The world’s oldest supermodel still knows how to work it
It's not every day that the world's oldest supermodel is draped in your jewels!
Sunday Style wrote a great article on the life of this iconic model. Read below
Harlequin Market | HQM faux pearl and Austrian crystal drop earrings - Goldtone
British model Daphne Selfe.
Photography: Gary Heery
Source: Sunday Style
Styling: Meg Gray
Sunday Style / Daphne Selphe
DAPH! Gimme a Christine Keeler on that chair, can you? calls photographer Gary Heery to model Daphne Selfe.
Hes referring to the 1960s Lewis Morley portrait of the notorious British party girl at the centre of the Profumo scandal, in which Keeler (naked) straddles a chair backwards, so the furniture provides a modicum of modesty and her endless legs stretch out on either side. Wowee. Selfe (not naked) gets the reference immediately, high-kicks her own enviable leg over the chairs back and strikes a pose.
At this point I think its pertinent to mention that Selfe is 86. Although to say so makes me cringe, because shes of a generation raised never to ask a womans age. I never knew how old my own mother was for years, she says. It wasnt discussed. But its different now. Although Ive still got friends who wont say, in general, once they get to 80 they are happy to tell you.
Anyway, about that high kick. Its the yoga, says her agent, Chantal Murray. And she used to be a dancer, of course. Murray tells me a story about how, after the first earthquake hit Nepal in April, the agency, Models 1, staged a charity spinathon in the office. Selfe happened to walk in on this, hopped on a spare bike and did the entire class without breaking a sweat. Evidence! laughs Murray, showing me a snap on her phone.
I ask Selfe about this later, and she says, Oh yes, that bike was riding me! It was very funny. Not like mine, Ive got one at home; its very old and rickety, but its enough for me to do my 15 minutes of pedalling in the morning. Selfe routinely follows her bike sessions with ballet and yoga moves before breakfast. I adore exercise. I miss it if I dont do it. I dont think a lot of people bother, but I never wanted to be one of those types who dont move. Couldnt bear it.
You could never accuse Selfe of that. Shes just nipped over to Sydney from London to shoot the new OPSM eyewear campaign, a job that yesterday saw her on-set for eight hours straight. And she still found time to visit the Opera House. Well, Im not going to come all the way here and miss that, am I? Youve got to do what you can while you can.
Selfe started modelling in the 1940s after winning a competition in a local magazine. Was she nervous? I didnt care one way or another; it was just something to do. But it turned out the photographer was quite famous Gilbert Adams, hed photographed the royal family. He taught me how to behave with the camera.
Selfes first catwalk job, for a department store, soon followed. She was subbed in at the last minute They were one short. Was she any good? Apparently! Ive got an upright posture, and I look all right. Obviously I wore the clothes fairly well, and the girls all said, Ooh, why dont you come to our agency and learn? In those days you did three weeks training, so off I went. She learnt to apply her own camera-ready make-up and fix her own hair. There was none of this sitting about in a chair, getting pampered.
Selfe made her modelling comeback aged 70, when the edgy British fashion brand Red or Dead put a call out for an older model for its London fashion week show. From that, a few weeks later, this stylist said Vogue is doing an article on ageing. They liked the look of me and I was photographed by Nick Knight. The scout from Models 1 was there and said, We want you on our books. It got busier and busier, and here I am.
Since then shes worked with Mario Testino and Rankin, and starred in a Dolce & Gabbana campaign and in the pages of Harpers Bazaar. She says its right place, right time stuff. Old is the new black!
When she married, Selfe gave up modelling Thats what you did in those days. But she liked working too much to stop at home. Anyway, she had a nanny to help with the three children. Selfes husband worked in TV production, and one day a colleague asked if Selfe fancied being an extra on a show. She did! She spent years doing extras work, and even appeared in two Bond films. I was not a Bond girl, though. Did she never yearn for leading roles? No, not really, because I havent an acting background. She did enjoy being centre-stage as a dancer, though. She took her first ballet class at 20 Always a late starter! then joined a troupe led by choreographer Buddy Bradley. They toured a bit: It was a good opportunity to go abroad. Nobody flew! We went by boat and train awful, endless!, did TV spots and a few nightclubs. It was, she says, great fun.
As I write this, Jane Fonda, 77, has just graced the cover of W magazine. <Sunday Style>s recent cover of Jenny Kee, 68, was a big hit. I mean, the world is getting older, isnt it? says Selfe. People over 60 are retiring, theyve got more money than they used to have and they take more care of themselves. They want to see fashion on older people. The OPSM campaign is a case in point. Titled Style At Every Age, Kee, Heery (67), journalist Ita Buttrose (73) and surf filmmaker Alby Falzon (70) join Selfe modelling frames.
Ask her what makes a good model, and Selfe says, Professionalism, being on time, adaptability, reliability. But it helps if youre beautiful, too, right? Well, the camera likes me, she says simply. So what does she like about working in front of the camera? Its good fun, she says. Fun is the thing. I will probably be a bit tired after this trip, but thats OK. Im not going to stop. You can rest when youre in your coffin.