Most models, including supermodels, have short-lived careers, but that’s not the case with Elle Macpherson, who combined an entrepreneurial talent with her natural beauty for a career that has spanned three decades and is still going strong.
At the height of her career, the Australian-born Sports Illustrated cover girl was tagged "The Body." For a lesser woman, the moniker could have been a negative, but not Macpherson.
"It was the perfect opportunity for me to capitalize on it and build a business, which I did," she says. "I built The Body products, which is a multi-million dollar business. Also, it is part of the Elle Macpherson brand, which includes my Intimates line, that has allowed me to continue working in this industry."
Today, Macpherson also has to her credit the titles executive producer and host. On March 20 on NBC, she will premiere "Fashion Star," a reality competition, which will search for the next big brand in fashion — with clothes available online the very next day. Along with Macpherson, the series mentors include Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos.
In this exclusive Spry interview, Macpherson addresses her commitment to health and wellness, her concerns about aging, her diet and exercise regimen and more.
Spry: You are turning 48 this month. How will you celebrate?
Elle: I think I am working. I am hosting and producing "Britain & Ireland's Next Top Model" and that is right in my peak show time. We start filming in January and we go until April and I am working every day. I looked at March 29th, which is my birthday, to see if I had any space and I noticed I have an elimination that day.
Spry: How do you feel about your birthdays nowadays?
Elle: I welcome my years. I really do. I appreciate being the age I am as a woman.
Spry: A certain wisdom comes with age?
Elle: You hope so … but peace, anyway, and self-acceptance, a sense of humor and the feeling that I instinctively know how to handle situations that used to baffle me. There is a sense of empowerment as well. And it is easy does it.
Spry: Does it help that you have made your mark? That you can look back and say, "Wow, look at what I've accomplished?"
Elle: I don't look back; and I don't look forward. I really try to stay exactly where I am. Every day I have great opportunities to explore, to expand, to celebrate, so on a daily basis I am celebrating.
Spry: How has your attitude towards your looks changed over the years? Has your commitment to health and wellness changed?
Elle: I absolutely have a completely different perspective than most people would imagine. Wellness is more important to me than being in shape. I am not in shape to look in the mirror and think, "Isn't that silhouette pleasing?" What I do want to do is feel strong, feel balanced emotionally, feel that I can enjoy doing sports without any aches and pains in my body, and that I still have the [desire] to try new things. I do a lot of sports more than going to the gym to work on target muscle groups or any of that. I don't philosophize exercise. I really go and enjoy the process of surfing, skiing, hiking, playing tennis or water skiing. I am Australian and it is a lifestyle choice, absolutely.
If I do anything, I do Bikram yoga. I work with my trainer James Duigan, who even if we don't work together every day, we talk about where we are in the fitness program or in a wellness program more than anything.
As far as wellness is concerned, I pay a lot of attention to the quality of the food that I eat. No pesticides or preservatives. Also, food that has been ethically sourced in the sense that it hasn't been flown around the world to get to me. I try to eat in season in the country that I am in, so it is as fresh as it possibly can be. I truly believe that having food that is as least processed as possible is important for the cells, but also it manifests itself in the silhouette of the body.
Spry: Is there anything you do not eat?
Elle: Not a lot of wheat and dairy.
Spry: Do you think about supplements?
Elle: I do. I take fish oil. It is really important for me for my skin quality, for burning fat, for the conductive tissue. I look at different things as I get older. You look at things like conductive tissue because hormones play a part in how lubricated the skin is and the quality of the skin.
Spry: Can you describe your beauty regimen?
Elle: For the body, scrub and cleanse, scrub and moisturize, scrub and cleanse. So, I scrub, scrub, scrub, scrub, scrub and moisturize twice a day. It is really important to exfoliate and circulation is key for skin tone — soft, smooth skin that smells good and has a glow to it. Some people like sun; some people like fake sun. Still, if the cells are stimulated, they will have a shine to them and a kind of color and glow to them that is important to me.
On my face, I use Revlon Age Defying Makeup, which for me to be camera ready is very, very good, because it is a skin care, a sun block, a moisturizer and also has coverage. It is all-in-one. I like no frills-no fuss beauty. [Note: She is contracted to them as a global spokesperson.] I love working with Revlon. They are an iconic brand and I think the Elle Macpherson brand and the Revlon brand have a lot in common. It is accessible, it is iconic, it delivers on its promise and it is affordable.
Spry: How do you feel about fashion rules for 40+ women, such as no short skirts or no below-the-shoulders hair?
Elle: Obviously, no below-the-shoulders hair! [She laughs, showing off her long tresses.] Maybe, I should get my hair cut, but… As for the skirts, if you've got the legs, wear it! If you don't have the legs, don't. It is not age defined. It is simple. You can be 20 and not be wearing short skirts, or you can be 50 and have fabulous legs. That could be the best part of your body, so focus on that. I always think that women should figure out their best feature and accentuate that.
Spry: What do you feel is the secret to aging well?
Elle: Laughter, love and lots of water.
Spry: Are there any particular health concerns in your family that you are taking precautions against?
Elle: We have a history of cancer in the family, so I have my checkups — all my body — breasts, skin, and ovaries. There are so many wonderful tests on the market today that are inexpensive and accurate. So many diseases are preventable if caught in time. It is when we brush it under the carpet and say, "It doesn't matter" or "It will never happen to me" is when we have a problem. So, constant vigilance, not fear.