5 minutes with: Davina Catt – writer, director and model
-Apr 9, Jenny Paul, Beauty -
Davina Catt is a writer, director and model whose work has featured in glossy magazines across the world. She has written for titles including British Vogue, The Financial Times, The Observer and The Evening Standard.
She has also written and directed a short film and written, directed and presented a documentary.
Davina’s work has been featured in Harpers Bazaar, Interview, Vogue Italia, ID and she has starred in campaigns for designers including Ugg boot and Lara Bohinc jewellery.
If that wasn’t enough Davina also has a degree in English Literature from University College London.
We were delighted to get the chance to interview Davina and she’s most definitely someone that we are inspired by and look up to here at Lumity.
Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I was born in London, grew up in the countryside, but have also travelled a lot, including spending time in Europe and India, and I have lived in the States but ultimately I am English!
What’s your idea of happiness?
That’s a big question. I would say it’s one that constantly evolves and develops at different stages of my life – I actually think it’s impossible to define.
I know as a searching, perfectionist type person, it can be a battle to find contentment – equally I’ve come to the conclusion, it’s best not to look for happiness but to live out your life and it will come to you.
Your career is an incredible and inspiring list of accomplishments. Can you share some stand out moments?
As I have a long and fairly varied career, people always ask me about one defining moment.
I would definitely say there isn’t one big moment but a series of small steps and achievements which stand out as you keep moving forward – the most satisfying thing is accomplishments coming good when you have stayed true to yourself (very important!) and never wavered from your vision.
Moments that stand out are probably firsts – including being on set as a child as an extra with hugely revered actors in films my grandfather produced, the first time I saw my name in print and watched people buy the magazine on the shelf, the surreal moment my documentary launched and I was sitting in the cinema watching my own creation – and then receiving a Bafta listing!
I think also because I have always been ‘driving’ my own career, I have had a lot of personal, enlightening but sometimes unexpected encounters with great people along the way. These include spending 3 days and time in a hotel room with French actress, Isabelle Huppert who shortly after won the Golden Globe. Interviewing Stephen Fry for my documentary on his way to a suit fitting for his Bafta presenting, to the incredible people I have creatively connected with along the way and now consider great friends!
What was working with Rankin for Vogue Italia like? Those photos are beautiful…
That was actually two separate projects.
My favourite photograph and artwork in my flat is the ‘eyescape’ portrait Rankin took of me. It’s a particular series to him – where he puts the camera right deep inside your eye and the result is a blown up and striking photograph of just your pupil and iris – the colours are profound. He’s exhibited them in Paris.
…What did you learn?
I always prefer working with photographers who put me at my ease. However many shoots I have done, I always need to remind myself to relax into it!
What’s the best advice you have ever been given and by whom?
I am not someone that has been given a huge amount of advice along the way. I am a ‘learn on the job’ ‘make your own way’ type of person.
Apart from beauty and wellness advice, I would say the best work advice I have been given was from an Editor when I first started and which I still use today, ‘don’t over think it.’
As for style, that is so personal, but I don’t focus on trends but more on shapes and styles that work on my body – uncomfortable is not a good outlook on anybody!
What’s your daily routine like?
I am a big exercise person – for clearing the mind just as much as physical benefits – and I like to go for a run in the morning as it sets off the day well. I also always have outfits and wardrobe pieces running through my mind so I don’t need to specifically plan day to day in the morning.
Do you have a set beauty and wellness routine? If so what are you go to favourites?
I have an attitude and approach to beauty and wellness that has been hammered into me, passed down through generations of women in my family – and I am really grateful for the precedent set.
My grandmother spent a lot of time in Pinewood and passed down the tips on how to do the best for yourself with a long term approach, yet with little time often moving sets, locations etc.
It’s really very simple just to ‘invest in your skin and wellbeing and it will pay you back.’ I have been using good, natural products, sparingly, since forever and that’s it really.
I have sensitive skin so I don’t like anything too cloggy or oily and I avoid retinol. Also I favour serums over creams – that’s why the Lumity set is so perfect for me, it’s so easy on the go with little time and it also encourages me to drink water (my big downfall) with the morn/eve supplements!
At the moment we are celebrating strong women. Who is your ultimate strong woman and why? This can be anyone from a friend, relative, yourself or a famous person either living or dead?
It’s too difficult to narrow down to one! I like women over history who have suffered personal and painful experiences and used their art as a platform to explore and process these – the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Frida Kahlo and in particular Hedy Lamarr, old glamour movie star turned inventor (without her we wouldn’t have wifi) whose finally being celebrated in the recent documentary.
What inspires you? We have noticed you’re a bit of a nostalgia fan. (Brooke Shields jumping on the back of a motorbike in that white swimsuit and heading off into the great unknown is our idea of heaven right now…..)
Yes that was a 90’s Bruce Weber image characterised by his ‘beauty of youth’ vision yet remains so timeless. I feel there’s a strong sense of nostalgia segueing into fashion, TV, film, art currently (or perhaps it’s just me!) for the freedom’s of a time before social media and a continuous lens into people’s lives. Beyond that, I am inspired everything around me, by all forms of storytelling – anything that I can personally find a connection or in some way relate to.
What’s your current fashion obsession?
I am not a big trend person – I actually think fashion has currently become too ‘fashionable’ for it’s own good. I would describe my style as quite pared back – the white tee, jean basics, and you will always find a couple of velvet suits in my wardrobe.
Currently I am relieved that mules and kitten heels are back (I can no longer wear heels from modelling days) and that I can wear my white trainers even with a glam evening outfit.
On top of that I have more variations of sunglass styles than I knew possible!
If you enjoyed this find out why Helena Christensen believes that beauty is about far more than how you look. And, why Isabella Rossellini believes we should seek pleasing ourselves rather than chasing youth.
Lede image: Davina Catt wears a patent trench by Burberry photographed by Damien Fry, make up by Cristabel Draffin at Dalston House Studio