More than 20 people, including a small Keeping Up with the Kardashians film crew, are buzzing around a makeshift dressing room nestled high in the Hollywood Hills. Behind several floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking a hazy downtown Los Angeles, I watch as Khloé Kardashian takes one last look at herself in the relaxed Rosetta Getty dress that her stylist, Monica Rose, pulled out for her.
In mock appraisal, Khloé cocks her head to one side. Soft strands of her usually poker-straight or perfectly-curled hair float gently across her shoulders—the careful, understated handiwork of her long-time hairstylist, Cesar Ramirez. Today, at the request of HarpersBAZAAR.com’s fashion director, Kerry Pieri, Khloé has agreed to wear minimal makeup, a natural nude nail lacquer, and no shoes. Customarily seen in platform heels, Khloé is standing barefoot when she announces to no one in particular, “I think I’m ready!” before quietly padding past an indoor waterfall onto the cliff-perched patio of the infamous Goldstein Residence, the setting for today’s shoot—her most high-fashion yet.
All eyes are on the 31-year-old, who, since her split with Lamar Odom in 2013, has shed nearly 40 pounds with the help of her personal trainer, Gunnar Peterson. The rich terracotta Getty dress perfectly cinches her Sophia Loren curves as she effortlessly shifts from one foot to the other, throwing sultry glances at the camera. The hovering crew and looming television microphones unfaze her, yet Khloé is aware she has everyone’s attention.
“I definitely think the fashion industry, and people in general, look at me more now that I’ve lost weight,” she admits, in between takes. “Even on shoots, I would never have options for clothing. There would always be this attention on Kourtney and Kim, but I was too much work for [stylists] or they had nothing in my size. I wasn’t even that crazy big!”
That’s why Khloé only works with Rose, a Kardashian stylist since season one. “At my fattest, Monica would always come with racks of clothes and make me feel special. She never told me, ‘Oh, they don’t have that in your size,'” says Khloé. “Other people actually said, ‘I just can’t work with you’—because I was too big. That always hurt my feelings, of course.” Today, those same stylists are now approaching Khloé, offering to dress her for events and public appearances. “I’m just like, ‘Fuck you. I’m not going to reward your bad behavior.'”
Khloé’s unfiltered, outspoken sincerity is something of a signature. She is comfortable airing her dirty laundry in a way that her sisters—Kourtney, Kim, Kendall and Kylie—often aren’t. “People think I’m more ‘real’,” she says. “I’m the first person to say if I didn’t do something right or that I could have done something differently. I share so much, maybe more in-depth than my sisters, and I think people appreciate that.”
Her open-book policy is not a ploy to grow her fan base —”I don’t try to do things to get people to like me,” she says—but rather an effective tool in setting the record straight. Khloé is no longer able to hide from the media and its circadian tabloid rhythm. “The thing I dislike the most [about being a Kardashian] is the judgment on us,” she admits. “If I want to go out with a group of friends, it’s never as harmless as that. There has to be some story the next day that I’m dating somebody.”
That kind of spotlight can be tough when it comes to romance, she says. “I used to wonder why celebrities only dated celebrities, but when you’re in it you understand. You feel a little safer,” says Khloé, who filed for divorce from NBA star Odom a second time in May. (She says she and Odom still have a “really good” relationship, and insists he will “always” be in her life.) Since the separation, Khloé has publicly dated rapper French Montana and, most recently, NBA player James Harden. “If you’re seen with someone on your first date, you’re automatically getting married the next day. It’s so extreme! So when you’re two celebrities, you can keep it really quiet at first, to see if you even like each other. Dating someone in your world is a little easier.”
Fame puts friendships in jeopardy, too, and forging new bonds is an ongoing battle. “Our family has way more information about [us] online than any other, and it’s always so bizarre when you meet someone and see their perception of you. Sometimes I feel like I have to prove people wrong, and that’s weird. It’s easy to meet people, but you don’t know if you’re meeting them for the right reasons. Knowing who to trust is hard.”
Back in the dressing room, Khloé eyes a flowing Juan Carlos Obando maxi dress (and a soft Balenciaga trench that Rose wants to pair it with) with suspicion. Quietly, she jokes that she didn’t lose 40 pounds to wear “a silk sack”—but she is happy to be proven wrong and puts it on without protest.
An ardent fan of bodycon, Khloé naturally gravitates towards form-fitting outfits; many of them designed by her good friend Olivier Rousteing at Balmain. (“We love Olivier, we love Balmain. It was all very authentic and organic how my sisters and I built a relationship with him, we were just fans of his work,” she says.) Like her sisters, Khloé favors sleek pencil skirts and tight tops, rather than loose outfits. For a long time, her favorite go-to item was a miniskirt that showed “the skinniest part” of her body—her legs—but now she says she doesn’t need to show skin to feel sexy: “I will wear a turtleneck bodysuit and jeans and feel really good. That, to me, is effortless sex appeal.”
With the Balenciaga trench draped languidly off one shoulder and the cameras rolling, Khloé glides from her dressing room to the pool. A subtle thigh-high slit in the maxi dress reveals quick glimpses of her long, toned legs. If she is feeling at all self-conscious about the choice of outfit, it doesn’t show.
