Daphne Selfe is somewhat of a legend. She’s nearing 90 years old and still working. [Photo: Rex]
‘Models really aren’t anything special – we’re just ordinary like everyone else,’ says Daphne Selfe.
Only Daphne Selfe is anything but ordinary. At 87 years old, tonight she will be walking in a London Fashion Week show to a sea of applause.
Walking proof that age is no barrier, Daphne, officially the world’s oldest working supermodel (approved by Guinness), is closing the first Fifty Plus Fashion Week show, and Yahoo Style has been invited to speak to her as she finishes off in hair and make-up.
‘When I first started, you had to do all your own make-up and hair – not like now where you have someone doing it for you,’ she tells us.
I take the opportunity to ask her how else the industry has transformed since she first started out when she was just 17 years old.
Daphne’s been working for many years - and knows how much the industry has changed. [Photo: Colin Davey]
‘Well, back then it was acceptable to be a size 12 – and I’m only in 5’7 and then that was considered tall then.’
Pausing her career to enjoy her family, Daphne experienced a bit of a renaissance at the age 70 after being asking to walk for Red Or Dead. Since then she has appeared in Vogue, photographed by David Bailey and Mario Testino and fronted a recent campaign for & Other Stories.
Her style is second to none. [Photo: Rex]
Still hitting the catwalk in her eighth decade, Daphne is undeniably unusual, so I ask her why older women are so under-represented in not only the fashion industry but society as a whole.
‘I think I’ve been lucky – but television and acting do favour young people, they don’t like older people.
‘A lot of older women do feel invisible, and I wish I knew why, so we could do something about it! I am trying, but it’s also up to older people to keep fit and not look, well, old! It’s a mindset – in my head, I feel about 60 - you’ve got to keep an interest in life and I think a lot of people have lost that. Be curious is my favourite saying’.
Daphne credits her incredible health to eating well and not smoking or drinking. [Photo: Rex]
As for ‘secrets to longevity’, Daphne has few - modestly crediting her ‘good genes’ above all. However, she admits she’s never smoked, rarely drinks and is careful with what she eats.
‘I’ve never over eaten; I’ve never eaten fast food. And I’ve never smoked, I used to drink a little – I’d always have a glass of champagne, but I don’t really bother with it now.’
And as for stress? ‘I’m quite laid back; I suppose,’ she says.
Daphne on the catwalk. [Photo: Rex]
Daphne isn’t by any means part of the ‘dress your age’ brigade, rather arguing than people just dress in what’s appropriate for them.
‘Dress in what suits you, I think a lot of people just forget to look in the mirror – especially from the back. I mean, I wouldn’t wear a mini skirt, but I don’t think I ever have! And hang on to things because they keep coming round again,’ she tells us before pointing out her own trousers which she says she bought in the 1970s.
The stunning model. [Photo: OPSM]
And on the eve of the first day of London Fashion Week AW16 as the size zero debate rages on and the industry tries to fight back against even more controversy, what is the biggest problem we have today according to Daphne?
‘I do wish models nowadays would smile more; I have a job because I like to do so! Why do they all look so miserable? I’d far rather buy a dress off a model who smiled at me than one who is so glum,’ she says.
And later on, as she closes the show - she does just that, and we’d definitely buy whatever dress she’s wearing.