first thing I do when I’m back is run into the ocean. I’m a Cancerian and a real water baby. Getting that balance of the beach is important in my family, especially living in New York. The last time we were there as a family, we visited Steve Irwin’s zoo and really showed our kids around because they hadn’t been to Australia properly. Sam takes enjoyment out of that”
Turning back to the marie claire photoshoot in New York, Lara recalls how when she stepped into her final look – the ethereal white Dior dress – the team “were all saying they would wear it to their wedding”.
Reminiscing on her own wedding dress, Lara confirms publicly for the first time that when she and Sam secretly tied the knot in Melbourne in late 2014, she wore the white lace Louis Vuitton gown she had shared earlier on her Instagram feed. “I bought it in London a couple of days before we were about to get married,” she reveals. “It was lucky they had something to fit me because I was seven months pregnant with Rocket at the time. I still have the dress and would never part with it.”
Keeping certain things private and controlling her own narrative feels like the defining start of a new chapter for Lara, who is reflective about the different phases of her career thus far. “I’m always learning more about myself, my passions and my journey,” she says. “I think the key is just to [try to] feel good all the time, and do whatever you can to make that your reality.”
With three kids and a slew of projects in the pipeline, we’re coining Lara’s new era the age of unapologetic living.
Pick up a copy of the April issue of marie claire Australia now.