Get To Know Model and Muse Daphne Selfe

Having MODELLED for the likes of Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabanna and Missoni in the past, the 87 YEAR OLD icon has no intentions of slowing down …

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“No one wants to know about my autobiography,” says Daphne Selfe, “because it’s much too nice. You have to be sensational.” Yet Selfe’s career trajectory would seem to defy this notion. Though she began modelling in 1949, it wasn’t until she was featured in Vogue at age 70, that her career as a supermodel really started and she was signed by top modelling agency Models 1. Since then she has appeared in numerous campaigns, among them Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Dolce & Gabbana, Marks & Spencer, Nivea, H&M, DKNY and Brown Thomas. She has also appeared in pop videos for Will Young and Paul McCartney and been photographed by all of the greats – Rankin, Mario Testino, Nick Knight and David Bailey. Now aged 87, she continues to work, thriving on travel and the opportunity to coach others in her Daphne Selfe Academy.

ALTHOUGH I AM IN MY 80s NOW part of me is still very much the girl who used to play dressing-up games on the lawn of our house in Weston-super-Mare. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO TURN UP NEXT  even at this age. Life is very surprising and it is not very long, so you might as well get the best out of it. But how do you do that? It helps to be interested in everything. My father gave me the gift of curiosity and it has
never left me. FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS I’VE BEEN A PARTICIPANT  in Andrew Davies’s All About London and All About Britain walking tours. There’s almost nothing I enjoy more than an interesting few hours exploring London on foot.

MY WARDROBE TODAY IS AN ECLECTIC MIX  of all the clothes I’ve kept over my lifetime, including my first shoes, my first wool bathing suit and some of my clothes from the 1940s and 1950s. I had to wear my own clothes for nearly all my early photographic and television jobs, so a large assortment was essential and I made many of my own. It went on your CV: “Good wardrobe – evening, furs, sports clothes etc.” IT HELPS BEING ABLE TO WEAR CLOTHES WITH CONFIDENCE and it’s something I encourage in my online academy. LIFE IS MUCH MORE FUN IF YOU ARE ADAPTABLE and don’t mind what you do. I also think you have a much more pleasant time if you are tolerant. It is essential when you are a model not to take things personally. If you don’t get a job, it’s not your fault. It’s all about what they want, so get over it. On to the next! That’s my attitude.

BE POSITIVE; A SMILE IS AS GOOD AS A FACELIFT I’m lucky that I’ve always had what is called “hairdresser’s hair”. I haven’t had anything done because I believe your entire history is in your face. I believe you’ve got to keep exercising. My first love is horse riding though I have always loved dancing and I’m fortunate I’m very flexible. Darcey Bussell told me you can only alter your innate flexibility by 15 per cent. I love painting too and often take portraits of my friends’ pets. I wish I’d taken a proper art course. PEOPLE ALWAYS MARVEL AT MY AGE but I’m having so much fun, why would I stop working? I’m just glad the jobs keep on coming.

Daphne Selfe: The Way We Wore: A Life in Clothes (Pan Macmillan), www.daphneselfe.com.

Penny McCormick

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