The surprising rebrand of Nicole Kidman.

Nicole Kidman is one of those celebrities that seems to have lived a lot of lives.

Maybe it feels that way because we've seen her, as observers, in countless different guises over the decades: the ruthlessly aspiring newsreader in To Die For; the singing, dancing "sparkling diamond" of Moulin Rouge; the too-perfect Stepford wife; as Virginia Woolf in The Hours, complete with a prosthetic nose.

Then there's her offscreen persona: the former wife of Tom Cruise and mother of two partially estranged children. The partner to adoring husband Keith Urban, with their daughters and their sprawling property in country New South Wales.

But it's Kidman's latest reincarnation, as fashion's new muse, that's making more headlines than ever. Because you definitely haven't seen her like this yet.

The Year of Nicole kicked off with her Vanity Fair cover back in February. Kidman's photoshoot for the magazine's 28th annual Hollywood Issue received its fair share of spotlight and resulting backlash, with musings about her figure, *that* miniskirt and the potential overuse of Photoshop all factoring into the commentary.

Now, she's in the news again thanks to a new cover, for niche fashion title Perfect magazine, as the inaugural winner of the title's 'Icon Award'.

Nicole Kidman on the cover of Vanity Fair, and Perfect. Images: Vanity Fair/Perfect.


With her ultra-fit figure and bodybuilder pose, the image is as instantly iconic as it is jarring. Wearing Diesel by Glenn Martens, a brand which is also having a fashion moment, it's the antithesis of what we're used to seeing when it comes to A-list celebrities on magazine covers - if this were in the hands of Vogue, she might be in a Valentino maxi dress standing on a rooftop, captured in soft light by Annie Leibovitz. This is not that.

The combined effect of the muscles, the edgy haircut, and the fact she's doubled down on the mini with a 2.0 version have registered across the internet in a shock factor that Kidman seems to be content with courting these days. 


In July, she made a surprise appearance on the runway for buzzy brand Balenciaga's Couture show in Paris, alongside Kim Kardashian, Dua Lipa and Naomi Campbell. The moment went instantly viral, resulting in memes and hot takes all across the media and establishing her as fashion's current favourite. 

That status is only cemented by her latest head-turning photoshoot for Perfect.

So why are we so surprised by it? This is an actor – a shapeshifter – who makes a living embodying the characters assigned to her.

Maybe it's because we just don't expect it from her. From Our Nicole

There's a common thread for Hollywood veterans of Kidman's calibre for whom eventually, when the clock strikes over, the leading lady parts dry up and they're cast as supporting roles – from there it's basically Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren or bust.

But Kidman seems intent on exploring a new chapter, one where she's front and centre and surprising us at every turn.

Maybe it's also that we have a need to pigeonhole women into roles ourselves. 

Nicole Kidman is 55, she shouldn't have her abs out on a magazine cover like that, should she?


She couldn't really have those rippling muscles... could she?

Her taut face on that cover has to be photoshopped... doesn't it?

Much has been written about Kidman's 'unchanging' features; a life of vigilant sun-safety seems to have preserved her porcelain skin somewhere around the mid-thirties mark, but speculation about whatever beauty interventions she may or may not have opted into remains. Because of course it does.

With photoshoots like her latest for Perfect, it's like she's saying, 'You want to talk about my face? Wait til you see my body.'


There is nothing fashion loves more than a bit of subversion, and Kidman seems happy to hand herself over as a kind of experiment. 

In a conversation with Baz Luhrmann in Australian Vogue, she reflected on her choice to wear the infamous Miu Miu miniskirt for Vanity Fair. According to the photoshoot's stylist, Katie Grand, Kidman saw the outfit hanging on a rack and was "begging" to wear it.

"I did walk away thinking, 'What was I thinking?! That was ridiculous! What were you doing, Nicole?! And then I went, 'Eh, oh well!'' the actress told the Elvis director.

She added, "You know that part about me where I'm like, 'I'm just going to do what I want to do, ultimately!' And just have some fun. And just commit, like really commit when I show up, do it. But there's got to be some fun. And sometimes it's going to work, and sometimes it isn't. But I love the idea of being bold and not fitting into a box."

There you have it. She's having fun, evolving, dodging our boxes – and it's fascinating to watch. Which, come to think of it, isn't that surprising at all.

Tamara is Mamamia's head of lifestyle. For more fashion commentary and style content, follow her on Instagram.