Why Carolyn Murphy Prefers Staying Classic to Keeping Up with Trends

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Photo: Courtesy

It was tough not to be transfixed by the endless view of the city’s downtown bustle from inside Carolyn Murphy’s lush, cream-colored penthouse suite at New York’s James Hotel last week. But when the model glided into the room like a heroine from a glossed over '90s film, our attention immediately turned her gentle aire of elegance.

In the past the beauty has lent her Americana DNA to front campaigns of Estée Lauder, Oscar de la Renta, and Calvin Klein. Now, the 42-year-old talent has teamed up with UGG to serve as the ambassador for the brand’s Classic Luxe line, the first collection of slimmer, reimagined classics that the brand has released in 37 years.

Photographed by John Olins, Murphy shines in a series of relaxed campaign images that highlight the new goat suede and Merino-wool styles. “I got to lounge around all day in great clothes and boots and be myself, which was really nice,” Murphy told InStyle of her photo shoot. As the model explained, these sheepskin-lined boots are designed to become instant wardrobe classics and are available in colors like camel, blue, purple, black, grey, and maroon. Below, she opens up about her love for UGG, what every woman should have in her wardrobe, and why her approach to social media is a shy one.

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How did the collaboration come about?
"Well, my agent called and said that they were wanting to work on this new collection, the Classic Luxe Collection. Of course, my first question was, 'I grew up with UGG and I have UGG boots, I wear them, but what’s Classic Luxe?' And she said, 'In Milan, it’s always the special Merino sheepskin, but it’s more refined. The shapes are definitely going to be more wearable and fashion forward.' And I said, ‘Alright! Sounds great.’ And, of course, Josh Olins was shooting and he said, ‘You can have freedom on creating the look that you want for the shoot.’ So when I got to the shoot and saw the actual boot collection I was super excited."

Did you do anything differently to prepare for the shoot?
"I have my routine of at least making sure I’ve had a shower and moisturizing my skin and getting a good night’s sleep, but other than that, no. It’s really the chemistry between everybody on the set. It’s such a collaboration always to work with the photographer and the team and the designers and the stylists. And that’s what I love about my job. I’m really happy to be there and I enjoy what I do. I enjoy seeing the pictures when they come out and, of course, I want to make whatever client I’m working with happy, but it just helps when you have an authentic connection to the brand, and I do with UGG. It was pretty effortless."

What’s your first memory with UGG?
"My uncles are surfers and they went to UCSB in Santa Barbara, which is the college there, and they surfed Rincon. So we were given UGG boots at a really young age. I’m 42 and we were given them when I was like 10. So it’s way before anybody was wearing them at the Malibu Country Mart and getting their paparazzi shot in them, we had them. I think having that connection to the brand and then, of course, being a surfer. When I would get out of the water surfing in California that was one of the first things I would do—put my UGG boots on to get my feet warm."

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Why do you love UGG boots so much?
"I can’t always just be in the Oscar de la Renta campaign, because there is that side to me too. There’s a duality that we all have. So, you know, part of the fun of what I do in being able to endorse certain products, especially now, is that there is a connection. I did grow up with Estée Lauder and I do use their products. I love Oscar de la Renta. I love putting on a red lipstick to dress up. But I also really love wearing a pair of UGG boots and a pair of jeans on my day off when I’m just relaxing. And I think it’s fine to be a little bit of everything and do a little bit of everything."

How can you style to boots to be more chic?
"With this new collection, the silhouettes are more refined and fashion forward, so it’s easy to put on like a leather pant and slip on your boot. I think having that new silhouette will enable women to play with it a little more and have her own interpretation. And, of course, we have some great colors, which are super fun. But I could see wearing any of the boots with any length of skirt, you know, it just depends on your style. And I think the leather pant is obviously the go-to, outside of a pair of jeans, which is super fun."

How would you describe your personal style?
"Very classic, timeless, not fussy at all. I don’t want to be overwhelmed when I open my closet doors. I just want to have my go-to pieces and then I will switch it up with buying new shoes and handbags. And a red lipstick, of course."

What should every woman have in her wardrobe?
"I think having a pair of UGG boots is super important because even if you try to deny it, you know that you need them. Also, a camel coat, white button down, pair of vintage Levi’s, V-neck sweaters in all shapes, colors, pencil skirts. I like to keep everything really basic. I think the accessories are where you can probably play a little bit more, at least for me. But I still find myself going back to the most classic, non-hardware type of handbag and shoe, which is also why the boots are really great. They’re just easy. I like things easy. If you open your closet and it’s not so overwhelming and you have your key pieces and then you just add a pop of color with a great pair of shoes or a handbag—that makes it so much easier. And keeping up with trends is really hard. At least I don’t have the time for that."

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Do you have any summer plans you’re most looking forward to?
"I don’t have any big plans for summer. As long as I’m somewhere in nature. We definitely have our adventures where we’ll go to an exotic place or maybe we’ll go somewhere that has a historical element that’s over in Europe somewhere. This year we had big plans to go down to Guatemala and do community service. My daughter is being raised in New York City. It’s really important that she sees the real world and gets out there and gives back. But at this point it just looks like we’re just going to be riding horses and not getting on an airplane and just keeping a little bit more close to home. It’s been a lot of travel the last few months, so sometimes just doing nothing is great."

Do you enjoy Instagramming your travels?
I have trepidation around it because anything self-promoting, I can talk about other brands ‘til the cows come home, but to promote myself is a little bit awkward. And that’s really what people want to see. I try to do it where it’s not so voyeuristic and I’m not giving too much away. But I’ll have to work on that because I only have little glimpses. And then sometimes I’ll get shy and I’ll take something down and I’m like, ‘Oh, that was too much.’ My daughter gets mad because I’ll go to the Met Ball and I’ll come home and the next day I’ll be like, 'Oh, Katy Perry and I were sitting in the booth and then Madonna came and sat on me.’ And she’s sitting there going, ‘Well, why didn’t you take any pictures?’ and I feel like when I’m in those situations, they’re fun and I love them for what they are but it’s not necessarily something that I feel like I want to share with the world."

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The UGG Classic Luxe collection is now available at uggaustralia.com and inside select UGG stores.

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