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My life in colour: with Cate Underwood

Colour is fundamental to the work of photographer and model Cate Underwood. Here she explains how it shapes her perception of the world and how inspired she is by the way in which Fabergé represents colour in its iconic jewellery

Cate wears Fabergé’s Impératrice Ruby Tassel Pendant; Impératrice Ruby Tassel Earrings; Compliquée Peacock Black Timepiece; Colours of Love 18k Rose Gold Oval Ruby Fluted Ring with Diamond Set Shoulders; Colours of Love Multicoloured 18k Yellow Gold Fluted Band; Colours of Love Ruby 18k Rose Gold Fluted Band
Cate wears Fabergé’s Impératrice Ruby Tassel Pendant; Impératrice Ruby Tassel Earrings; Compliquée Peacock Black Timepiece; Colours of Love 18k Rose Gold Oval Ruby Fluted Ring with Diamond Set Shoulders; Colours of Love Multicoloured 18k Yellow Gold Fluted Band; Colours of Love Ruby 18k Rose Gold Fluted Band

It’s impossible to imagine life without colour. It brings us experiences, memories and visual satisfaction and is so vital in helping us to perceive the world. I also believe it defines our tastes and who we are, as well as connecting us to the things and people we love. I can’t help thinking of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, which is one of the most aesthetically pleasing and eye-catching films I’ve ever seen. It’s ingenious how he thinks “colour palette” for every scene – from interiors to objects to the clothes the actors wear. A life without colour would be a very sad life.

In the same way, I think time is one of the most important measures of our lives, especially in the modern day when everyone moves so fast.Time defines our past, present and future and frames important events. Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to the Fabergé Impératrice Ruby Tassel Pendant. I love how Fabergé has managed to pay homage to its iconic eggs in a contemporary design piece that I could wear with any outfit, day or night. The deep-red rubies strike out from the white gold and diamonds, but don’t overwhelm the delicate design. I can imagine owning this beautiful pendant for decades and each time I put it on it would trigger memories of the previous occasions I wore it.

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I think this is why we become attached to certain things – for what they have accumulated in meaning over time. My most precious item is my grandmother’s cookbook. All the recipes were meticulously collected throughout her life, modified by her and handwritten in this book that she then chose to give to me.

I’m lucky that I spend time on both sides of the camera – as a photographer and a model. As much as I love black-and-white photography, colour is one of the most important aspects of the pictures I take. I think it creates accents in composition and keeps the eye captivated.

Faberge Impératrice Ruby Tassel Pendant
Faberge Impératrice Ruby Tassel Pendant

I do appreciate good lighting but I believe that creating images is more about the importance of the narrative – it’s a form of storytelling. The pictures that stay with me are the ones that don’t conform to any given standards. They portray an unconventional aesthetic, be it through unexpected poses or body language, and while they might not necessarily be beautiful, they can be very powerful. For me, this redefines and transcends beauty. That’s why I’m a big fan of Juergen Teller, especially his photograph of a nude Kristen McMenamy with “Versace” painted on her body.

Fabergé Colours of Love Multicoloured 18k Yellow Gold Fluted Band
Fabergé Colours of Love Multicoloured 18k Yellow Gold Fluted Band

I appreciate art and the way it stimulates the imagination, but real life will always be my main source of inspiration. I’m sensitive to the world around me and what I like most about life is its raw, unrefined beauty. Summer is definitely my favourite season because of its warmth and the opportunity it gives me to spend more time close to the sea or ocean. Water is my natural element; it makes me happy and whenever I’m close to it I get a tremendous charge of energy.

Fabergé Colours of Love 18k Rose Gold Oval Ruby Fluted Ring with Diamond Set Shoulders
Fabergé Colours of Love 18k Rose Gold Oval Ruby Fluted Ring with Diamond Set Shoulders

Every new day brings new thoughts, feelings and experiences. Life isn’t black and white and I respect it all equally. If I’m happy I’ll enjoy it to the fullest, but if I’m sad that’s also OK. I think that accepting my feelings, whatever they are, allows me to remain true to myself and also helps me expand my horizons professionally. I have a great sense of curiosity and discovering new things allows me to gain more knowledge and improve myself and grow spiritually. It’s not always easy, but it works for me.

Fabergé Compliquée Peacock Black Timepiece
Fabergé Compliquée Peacock Black Timepiece

When it comes to beauty, a key question is: does it come from inside or out? Our perception of what is beautiful intrigues me – I believe that flaws can be captivating. I also think contrasts are dramatic and I love breaking boundaries between old and new, vintage and modern, male and female – both in my photography and in what I wear.

My wardrobe used to be monochrome but recently I’ve noticed it has drastically changed to an unexpected colour palette. I’ve started to wear suits in pink, blue and brown, dresses in lavender and pastel pink, and blazers and sweaters in perfect yellow. I think this is to do with my state of mind. Colour, in clothes, is brave, which is how I try to approach life. Being bold allows me to be a 360-degree artist and contribute by playing with established aesthetic codes.

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Cate wears Fabergé’s Impératrice Ruby Tassel Pendant; Impératrice Ruby Tassel Earrings; Compliquée Peacock Black Timepiece; Colours of Love 18k Rose Gold Oval Ruby Fluted Ring with Diamond Set Shoulders; Colours of Love Multicoloured 18k Yellow Gold Fluted Band; Colours of Love Ruby 18k Rose Gold Fluted Band

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