Meet the worlds’s oldest supermodel — Daphne Selfe.
She has a mane of silver hair, an etiolated neck, high cheekbones, bright, intelligent, lively eyes, and all 83 of her years etched upon her face.
She recently modeled for the Oxfam’s Big Bra Hunt.
“I’ve never had anything done to my face,’ Daphne says, pulling it this way and that. ‘Not that poison, not a facelift. I think it’s a waste of money. Anyway, I couldn’t afford it!”
So how on earth does she do it, remain so fit, so lively in her slacks and flats?
‘I think it’s partly down to good genes. My mother was a livewire, she lived until she was 95. I’ve never really bothered with skin cream or anything like that, although I might use a bit of Boots. I hate anything you can’t take the top off and dig around for what’s left in the bottom.
‘I did dye my hair at home for a while when I started to go grey in my early 40s. Occasionally, I would go into L’Oreal as a guinea pig, but it became too much of a bother.
‘My hair is long now because it’s cheaper, I don’t have to do anything, but put it in a topknot or a French pleat. It avoids that old lady permed look, lengthens the neck and lifts the face. I’ve got so many friends who don’t touch the make-up pot. You should keep looking nice, it makes you feel so much better.’
‘I would never have made it starting out today,’ she admits. ‘I was too short, just 5ft 7in, with wide shoulders from all the riding I did as a young girl. But no one ever asked me to lose weight. Rationing was in place until 1954, so you were always grateful to get good food.’
When I got married in 1954, I assumed I would never work again. My family came first. We weren’t well off, but that didn’t really matter. It’s dreadful women today have to work and can’t look after their families.’
What does she think of fashion these days? ‘They don’t look in the mirror, do they? I do think women are too sloppy these days. No matter where I was going, I had a hat, and matching bags and shoes. Like all girls in those days I made the most of my own clothes. Not like models today, who seem to wear skinny jeans between shows. I always wore a roll-on corset. Never leggings! Just dreadful!’
Daphne has three children — Mark, 57, Claire, 53, and Rose, 51 — and although she soon got her figure back, she assumed motherhood meant the end of her modelling career.
‘I fell out of fashion in the Sixties,’ she says. ‘I was what you called rather strapping, at 10½ stone! So I continued with a bit of acting work, and was an extra in films.’
Does she feel, over a decade later, that she is still the token older woman rather than an ideal of beauty?
‘Oh no, I don’t think so. I’m doing more high fashion now than I did as a young woman, I think because at last I’ve lost the puppy fat! You can see the bones in my face. I’ve worked with Mario Testino, he was so kind, and Rankin — I knew his parents, both dead now — and Dolce & Gabbana.