Living the model life
Kelly Gray and her husband plant roots in Shady Canyon but the coast is always in the picture
With her blonde locks and flawless skin, Gray became the advertising face of St. John, the high-end knitwear firm founded by her parents in 1962, modeling in ads as early as age 15. The Newport Harbor High School graduate earned an entrepreneurial education rising in the company, taking over as CEO before turning 30. After eventually stepping away from the $400 million-a-year enterprise, Gray launched a new line, Royal Underground, with Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx. Two years ago, Gray teamed with her mother, Marie Gray, to unveil Grayse, an Irvine-based manufacturer of colorful, upscale women’s apparel. Now 48, Kelly Gray is newly married to photographer and graphic artist Scott Hulett.
My neighborhood: Shady Canyon in Irvine. I moved there 16 months ago from Corona del Mar.
Why I live there: It’s a lifestyle change, one you embrace when you’re married. There are places to walk and tennis courts. They have an Olympic-size pool, heated year-round. My husband, when he was in high school, was captain of the swim team – he certainly loves the pool. We walk in the mornings in the canyons and green hills. It feels very different from living on the beach.
Only restaurant I can’t live without: The Winery in Newport Beach. There are very few places where you can enjoy fine dining on a patio overlooking the harbor. On a warm evening in the summer, there’s no place I’d rather be.
My perfect day: I love my job. A perfect day for me is a great day at the office and a great evening with my husband. My day starts around 6:30, which means I get off work a little early. Maybe it’s taking a hike in Bommer Canyon or going with my husband to an afternoon showing at the Port Theater in Corona del Mar.
Favorite get-away destination: Aspen. It’s kind of like Orange County but with snow and mountains. The people all seem interested in great food, skiing and being incredibly social. I love that it’s a small town, a town you can do on foot. It’s a staple for us during Christmas week. I also love Miami.
My sanctuary: My kitchen. Task-oriented challenges seem to ease my stress. I enjoy cooking incredibly complex dishes. My husband and I learned to make lasagna from scratch, noodles and all, and boeuf bourguignon, the Julia Child recipe. The degree of difficulty makes the reward more worthwhile.
Favorite late-night haunt: Quiet Woman in Corona del Mar. It’s a perfect place to go for a late drink – a great place to people watch. It’s darker. The style is timeless. You kind of lose all sense of time, and that in itself kind of relaxes you. Plus, you can get a cheeseburger at 1 o’clock in the morning.
Favorite place to shop that isn’t a chain: Tanaka Farms next to Strawberry Farms Golf Club in Irvine. You can find me there on any Saturday. I go for pumpkins in the fall, Christmas trees in the winter, and fresh fruit from March on.
Angels or Dodgers? I want to say Angels, but my aunt is a huge Dodgers fan. I honestly don’t know how to answer.
Red or white? I don’t drink wine. I like Tito’s vodka. It’s the best-quality vodka on the market right now. I discovered it on our honeymoon in Miami.
Best celebrity encounter: That’s easy: when I met Gregory Peck at the Vanity Fair Oscar party years ago. I had a crush on him since I watched “Duel in the Sun” with my father as a little girl.
My pet peeve: Lack of customer service – be it in clothing or food or beverage. Rudeness, that would be another one.
Fashion designer or label you most admire: At the moment it would be Balmain. Olivier Rousteing, the designer there, is incredibly talented and original – not just in the design of his clothing, but in how he approaches marketing and advertising. He’s our new, up-and-coming Tom Ford. His Instagrams are phenomenal.