Still, I’m curious to know—does Khloé Kardashian have insecurities? “I like to say I don’t care what people say about me, but that’s not true,” she says, almost regretfully. “Not wanting to go to certain places because I wonder what will be written about me the next day—I hate that I carry that with me.” Then there is Instagram, where a typical outfit post of Khloé’s can garner upward of 5,000 comments—and she does read the comments. “I think people who say they don’t are lying,” she says. “What’s sad is that I can read 10 beautiful comments and then one bad one and I’m like, ‘Ugh!'”
A recent example: After posting a picture of herself in a mini dress, one commenter mentioned her “horrible” thighs. “That was the only mean comment!” Khloé says, exasperated. The next day, though, she announced to her trainer that she wanted to work on her inner thighs. “I know I don’t have fat thighs,” she laughs, “but I was so pissed that I let that comment affect me. The fact that I’m even saying it the next morning to my trainer makes me irritated with myself.”
She never set out to lose weight, in fact—because she didn’t believe it was possible for her to do so. When she began going to Equinox in the affluent Los Angeles neighborhood of Woodland Hills, it was a strategic way to escape her troubled personal life. “My home [with Odom] was dark and toxic,” she says. “At the time, my family didn’t know what I was going through. It was the biggest secret I’ve kept. I just needed a place to go.”
She couldn’t hide out at her mother’s house—”she would start asking too many questions”—and she was too scared to find sanctuary at a hotel (“the paparazzi would see me and it would look shady”), so she simply started going to the gym. “They had a TV and I could watch The Real Housewives on an elliptical,” Khloé laughs. “No one talked to me. I loved that solitude.” Then, slowly, she began to lose weight. Soon after, she sought out the services of Peterson, known for training Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie and Sofia Vergara. Now, the reality star works out three to five times a week and credits much of her weight loss to a renewed focus on health, rather than her clothing size. “I never thought about the number,” she says. “When I started seeing that I could lose weight—because I just thought my body would never change—I started taking it more seriously and eating better.”
She favors Pilates and SoulCycle, but concedes that circuit training “and really intense cardio” gives her the best results. “I’m a beast at the gym. I’m super competitive and I’m a sweater. I’m like, ‘Don’t fuck with me and don’t mess up my routine,'” she laughs. Having someone push her to her limit—usually her sister Kourtney—also helps. “I love that we can work out together. Because Kim sort of prances and is super cute and gorge, while Kourtney and I are dripping wet.” The pair can’t go a week without exercising, “otherwise we feel like shit,” she says. “We’re so mean to ourselves, we’re like, ‘Oh our butts are hanging low! And our arms!’ And literally it’s been a week—I’m sure not much has changed.”
Despite what Keeping Up with the Kardashians portrays (family feuds and dramatic bickering), Khloé’s close relationship with her family is what feeds her soul, she says. “Most people see [their families] on holidays. We see each other every single day because it’s part of our job. I love that, I really do,” she explains. “Our show has brought us closer together and I’m able to witness moments I never would if we all had jobs in our individual spaces.” Family is the reason Khloé, who says she was “pushed into it,” agreed to take part in the E! reality show, which first aired in 2007.
“Kourtney and I didn’t want to do the show,” she admits. “We weren’t anti the show, but we were so obsessed with our clothing store [DASH, the clothing and accessories boutique founded by Khloé, Kourtney and Kim in 2006], and I couldn’t imagine having to give that up.” But after E! promised Khloé they would film inside DASH, she agreed. To her surprise, she enjoyed it. “That’s why season one is so brilliant—because we didn’t really care. Kourtney and I would say anything and do anything. We didn’t realize it was going to be so big. Nobody did.”
Khloé’s half-sisters, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, were just ten and 12 respectively when the first episode aired. Though Khloé says her younger siblings “love their lives,” she admits that growing up in the public eye has been tough on them. “Kendall handles it so incredibly well, but I think Kylie—she’s a lot like me, just wanting to hang out with her friends and do things any normal 18-year-old can do, like go to the mall. Usually [18-year-olds] are only subject to judgment within their own circle. For Kylie, things are thrown on the front page on so many news outlets, but no one stops to think: this is an 18-year-old’s life. She’s just trying to figure it out.”
Would she ever opt out of the show? “If I wanted to, I could,” she says, “but I love doing our shows—it’s the media scrutiny I don’t like.” In an alternative life, Khloé, who has “always wanted to work with kids,” would like to help foster children, or children in need. For now, though, she is happy building her multi-million-dollar empire, which will soon include an upcoming denim line (details to be released later this year). And she would also like to see Kendall walk in a fashion show—something she’s never done, thanks to work conflicts. “Last year it was X Factor, then my talk show; things that I couldn’t get out of, so I missed all the fun! I’m just going to have to tell some job, ‘Sorry, you can’t book me!'” she says. And with that, Khloé is ready for her next outfit, a Tom Ford spring trench draped over an elegant silk slip. Looks like the internet will have to make room for one more Kardashian style influencer, after all.