It began in Montauk. On the long drive home to Manhattan from the South Fork’s most bucolic beach town – an idyll skirting off an uproarious metropolis – our in-house fashion director AiIeen Marr is sifting through image selects in the front seat of the SUV. Our cover model Stephanie “Bambi” Northwood-Blyth is studying – a three-year degree in business, majoring in social entrepreneurship – in the backseat. “It’s good that I can do this from anywhere,” says Bambi, her tone chirpy, upbeat. “It’s super challenging to stay motivated but it keeps me disciplined.”
While some may associate the 27-year-old model and her famous brushed-up arches with the type of growing nightlife scene Montauk has spawned in recent years, there’s a reason that’s now in the rear-vision mirror. Her uproot to New York isn’t a new thing – at 19-years-old she called this city home for five years – but alas, it’s an important one. A colourful and highly-publicised marriage breakdown with designer Dan Single has propelled an energy shift back towards her career and a return visit to the fashion capital – a renaissance of sorts – and thus the fierce resurgence of the Bambi brand. But in a fast-paced, hard – and at times dirty – melting pot where the hustle is only as real as the shades of characters who inhibit it, where virtues or vices are ignited, is it possible to start over? Bambi says yes. “New York takes you out of your comfort zone,” she says. “At this point in my life, it’s really perfect for where I am.”
“I’ve thrown myself into work and reaped the benefits,” she continues. “Moving back to New York, you’re right in the thick of it. I’ve really been lucky to have great friends, great things and great work come out of this city. There’s a wonderful community of people here and it’s just lovely to be surrounded by creative, positive types.” The notions of “community” and “neighbourhood” are terms Bambi references a lot during our chat. Having good people around is clearly so important to her. While we’ve seen her career take her to the heights of Chanel, Balenciaga and Calvin Klein, the every-day happenings of Bambi centre upon hipster enclave Soho; energetic, gentrifying, diverse, vibing – and of course, prohibitively expensive.
“When you find your local places, your coffee shop and your gym, it does feel like a little neighbourhood,” Bambi says, there’s that word again. You’ll find her at San Ambroeus for dinner, a Milanese restaurant on Lafayette – “there’s lovely outdoor seating and you always bump into a friend or two there”. Weekend work-outs are at Equinox on Prince with the new spate of cool Aussies in NYC. An iced matcha and shrimp salad with the crew is Bambi’s pick at petite Australian café Ruby’s but, may it be known, “[fellow model and friend] Jordan Barrett is obsessed with the pancakes!” For a good night, she’s directing us to The Flower Shop on the Lower East Side with a promise of “once you get inside, it’s decorated beautifully!”. A trip to the flea markets in Brooklyn or to the Guggenheim museum in Uptown are also on the cards. It’s a good base.
“At this time in my life I feel way more in control and independent – compared with in my late teens and early ‘20’s.”
“I guess I hadn’t really lived by myself until last year and so it was weird, new confronting and challenging,” says Bambi. “Now, with time and more experience, I have a stronger sense of who I am and what I want to do with my life. I feel more focused in my career, I’m studying and am speaking up about a condition I’ve lived with for over half my life – Type One Diabetes – and an on the global council for Beyond Type 1. I know myself better and through going through the hard times have developed a great resilience across my ‘20’s and am settled in this moment.”
They say the comeback is always stronger than the setback and in this city, Bambi’s career is set to soar. Resilience really is an incredible power for any woman when discovered deep down. While our little tour of New York with Bambi 2.0 began in Montauk, the rest is still unwritten. “If you’re on the Lower East Side and the gym is in Soho, you have to come to a class,” Bambi coaxes before breaking down each workout and its timetable. “See, you have no excuse.” Like we needed one, anyway.