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Oldies take fashion world by storm

world Updated: Mar 04, 2012 00:09 IST

Do models eat biscuits? Daphne Selfe does. "And cake," she says — "Are you sure you won't have a sandwich?" — before we sit down in the living room of her Hertfordshire home.

You may recognise Selfe from the fashion pages of the Guardian or from Vogue, ad campaigns and style magazines. She is 83, and last year appeared more in demand than ever.

Her long silver hair has become her trademark. Her cheekbones are sharp, her blue eyes shine and her skin looks lived-in and luminous. Her secret? "I have an Irish family behind me, which is good for looks," she says with a smile. "But everyone can look lovely. It's what's in your head that counts — your outlook."

As a young woman, a local photographer organised a modelling competition, the shop girls applied and Selfe won. After that, she trained with an agency – "We were taught how to walk, how to do hair and make-up, because in those days you had to do all that yourself. It's not like now, when you have all these people to transform you."

Around the same time, she met her future husband, Jim. Soon after, they were married with three children, and Selfe gave up modelling. In the 60s, Selfe considered going back to modelling and approached a few agencies.

But it was not until 1998, aged 70, did Selfe — by then a widow — get her big break. "And I haven't looked back," says Selfe.

The fashion world has changed since she first became a model.

She has undoubtedly stood up for diversity in a world that venerates youth. "People now get to 40 and think, 'Oh my God', but so what? Everybody has to get old." Does she mourn her youthful beauty? She shakes her head. "Age just makes you a bit slower." She thinks for a while andsays: "I can't wear high heels now, but I'm not bothered."