Forget everything you know about Jennifer Hawkins - behind the gorgeous gowns and glossy campaigns, she's all about keeping it real

Jennifer Hawkins is just back from her first trip to Italy - and she's glowing with the kind of golden tan you only get from the Med (or, perhaps more accurately, if you're the founder of a sell-out self-tan line). Lounging on the couch in slouchy jeans and a hoodie, she's relaxed, chatty and incredibly (okay - intimidatingly) striking - from her intense blue eyes to cheekbones Kim K would kill for.

It's three days before the Myer spring/summer '15 fashion launch when we meet to shoot Jen in an entirely different light - raw, untouched and utterly at home. It's been over a decade since the Newcastle native was crowned Miss Universe and it's easy to focus on the glittering CV she's established since then: her multiple modelling gigs, becoming the face of Myer (her most rewarding role, she says), hosting ANTM - not to mention founding a booming $10 million business empire from the ground up, from COZI to JBRONZE to J Group.

But out of the spotlight, just what is Jen like? The Myer ambassador, model and business mogul sat down with Buro to share her relationship secrets (the key is keeping it sexy), life goals and what matters to her the most.  We later discovered that Jen was dealing with the news of her mum's cancer diagnosis on the day of our shoot - proving her to be a true professional and a real trooper. This is the real Jen: uncensored and baring all.  

Related story: Runway highlights: Myer's spring/summer '15 fashion launch

1. You have so much on - how do you make it all work?
You know what, you just do. Everyone has a very busy life and I'm no different. I have my priorities: my family and Jake. I put them first and everything works around that. And if I have a day off, I really make it worthwhile.

2. What's on high rotation in your wardrobe?
Denim, absolutely. I like this shoot because it's what I would wear in my downtime. I think people  see me as wearing cocktail dresses and red carpet dresses full stop and I do like that when I go to work and I'm out there, but sometimes when you go home you just want to be in jeans and tees. The more relaxed vibe is where I'm at. I think your fashion choices change as you get older and you know yourself a little more.

3. What do you do to relax?
I hang out with Jake, we go to the beach or for a drive or we go away - we love travelling. I'm a foodie, I really love going out for dinner or lunch and just being around friends and having a glass of wine and good conversation. It's a beautiful thing. And my family, I hang out with them all the time - my mum's my best friend so I'll hang out with her a lot.

Sometimes on a Sunday I really like just lying in bed, chatting to Jake, we'll let Milly in - it's really nice just to lie in bed until lunch

4. What do you love about Jake the most?
He's just so calm and he's such a good soul. It's really hard to find that sometimes, but he's just genuinely a nice person. And he's - obviously I find him attractive and all of that side! But his heart is beautiful.

5. Who wears the pants?
No one. It kind of goes both ways. What do they say - at one stage you have the balls, and then they have the balls, and you kind of swap up. It's always nice to keep it fresh and keep it, I don't know, sexy. That's my main thing. You want to keep it sexy. And I think that's how it lasts. It might not be right but that's how I feel!

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6. Do you still get nervous before stripping down for a swimwear shoot or big show?
Yeah, definitely. Not to the stage of 'oh, I'm not prepared, I can't do it' - you need to prepare 100 per cent and then the nerves come in because I care. I care about Myer as a brand and myself and other people's expectations. But then you have to let it go, because you can only do 100 per cent. But I don't do catwalk really, only for Myer, so for me it's fun and  it mixes up the other parts of my work. And shoots - it's not easy but it's easier than other parts of my job, like hosting when you've got a big wad of script that you've got to go through, where as I turn up on set here and I'm like, this is a dream!

In bed with Jen: the Aussie star bares all

7. What does it mean to you to be a Myer ambassador?
It's so amazing: I love what I do. To represent Myer is really rewarding and I'm honoured that they trust me as a brand ambassador and face and my voice as well. It's really nice when you're not just a model and it's really nice to see a broad range of fashion from our designers and really putting them out there for the public.

8. How do you prepare physically before a show?
I assure you, I work out. I'm not like, 'I'm not going to do anything and I'll be amazing' - no. I love to do five runs a week to really feel mentally strong, and then I'll do two pilates sessions, with abs in between and a bit of arms. I ramp it up for Myer and ramp it down a couple of days just before so I can just be calm. But it's always different - on the weekend, I had it off and just went and saw my family. That's good for the soul, and then you feel refreshed.

9. What's your diet like?
I just came back from holiday to Italy so I did indulge in pasta and that was really nice, but it also let me see that I can eat all of that and if I exercise it's okay. So I came back and I've continued eating various different things - I don't say, oh I'm going to do a salad here and do protein at this time - I don't have a rigid diet. But leading up to a parade I do cut out things like alcohol the week before, processed carbs, all the boring things. And sugar, I think that's a big thing. I definitely see a difference in my skin after a week of no sugar.

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10. What are your beauty essentials?
My beauty routine is the same all the time, that's the one thing I try to keep constant. I wear a lot of moisturiser, especially now when everything's so drying, and I have lots of olive oil in my diet. I actually put coconut oil on my scalp last night just to hydrate my hair a little bit, which is always nice. And sleep. That's really important.

11. What are you most proud of?
I'm proud that I feel grounded. I feel like the industry hasn't changed me. My family unit is really strong and I feel proud of that. Family is so important to me, because if everything else fell away I'd be completely happy with that. I could easily go and lead a quiet life with Jake, I'd be sweet. But I'm also so proud of Top Model: the show was quite daunting for me and to be able to tackle that was a huge relief and an amazing experience.

12. What's next?
I want to grow JBronze. I want to see it become a household name and I want to see it go professional through [in salon] spray tanning. That's my main goal. I love working with Myer and I want to continue working with those guys, it makes life really fun. And I want to travel a lot - that was my main thing this year and I've done it. Travel changes you, it makes you free and it brings you back to yourself.

Talent: Jennifer Hawkins
Photographer: Pierre Toussaint
Fashion Editor: Philippa Moroney
Make-up: Liz Kelsh
Hair: Travis Balcke

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