More than 20 people, including a small Keeping Up with the Kardashiansfilm 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.”
Clearly, it’s working. With more than 50 million Instagram followers, 20 million Twitter followers, and 18 million Facebook fans, Khloé has become a cultural movement in her own right, successfully forging a niche away from the rest of her family.
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.”