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Thu, Apr 15, 2010
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Elle Macpherson: Making the best of what she's got

Different challenges

During Paris Fashion Week last February, Macpherson caused quite a splash by making a surprise return to the catwalk to close the Louis Vuitton show. Designer Marc Jacobs had explained that his aim was to create a collection that appealed to a wider market, taking into account different ages and sizes.

“It was a great honour. Marc was trying to convey a message and when he asked me whether I wanted to help him take that message, I said yes, because I felt it was important,” says the 46-year-old mother of two boys.

“It was also good for business, especially since I’ve just launched my lingerie in Paris,” she adds, dropping a broad hint.

So, naturally, the conversation shifts to Macpherson’s lingerie line, Elle Macpherson’s Intimates, which has been a runaway success in both Australia and Britain.

“I’ve been in business for 21 years so it’s a long time. We’ve just opened 300 doors across Europe in 11 countries in three months during the economic recession, so it goes to show you the power of the brand.”

Macpherson, who’s very involved in the design process, is quick to point out that it’s not just the famous name that sells but also, the “fantastic products”.

“We sell beautiful lingerie at accessible prices. I don’t have a store so we sell at department stores. There’s something for every type of woman – sizes range from an ‘A’ right up to a ‘G’ cup, and there’re maternity bras, afterwear and even boudoir, which is very sexy for Valentine’s Day or Christmas. Every year, hundreds of pieces of lingerie are created and every three weeks, there’s something new.”

She notices that “Malaysian women have more Western type of bodies”.

“Unlike Japanese women who are tiny, you have breasts, hips and waists (e.g. Indian and Malay women). I would love to bring the label here,” says Macpherson. “Prices are decent, ranging from £18 (S$38) up to £100 (S$212) for a bra. We’re offering the quality of La Perla but at Calvin Klein prices.”

Currently, the nearest stop for the lingerie line is Lane Crawford in Hong Kong.

“I don’t do American lingerie, which is mostly black, white and tan lingerie with no lace. I like very feminine, interesting and colourful lingerie which you would treat like outerwear. It should be like how you would choose your clothes.”

Growing in mind and spirit

For someone so accomplished, is there anything else which she wants to try her hand at?

“I’ve had an enjoyable 30-year career and done lots of things. I’d like to get my pilot’s licence (so that’s different)!” declares Macpherson who also has her own line of body and skincare products, and workout videos.

I broach the subject of ageing gingerly in case she’s sensitive about it but Macpherson has no hang-ups about her physique or visage.

“I didn’t choose to be called ‘The Body’. Time magazine coined it for a cover in 1986 and the name stuck for years. Since then, I’ve built a whole business around it. I choose to see something like that and use it (to my advantage) rather than (moan) that ‘Oh, I’m more than a body, I’ve got a heart too, you know, I’ve got a brain ...’” she feigns a whine.

“When you’re 18 or 19, and you’ve got long legs and no kids, you better have a decent body! But, if you’re older, it’s about how you dress, move and photograph. I’m 46 and at this point, it takes more expertise to bring out your best qualities in front of the camera,” she explains.

Macpherson does yoga and Pilates, skiing, surfing and swimming – “I’m a beach kind of person” – to stay in shape.

“I don’t have the body of a 20-year-old and that’s okay. I make the best of what I’ve got. This is a natural face, as you can see, and I am who I am.”

She keeps her beauty regime simple using Revlon products, sun block and eating healthily. And, she’s not too bothered about Tinseltown talk on plastic surgery or facelifts.

“I’m working too much to even take time off to do anything. It’s not something I think about. I don’t believe changing the way you look outside changes the way you feel inside. I’d rather change the way I feel than the way I look.”

Macpherson has probably been asked a million times what advice she would give a model wannabe, but she obliges with a reply anyway.

“I would tell budding models to get an education and use your beauty for something more than making money. Beauty can be very powerful. I’ve always liked the concept of beautiful women using beauty in different ways.”

The press often talks about her beauty and her “razor sharp instincts for business” in the same breath, but maintains that she has never looked at her career as about having her ego flattered.

“I loved building the business. I’ve two young boys, who can see that they’ve got an independent mother, who’s growing, changing and trying new things. I don’t have a nanny (when I’m working, they are with their father), and (I hope) my children can say, ‘My mother is beautiful, has a successful career and a great mother. She’s a strong woman,’” says the single mother.

So, what’s the best part about being a mother?

“Watching my kids grow,” she answers spontaneously.

And, the best part about being a supermodel? “Watching myself grow!”


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