Kate Hudson is running a bit behind schedule. She has just spent the past eight hours posing on the side of a cliff in the Pacific Palisades wearing a series of couture dresses that are worth, collectively, more than most anyone makes in a year. The shoot was supposed to have ended an hour ago, but when you’re in dresses like these, why would you want to rush—and why should you? “I definitely need this one for my Snap[chat],” she says with a playful smirk. She emerges from her dressing area into the California sunshine in a stunning macramé Giambattista Valli gown with an asymmetrical hem and a distinctly bridal feel. She’s walking slowly, with a tiny, almost imperceptible lift at the end of each step, as if she’s walking down the aisle. Before the official picture is taken, she will have produced a spontaneous “snap” that involves her longtime stylist David Babaii chasing after her as she scampers about the yard, laughing and posing amid the lush blooms of this idyllic estate.
It’s close to 6 p.m. by the time the shoot wraps up, and Hudson is scheduled to attend the Saint Laurent fashion show (a one-night-only event at L.A.’s Palladium) and needs to leave in 30 minutes. “Do you mind talking to me while I get my hair and makeup done?” Hudson asks politely, scurrying into the house in a strapless lavender confection from Armani. Moments later she emerges, swaddled in a fluffy white robe, and takes a seat in a dining room chair near the window. As makeup artist Angela Levin dabs cover-up under her eyes and Babaii works a curling iron through her perfectly tousled bob, she tells me about the first time she met Garry Marshall, the director of her new comedy, Mother’s Day (in theaters April 29). “He directed my mom in Overboard , so I used to visit them all the time on the set when I was little.” And did her own kids come to see her on the set this time? “Of course,” she says, as if I had asked if her right leg spent much quality time with her left leg. “And it was just amazing to watch that circle of life.”
As Hudson starts talking about her close relationship with her two boys, Ryder, 12 (from her first marriage to Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson), and Bing, 4 (dad is Muse singer Matthew Bellamy), I’m reminded of that scene in Mean Girls in which Amy Poehler tries to bond with her daughter and her daughter’s friends, saying, “I’m not a regular mom. I’m a cool mom.” Only in Hudson’s case, she really is that cool—the kind of mom who brings her kids to the première of Kung Fu Panda 3 one day and attempts to teach them Transcendental Meditation the next. And, despite the many projects she is currently juggling—Mother’s Day, a book tour for her new wellness primer, Pretty Happy (Dey Street Books), her role as co-founder of Fabletics—Hudson still manages to find time to dance around the house with her kids almost every day. In fact, many of the family’s spontaneous performances have been captured on Instagram, where Ryder can be seen dancing the Nae Nae as a big brown bear or tearing it up to Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen.” “When we do something, he’s the first person to say, ‘Mom, you gotta post that,’" she says.
It’s a rare mother who can hold her own in a dance-off with a 12-year-old, I point out. “I was really young, like, 23, when I had Ryder,” she says. “So our relationship has always been [a little unusual]. I mean, we’re close, and I am his mom. I’m big on manners. I’m big on politeness. I’m big on gratitude. But I’m a bit of a wild mom.”
“A wild mom?” I ask.
“Yeah, as strict as I am when it comes to things like manners, Ryder sometimes has to put me in check. He and I are like buddies. He’ll turn to me and say, ‘Mom, you’re crazy for going out in that outfit.’"
A passing glance at Hudson’s Instagram reveals that she has a booming social life—and there’s nothing mumsy about her fashion choices. As FOMO-inducing shot after shot attests, Hudson is part of an L.A. girl squad that would give Regina George and her gang whiplash. “I kind of like that we’re intimidating,” she says of the posse that includes (among others) actress Sara Foster, jewelry designer Jennifer Meyer, and multihyphenate Nicole Richie. “You know, when you see a group of girls walk in that are having more fun than anyone?” Hudson, who joined Instagram in 2014, says she loves sharing intimate snapshots of her life with her 3.8 million followers. “Someone asked me, ‘Who does your Insta? It’s great!’ And I was like, ‘Are you out of your mind? I wouldn’t want anyone to touch my social media!’"
One thing she’s not particularly interested in sharing with the social universe? Her relationship status. Though the star is rumored to be dating Nick Jonas, she is tight-lipped on the subject. “Am I single?” she repeats my question out loud, smiling privately to herself, before saying very slowly and deliberately, “Yes, I am.” When I ask her how she deals with the constant public scrutiny of her personal life, she laughs. “It really feels like high school. I can’t say hello to anybody without [people speculating we’re together]. I don’t comment when I’m single because some of them are right, some of them are wrong. But I end up with everybody anyway! I’ve been linked to every one of my brother’s best friends. We’re going to do a coffee-table book of all of my ‘mystery men.’"
To read all of Hudson's cover story, including an exclusive first-person essay she wrote for the magazine, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Bad Mom,” pick up the May issue of InStyle, now available on newsstands and for digital download.