While working together to photograph our new Fall collection, we had the pleasure of getting to know our model and August Muse, Michèle Ouellet, more personally. We discover that she is a modern renaissance woman of many interests and eclectic taste. Balancing two careers - one as a model, and another as a Napa Valley winemaker/Co-Founder of Lorenza Rosé – we learn how she balances her busy schedule while managing to be business partners with her mother, and the perfect food to pair with chilled rosé (yes, please!).
On your career...
HELLO MICHÈLE! YOU ARE A MODERN-DAY RENAISSANCE WOMAN. PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO BECOMING BOTH A MODEL AND WINEMAKER?
I started modeling when I was a teenager, which led me to travel all over the world. Although I grew up in Napa Valley, I really discovered rosé while spending time in France modeling, so that was a major inspiration for starting Lorenza with my mom. For over a decade I’ve had two full-time jobs!
WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF EQUALLY BALANCED ACROSS BOTH ENDEAVORS, AND DO YOU PREFER ONE BUSINESS OVER THE OTHER?
I love both of them. The past year, since I wasn’t traveling and shooting as much, I was able to dive even deeper into Lorenza and that was really rewarding. I have to say it does feel really nice to be back on set too, I missed the collaboration and my fashion family!
WHAT DOES A NORMAL WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I don’t know if there is such a thing as a typical week for me. It's usually a mixture of Zooms for Lorenza and collaborating on content for us, plus a couple of days of shooting and/or traveling. Luckily my business partner and mom are very used to my unpredictable schedule, so we stay flexible and try to make it all work.
HOW IS IT WORKING SO CLOSELY WITH YOUR MOTHER, MELINDA KEARNEY, AS PARTNERS IN LORENZA? WILL SHE EXPECT YOU TO BE PRETTY HANDS ON DURING THE GRAPE HARVEST THIS MONTH?
I love working with my mom. She is very inspirational, and we just have so much fun together. Yes! Harvest is the most important time of the year, with lots of decisions having to be made in a short amount of time. I love getting my hands dirty and getting to know the new vintage.
WE KNOW YOU LOVE GOOD FOOD (CHECK HER OUT AT @KISSSEREATS!) - WHAT WOULD YOU SAY THE PERFECT MEAL PAIRING IS FOR YOUR ROSÉ?
A dry True Rosé like Lorenza really pairs with everything. It's the perfect match for things like a cheese and charcuterie board, fish tacos, oysters, niçoise salad, but our forever favorite is fries!
YOU RECENTLY MOVED FROM NEW YORK TO VENICE BEACH, AND OPERATE LORENZA UP IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY...HOW HAS THE TRANSITION BEEN? WHERE DO YOU FIND YOURSELF SPENDING MOST OF YOUR TIME?
These days I’m mostly in Venice and partly in Ojai. I’m really happy to be back in California after over 10 years in NY. I will always have love for NY and still go there often for work. It’s great to be able to pop up to Napa easily from southern CA when the wine business calls!
MODELING HAS TAKEN YOU AROUND THE WORLD. WHERE ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO TRAVEL? ANY HIDDEN GEMS YOU'D CARE TO SHARE?
I’ve been able to go to amazing places for work… Some highlights have been Rio, Vietnam, Cuba, and all over Europe; but I can’t wait to go back to Tokyo. Often you go somewhere for a couple of days and are shooting the whole time, so I always want to go back and see the sights!
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF EACH OF YOUR CAREERS?
With modeling, I love the collaboration between photographer, art director, stylist, hair and makeup, and the whole team. It can be so much fun when we all come together to create something beautiful.
Working with my mom and creating our wine company from scratch has been so rewarding. We are really proud to be part of the process and hands on every step of the way. It’s an amazing feeling to work so hard during harvest, then do the blend and a few months later be able to taste the new vintage with family and friends.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS?
Likely, we will be living in our place in Ojai with a couple of kids, but who knows! I’m up for any surprises life sends my way.
WE APPRECIATE YOUR ECLECTIC TASTE. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
My style changes day to day. I love being able to mix it up depending on my mood, where I am and what's on the agenda. Day to day, I’m pretty classic with jeans, oversized button downs, loafers.
WHAT MUST YOU ALWAYS HAVE PACKED IN YOUR SUITCASE, ON ANY TRIP?
I love a silk slip dress for daytime and then can be dressed up should a fabulous dinner reservation arise! My suitcase always has a cashmere pullover for chilly plane rides and a pair of white jeans.
IF YOU COULD CHOOSE TIME-TRAVEL TO ANY ERA, WHERE WOULD YOU GO AND WHY?
The late 70s would be pretty groovy.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PIECE FROM OUR SHOOT?
I loved the leather trousers! So versatile and chic. Also the tweed jacket is fab.