A Lowcountry Classic Profile Featuring ...Kerstin Yannarell

Success, Love and Magic

It started at age two. Spreading magic, that is. On front covers and between pages of major magazines, perky Kerstin Moander, an incredibly charming child model, stole Swedish hearts. As enticing at ten years as she was at two when she began modeling, Kerstin considered runways "normal and not at all frightening."

Working for several major magazines during summer vacations, the aspiring arts major exhibited her many talents in the field. She concentrated on pencils and brushes. "I always loved art and wanted to be an art director at a fashion magazine like my half sister," she said. "My father was manager of a large print shop and publishing house, and provided a great education for me in the arts."

Climbing the ladder with a degree in graphic arts, Kerstin jumped into the publishing world, serving as art director for various magazines. "I found designing the look of a magazine, the layout, bringing forward what was important to be fascinating." Continually exhibiting a flair for fashion, cooking and interior design, Kerstin excelled in each of her positions, eventually becoming Second Editor of the Swedish magazine Husmodern (House Mother/Wife) from 1967-1975, when another outstanding opportunity knocked on her door. She moved to the South of Sweden to take over the editorship of a small magazine in Malmo, Hemmets Journal. Once again working her magic, she developed it into the top selling magazine in Sweden (America's version of Ladies Home Journal), receiving an honorary award from her country's Prime Minister.

Her busy career carried her all over Europe; then a trip to Paris changed her life. "Rocco (Rex) and I met while I was covering a fashion show. He was such a charming man, and I found him to be fascinating," she said. "He invented the mini bar for hotels and was in Paris negotiating an international business arrangement. It was definitely love at first sight!" declared Kerstin in her charming Swedish accent. She cocked her head and her eyes twinkled, "The energy between us was magnificent, and we shared so many interests. The challenge was: he lived in the U.S., and I was in Sweden. With the distance and our busy careers, it seemed impossible for us; but we just saw things in a positive way, even when it sometimes looked dark."

When love comes to call, the doors of possibility fly open. The couple expertly balanced their spiraling careers and the magic of their love, traveling Europe together. They searched for answers while all of Sweden waited breathlessly. "Because it is such a small country, our romance was usually front page news," laughed Kerstin. "My associates were speechless over my announcement in 1982 to resign the magazine, marry Rex and move to England. Knowing it would be difficult to find a replacement, I agreed to remain on board as a consultant for awhile."

Shocked, her staff made a bet: they gave her three weeks. How, they puzzled, could one of Sweden's most famous editors give up a career in which she was passionately involved to be a housewife in England? They decided she would return to the job she loved. Their mistake was overlooking an important material fact. Magic had struck. When Swedish-born Kerstin Moander met Italian millionaire, Rocco Yannarell, the world exploded, sprinkling a continuous flow of stardust on the international couple. Her staff at the famous Hemmets Journal lost their bet!

From the early sixties, Rex had visited Hilton Head Island to play golf, so the jet set couple made frequent trips to visit friends and felt the island's magic calling. Twelve years ago, they left England, retiring to the beautiful beaches and challenging golf courses they loved, building an enchanting home in Hilton Head Plantation.

Filled with the couple's eclectic, international tastes and Kerstin's lovely paintings, their home, with a heavenly view of Port Royal Sound, is frequently filled with friends and family. Because Kerstin and Rocco share a love of cooking international cuisines, family and friends are often served scrumptious Swedish and Italian delights. Kerstin adores whipping up something wonderful for their lavish dinner parties, insisting, "Cooking, like painting is so creative!" The couple golf on a regular basis and are studying Italian together to further the enjoyment of their many trips to Italy and abroad, emphasizing, "It means so much to both of us to do things together, and we have as much fun as when we met!"

Having defeated cancer twice, Kerstin firmly believes, "My faith was the key. Along with Rocco's love, support and good care, I pulled through it all. I felt God was holding my hand, walking with me. You know your life can change in a second, so whatever it is you desire, do it now!" she wisely advises. "We plan to stay healthy, continue to travel and play golf. We feel it's very important to keep in close touch with our family and friends, appreciate the birds that sing every morning and live every day to its fullest. Because we share the same values and approach to daily life, talk with one another, give to each other rather than take, our marriage has been magical," she continued. "Rocco always makes me laugh! He is God's gift to me, and for that I'm always thankful!"