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Carole White is a name that might ring a bell. She was the one that told the European Court of Human Rights, that Naomi Campbell might not have been telling the whole truth about those blood diamonds. She’s also in The Model Agency a TV fly-on-the-wall series about the agency she co-founded with her brother 30 years ago, Premier Models (it starts on Wednesday).
Premier is hugely respected and Carole has looked after, at one time or other, most of the super models and many beautiful young things, so she’s something of an expert at handling emotional temperaments and over excited women. Not much daunts her, including Naomi, and she has survived at the top in a tough old industry (IMAGINE the bitching!) for years and still seems extremely down to earth and well, very nice.
So TWR thought, who better to ask about the way 40+ women are portrayed in the fashion industry today? As Carole herself is 60 and looks fab, could she give us a few insider tips on how to look good? Here’s what she told us.
On the state of the 40+ woman in fashion today
'I think that women who are 40+ are quite lucky to be around now. Years ago when you got to 40 you just gave up and wore tweeds. Going back to my mother’s generation, fashion didn’t really go anywhere near that age group. I think they’ve got better at being fit, taking care of themselves and looking better in general. Hair and make up is easy and I don’t think there’s such a barrier between 20 and 40 anymore, you just adapt it to your age.'
On what to wear at 40+
'As you get older you need to get more simple. There are so many really good labels out there, you don’t have to give anything up, you just have to adapt. I’m influenced everyday, I watch young models come in here and almost without knowing it you are influenced by a belt they wear or whatever and I’ll adapt that to work for me.
I wear a lot of COS, it’s so easy and not a big statement and I like that, I love J Crew, Jaeger and I’m wearing Topshop’s Baxter jeans. I’m not a big fashion-expensive person, I like mixing high street brands with an expensive accessory. I do like Chanel and I might buy a pair of Chanel shoes and mix them with Gap, and I do love Prada cashmere knitwear, although I'm always shrinking it in the wash.'
On role models for the 40+
'The style queen of 40+ is Carine Roitfeld, (ex editor-in-chief of French Elle) she is so cool. So cool that even 19 yr olds think she’s cool. I think that’s a great position to be in if you’re over 40, she has tremendous style, she has access to anything she wants and she’s influential.
It’s getting better for role models (we mention the use of Christy Turlington, Kristen McMenamy, Linda Evangilista, all still working) and there are so many beautiful women out there that can become our icons.'
On using older models in advertising
'The problem is at 40+, you don’t think you’re that age! You are looking and thinking about how you were, so you actually do relate to a younger look. You look at that younger look and think, hmm I could do that but I’ll change it a bit, you adapt it. So should all models to sell to that age group be 40+? Will they sell more clothes from a 40+ model? Probably not, because I don’t think women believe they are that age. It’s an interesting question and I’m not sure I know the answer.
People are experimenting more with older women. We are always being asked for models for anti ageing skin care, in the past it was always 25 yr olds, it’s never that now. The brands are always looking for 40 or 42yrs.
Real beauties carry on and I have noticed that the age is going up, but it’s still not something you can rely on in a career as a model, it’s not every day that happens.'
Her tips for looking good
'To keep my figure I very rarely eat in the evenings, I have a really good breakfast and really good lunch and then don’t eat an evening meal unless I have to go out for supper. That works for me. I don’t do any exercise and smoke like a chimney. Also I just drink white wine.
If I get a spot, which is rare nowadays, I always use witchazel, it costs about 20p a bottle. if you feel a spot coming use it and it just goes.'
On cosmetic surgery. (She has just had her under-eye bags done).
'Do it! 100%! When I did the TV programme I was so worried because I had eye bags. I kept saying to the producer ‘I have to have them done’. But she said ‘no, I love you how you are’.
Then I had this stye in my eye, which turned into a tumour, I had to have surgery to remove it, so I thought if I am going to have a black eye anyway……I wish I’d had it done years ago, it doesn’t hurt and I was back at work in tens days.'
The Model Agency (click the link for a trailer) is going to be a good watch, an ESSENTIAL watch if you have daughters who are thinking of modelling, and be warned, Carole says she's 'A bit shouty and swears a lot' in the first episode. We can't wait. Starts Wednesday 23rd Feb, C4 10pm