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First person: ‘I am Britain’s oldest supermodel’ Daphne Self, 80

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Ten years ago, when I was 70, my agent asked me if I wanted to do a show at London Fashion Week for Red or Dead. I think they had realised there were older people who wanted clothes as well as young ones. That show was a breakthrough for older models.

I have always loved clothes and taken an interest in fashion so I loved starting to model again. After the Red or Dead show I did a photo shoot for Vogue with Nick Knight. There was a scout for Models 1 there who said they wanted me on their books, and I’ve been incredibly busy ever since. I am 80 now; a few years ago I did Dolce & Gabbana’s show in Milan and last year I did their autumn campaign with Mario Testino and some things with Rankin, who I love.

I got started in modelling when I was 20 when the job I had looking after horses didn’t work out. I got a job in the fashion department of Heelas of Reading, which is now John Lewis, and while I was there I won a competition to be the cover girl for a local county magazine.

I went up to London and did my three weeks of modelling training. They teach you how to walk, etiquette and how to do your hair and make-up, but I had to get a nine-to-five first. A year later I decided I could go freelance and did everything, from fashion shows and promotions to photographs and a few commercials.

When I got married I thought that was that. In those days you didn’t really expect to work once you were married and I got on with having three children. My husband Jim joined ATV when it started in 1955 and later worked for the BBC, and in 1963 I started doing some work as an extra. I didn’t think of work as anything but a bit of fun. Then my agent asked if I wanted to do some store modelling, which in those days meant walking around the restaurant showing off the clothes to the customers. Working 10am to 4pm fitted in rather well with having children at school. I could chat with the other girls and it was a lovely time in my life.

When I started up again at 70 it was jolly exciting. I was very busy and went on trips abroad, but modelling has changed a lot. In the Fifties you had to take all your things with you. Nobody did your hair or make-up, they just provided the clothes.

Jim died in 1997 which is maddening because he didn’t get to see me do the Red or Dead show, but it was a wonderful thing to have something to occupy me. Modelling at my age is lovely because the men don’t chase me and I’m no threat to the young ones. I keep a check on my figure and exercise and drink little alcohol, but I’ve always been naturally thin and energetic.

There are quite a few older models now and as the population is ageing it’s important clothes are not always shown on the very young. I don’t get to keep many of the clothes – what would I do with them where I live in Baldock?


Thu, November 29 2012 » Healing

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