Daphne Selfe has been modelling, on and off, ever since she entered a newspaper competition at age 20. Rationing was still in place, and some of her first jobs were modelling fur coats and cigarettes.
Daphne stopped working when her children were young – as one did and should, she says – but picked it up again as they grew up.
There was a lengthy hiatus in the British model’s career while she cared for her husband, who suffered a series of strokes. Then, in 1998, a year after her husband had passed away, Ms Selfe was asked to appear on the catwalk for cult brand Red or Dead. Next came an invitation from Vogue, which was shooting a special on older women – “I think they needed someone to represent ‘ancient’” says Ms Selfe – followed by a signing with elite agency Models 1.
Since then, she has modelled haute couture and yoga clothing, from Dolce & Gabbana to Fanny Karst. When she’s not modelling Ms Selfe spends time with her four grandchildren or visiting London.
Today, Ms Selfe is the face of the OPSM Style at Every Age Campaign here in Australia and we were lucky enough to catch up with her while she was in town. The first thing we wanted to know was how she has endured in such a fickle industry.
“I’m a very cheerful positive person,” she says. “I’ll do anything… within reason. I love being busy and I’m curious about everything. I love that I can travel the world having great fun, going to lots of countries and get paid for it.”
And how has the modelling industry changed over the years?
“It’s so much better than it used to be, it’s opened up to everyone including older women. That said: there are still too many very young models and too much clothing for young people,” says Ms Selfe.
What is your beauty regime?
“I use cleanser, moisturiser and night cream; I do all that. I never go to bed with makeup on, and I never go without some during the day.
“I believe it’s more important what you eat than what you put on your face. I drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruit and vegetables. I do all my on cooking; I never eat processed foods because you never know what they’ll put in there.”
Is it true you don’t dye your hair?
“Well I’m lucky, you see – my hair is grey but it’s a nice colour. Even if it wasn’t I’d rather spend money on going to the theatre than dying it.
“I refuse to cut my hair short because it’s so much less trouble and I look like a hag with short hair. A lot of people cut their hair short and I don’t understand why because it’s more trouble and it costs you more.”
What are your tips for feeling beautiful as an older woman?
“Good health is the key to vitality and vitality is beautiful. That means eating well, getting plenty of exercise and fresh air, remaining curious about the world and being positive.
“And you should never worry too much. Life is too short for that.”
Do you think older women should dress age-appropriately?
“No! Well, I suppose within reason. Experiment and wear it if it suits you. People could do with looking in the mirror more.
Do you think you’ll retire one day?
“No, not at all! If you retire you’re in a coffin.”
The images here are from Daphne Selfe’s new campaign with OPSM, tell us what you think!