‘For years it was about how I looked, now it's about how I feel,’ our founder tells Body+Soul.
The coming year is a big one for WelleCo, but it’s even more significant for our founder. Hitting ten in 2024 is admittedly an enormous privilege for us as a company, but to have a front-row seat as Elle steps into her seventh decade is a magnificent milestone we simply cannot wait to mark. Read on as Elle opens up toBody+Soul about ageing, quality of life and what makes women truly alluring.
She burst onto our TVs at 18 and was dubbed The Body at 25. Now, on the eve of a landmark birthday, Elle Macpherson has very different priorities. In this exclusive interview with Body+Soul, Australia’s original ‘super’ reflects on her life as she heads into her seventh decade.
In the minutes before chatting withElle Macpherson, I consider what it’s like to be her. Supermodel, businesswoman, wellness guru and the woman Time Magazine anointed “The Body” built a career based on what she looks like, so it’s only natural that those who meet her might be quietly assessing that very thing.
As it happens, she looks amazing in a dove grey jumper (Linnea Lund cashmere), white jeans (Dior) and very little, if any,make-up. Her trademark long hair is shorter and tousled from a swim earlier in the day. Even in the soft light of a Florida evening it’s hard to believe that in March she’ll be turning 60. I tell her she looks incredible.
“I feel incredible,” she corrects. “I think that’s the most important thing. You say I look incredible but I feel that way. I just love thatsense of vitality and I’m grateful for my life, I’m grateful for my journey and I am loving turning 60.”
Macpherson is Australia’s original supermodel and while it’s all very well being dubbed “The Body” aged 25 and parlaying that moniker into a string of business ventures on top of a highly successful modelling career, 34 years later it must be a tricky label to live up to.
Yet the woman who inhabits said body is sanguine. “I spent many years tending to my outer appearance as ‘The Body’ and really living up to other people’s expectations of me,” she says. “Today I find my life way more fulfilling and enriching as I focus on my inner wellbeing and balance because that delivers peace and joy and love.”
If Macpherson once embodied a late 20th century Amazonian athleticism, at 59 she is no less influential as an advocate for wellness. Next year not only marks a landmark birthday but a decade since she founded WelleCo, the rapidly growing global supplement brand that sprang from her own experiences of feeling less than her best. Having approached 50 sleep-deprived, unmotivated, sugar-addicted, surviving on coffee and with weight gain, bad skin and low libido, she says 10 years later she’s thriving and even via Zoom it’s clear she’s brimming with a potent combination of health, energy and ease. Of course, that could also, in part, be due to her new boyfriend, musician Doyle Bramhall II, but we’ll get to that.
Macpherson is the first of the clutch of 90s supermodels – branded The Magnificent Seven by the New York Times in 1996 – to reach 60 although Linda Evangelista, 58, and Cindy Crawford, 57, are not far behind. In any case, she’s unbothered by her or anyone else’s age.
“I don’t focus on ageing,” she tellsBody+Soul. “I think it’s more important to focus on the quality of the life that you’re living and how you’re living life to the fullest. They always say it’s not the years in your life it’s the life in your years. That’s what I like to help people with, which is how they can live their life to their fullest.”
As one of a clutch of women who are reinventing midlife, openly discussing menopause and refusing to become invisible, she notes archly that “it’s about time” and very much dependent on sharing knowledge. “My mum is still beautiful and active and vibrant and it’s true she didn’t have as much information on how to look after herself as we do today. But I would say magazines like yours are giving women a voice. They’re also giving them the tools to understand how to nurture themselves.”
Macpherson watched the recent documentary The Super Models featuring Evangelista, Crawford, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell (she enjoyed it) and while she follows inspirational older women on social media it’s not to benchmark their preservation of youth.
“When I look at other women on social media I’m more interested in their lives than how they look per se,” she says. “I’m interested in women’s lives in general, the depths of their souls, the breadth of their experience, their heart connections - without sounding too fluffy about it. The quality of women’s lives is what interests me.”
Right now, the quality of Macpherson’s life looks pretty good. She’s a successful businesswoman, an enthusiastic empty nester since her two sons, Flynn, 25, and Cy, 20, moved out of home, a “nomadic lover” as one of her friends has dubbed her and Bramhall and, as she exclusively reveals, a soon-to-be author. A memoir? A health book? A glossy chronicle of her modelling days? “You’ll have to wait and see,” she says enigmatically.
She may look extraordinary – the ideal poster girl for her signature The Super Elixir™ greens powder – but the combination of excellent genes, a healthy lifestyle and honed business instincts have not spared her from challenges. Macpherson has endured the ending of two marriages, the breakdown of her relationship with the father of her two children, public battles with former business associates, issues with alcohol, and a period in a rehab facility in 2003. At the time she said she was struggling with postnatal depression, telling the Herald Sun that she “addressed a lot of issues that needed addressing.”
Recently she posted an image on Instagram of her Alcoholics Anonymous tri-plate token marking 20 years of sobriety. “I stopped drinking in 2003 because I felt I couldn’t be fully present in my life and it was a wonderful springboard of getting to know myself on a deeper level,” she elaborates, noting that once she stopped, she never started again.
Having observed that she engages directly with some of her 715K Instagram followers, encouraging them on their path to sobriety, I wonder if she has a message for those who feel alcohol isn’t serving them well.
“Everybody has their own journey and I’m not interested in telling other people what to do but I know that this was a decision that I’ve never regretted,” she says gently. “Although it required discipline and persistence the bottom line is you can’t be well and present in your life if you’re not present and well, and alcohol doesn’t really support that. It’s very difficult to get to know yourself if you’re numbing yourself.”