Elle Macpherson might be still known as The Body but these days she spends less time in front of the camera and more time building her business empire. She has created WelleCo, her own supplement range, and was in Australia this week to launch her new lingerie line, Elle Macpherson Body. The 52-year-old chatted to me about how she juggles the demands of family life with her business ventures, and shares insights into what most people don’t know about her and what she would change about herself.
What are you doing during your trip to Sydney?
I am thrilled to be back in Australia for the launch of my new lingerie business … I have a busy itinerary; lots of press engagements in Sydney and Melbourne … [and I’ll be] spending some time to see family, and even a quick trip to New Zealand!
What is a typical day for you?
Every day is different for me. I travel so much, so nothing is ever the same. Typically, though, I like to be up by 5am and my first thoughts are always around setting my intentions for the day. Before emails and work, I make sure I meditate, then connect with the kids and follow my wellness regime. When I’m in Miami, I’m in the office around 10am and work until 6pm. Family time is important to me and so we have breakfast and dinner together. I do the morning school run and often the afternoon one and watch my son play sports – I use the hour drive to make business calls.
Congratulations on Elle Macpherson Body. What can we expect from the new lingerie line?
Thank you – yes, it’s been an incredibly exciting time launching the brand here and internationally. Elle Macpherson Body is Australian lingerie with a strong, modern aesthetic … it’s the antithesis of traditional lingerie. There are lots of gorgeous details like paper-touch fabric, geometric laces, rose-gold hardware, but I never forfeit fit for fashion.
What made you decide to move from Elle Macpherson Intimates to create your own company with Elle Macpherson Body?
After many years of licensing, in my heart I felt it was time for me to build my own business – I wanted to put everything I have learned over this time into practice and I didn’t want to find myself in the future looking back wishing I’d done things differently. It was not easy to walk away from the security of a licensing income stream. However, I had come to the realisation that the involvement I had for 25 years had unfortunate limitations; it would never enable the structural changes I needed to make my own business evolve in the ways I’d been longing for.
Why did you decide to partner with an Australian company?
I wanted my partner to be an Australian company as this is my heritage and it means a lot to me. I’ve lived all over the world, but Australia is still home.
What elements of the business did you work on?
All of them! Being co-founder and co-director has meant that I have worked with Simon [de Winter] and the team on production, design, retail strategies, fit, marketing and budgeting. I’ve certainly learnt a huge amount, but I’ve also been able to bring together all the things I’ve learned along the way. I have 25 years’ experience in the lingerie category.
What is it like to work with your ex-husband, Gilles Bensimon, who is responsible for the marketing imagery of the campaign?
[He is a] long-time friend and mentor … I absolutely love our campaign and had fun producing the shoot with Gilles. Gilles and I chose our model, Kirsten, for her natural athletic body – a new type of sexy.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?
That transition from the billboard to the boardroom has been the most rewarding challenge.
How did you transition from model to businesswoman?
Looking back on 30 years in business, I believe that a natural curiosity, courage to try new things, a strong interest in business and a sense of adventure has led me to a very diverse career. Modelling has opened doors and I’ve been fortunate to meet inspirational creative people, encouraging me to bring my ideas to life. Timing is everything – I believe in trusting instincts and listening to my team’s perspectives.
What defines business success for you?
There’s more to success than meets the eye. Many people might think it’s been moments in my career like being on the covers of Sports Illustrated, being on the front of the newspaper with Princess Diana, hosting TV shows and financial reward. I’ve also felt those things were symbols of success. But that’s only part of it. Today, my idea of success is making the journey towards happiness and fulfillment. It’s a deeply personal experience, but I value things like having the courage to take risks, to explore, and the willingness to go through the ups and downs in life and still find joy in the process.
What does it mean to have your own business now?
I had to prove my credentials just like everyone else. Our partners both in Elle Macpherson Body and WelleCo all had to agree I could participate as an active partner. I had to prove I was more than the just a spokesperson … I asked myself and my business partners … to have faith in me to help me grow these businesses and to creatively and strategically direct their paths. I take it as a huge compliment that they saw potential and had faith and encouraged me to step up to a more responsible role.
What are you most proud of outside of your work?
The most important thing to me is my family: my children, stepchildren and my husband. I also have deep connections to my parents, brother and sisters – these relationships are vital to me.
Who do you look up to?
I look for inspiration from strong independent women who are connected to their heart, like Arianna Huffington and Maya Angelou.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Someone once told me: never believe your own press. I agree!
How do you stay in shape?
I love to get outdoors into nature and enjoy fresh air, so lots of hiking, biking swimming skiing and watersports … I also believe in beauty from the inside out – good nutrition, the value of sleep and lots of love and laughter.
What is your top beauty secret you’ve learnt while modelling?
My mum would say “water, water, water”!
How do you balance parenting with your busy schedule?
Like every parent, I do my best. I’m not perfect, but love and a sense of humour works wonders! With a busy schedule, I prioritise the children and everything else falls into place.
Where do you feel is home for you?
Home is where my heart is – usually wherever my family is.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you and would be surprised to find out?
I speak fluent French, want to learn how to play the ukulele, wish I had a vegetable garden and like to surf longboard. I love true stories – both in movies and books; would love to prepare a Ted talk on things I’ve learned along the way.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My kids would say my singing voice – I personally don’t think it’s that bad! And sunblock! Too many years unprotected from the Aussie sun shows on my skin today.
What is up next for you?
Our plan is to continue growing and building the Elle Macpherson Body brand. I’m loving new categories like socks and hosiery and sleep… Watch this space!
WE WENT TO Intercontinental Hotel, Double, Bay
WE ATE Heirloom Tomato salad with Roasted Quinoa, cured cucumber, aged balsamic flakes, charred salt, micro parsley; Tasmanian Salmon Gravlax with Baby Fennel, orange fillet, caper berries, lemon gelee, petit red elk
WE DRANK green juices.
ELLE WORE an Ellery shirt and Isabel Marant pants.
KATE WORE a camilla and marc top and miu miu leather pants.