Exclusive: Elle Macpherson shares her advice on business, parenting, and sleeping for more than 4 hours.

Image: Elle Macpherson with her Super Elixir (supplied)

These days, ‘It’ models seem to have a very speedy turnaround. A model will appear everywhere for a couple of years, until suddenly there’s a new cool girl on the block, and the cycle starts over.

Elle Macpherson, however, has maintained her ‘iconic model’ status for more than three decades now. The Aussie many know as ‘The Body’ first rose to prominence in the ’80s, and she remains as busy and as visible as ever. Judging roles on Next Top Model and Fashion Star, and a string of successful business pursuits have certainly helped.

One of the many magazine covers that propelled Elle to fame in the 80s


The mum of two's newest venture is a dietary supplement range called Super Elixir, sold through her website Welleco.

"I want to build a wellness brand that is like Net-a-Porter Wellness, where you can go on the site and find products that are good for you, good for the environment and cut out the noise of this very busy space," the 51-year-old says.

During her recent visit to Sydney, Macpherson met exclusively with The Glow. Naturally, we had many, many questions...

If you were 17 years old right now, would you still choose to be a model?

"I think the modelling industry’s changed enormously, because the distance between the iconic models and the public was huge back in the '80s and '90s. The distance today between very successful models and the public is very small. Actually the measure of your success today is by how close you are to your consumer and the measure of your success before was how far away you were from your consumer. So I think it’s just different times. Nothing concerns me. "


You're a big sun safety advocate now - but were you always careful with your skin?

"No I wasn't, I wish I was. I loved baking in the sun and now I've got sunspots all over my body. Actually, I wish someone had said to me, 'It's really bad for you' — but I think I probably wouldn't have listened. Today I'm really careful with my skin. I use Invisible Zinc in SPF 50 and you can see a huge difference when I have sun damage and when I don't. Some of it I can't reverse but I certainly don't need to exacerbate it."

What's one thing you've done consistently for your health throughout your career?

Elle also loves to ski.


"Doing some kind of physical movement every day or every other day. I used to do Jane Fonda videos, then I was in the gym doing pushups and situps like a guy; then I was doing lunges on the beach and that morphed into playing tennis and then paddleboarding and then it was like, 'I think I’ll learn kite surfing'. It’s a joy to dedicate 45 minutes a day to something for my body, preferably in nature — I think it’s the combination of movement and nature that’s really satisfying." (Post continues after gallery.)

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What advice would you give a woman hoping to enter the business world?

"Give it a go. That’s easy for Autralians — if you said that to an American they’d say, 'Ooh no, I might fail', whereas Australians say, 'Oh yeah, okay, I’ll give it a go'. I think it's really important to have the courage to try. The most successful businesses come from passion, not thinking, 'Oh god, how am I going to make the most money?' It’s more like, ‘What do I really love? I really believe in this.’ Then there's authenticity and integrity behind it. Choose with the heart."

You used to sleep for just four hours a night, until your nutritionist told you to aim for more. How did you retrain yourself?

"I just put myself to bed. It’s hard because it takes some discipline, but now it’s just so easy. I work backwards — 'What time do I need to get up? Five o'clock. So what time do I need to go to bed in order to get seven hours sleep? 10pm'. So if I have to be asleep at 10 o'clock, really that means putting myself to bed at 9.30 if I can — I read, sometimes I scroll through my Instagram or I watch CNN. Obviously if I’ve got a party that’s a different story, but on a week night when I’m getting up at five to do the school run and other things, I try to eat dinner no later than 7, and put myself to bed."


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Many mums feel immense pressure to snap back to their "pre-baby body" after giving birth. Did you?

"There is a lot of focus on that, isn't there? It's really unhealthy to do that! I don't think it's a healthy focus, because ultimately if you're breastfeeding the last thing you need to do is be food restricting or exercising too much. It's not a very nice experience for your baby. So I think the more slow process is better for the body and has more long term effects. Your body needs time to recover."

As a parent, do you ever feel as though your wheels just 'fall off'?

"Yeah, but I just say 'don’t take it personally'. Even your reaction to what’s going on — don’t on top of it all beat yourself up, [like] 'I’m not responding to this situation in the perfect way'. I think it’s about having a laugh. The biggest thing I’ve learned is the thing that’s worrying you today, I guarantee will not be worrying you in six months or even three months."

What are the main messages you've instilled in your sons as they've grown up?

A 'throwback' photo of Elle with her sons Flynn and Cy (via Instagram)


"I’m working on different things with my 17-year-old before he goes off to college, and my 12-year-old. I do believe in being inclusive, I believe in being self-responsible, self reliable, self accountable for your actions; I believe in finding the joy in what you do, I believe in laughter. I think a sense of humour is really important, not to take yourself too seriously. All the qualities that I know, things I’ve learned in my life, I try to share with them without judging their experience from my experience.


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"Also, just teaching them about the cause and effects of their choices. So if you’re going to eat a lot of sugar, what happens to you? Or if you don’t drink enough water, what happens to you? It’s not to judge them, it’s just so they can correlate what happens to their body with when they ingest something."

What have they taught you in return?

"So many things – patience, allowance, sense of humour. I’ve seen my boys be very tenacious in their own way and they’ve shown me not to give up. Kids are pretty flexible. They teach me every day."

Is your diet as strict as reports would have us believe?

Elle at the 2014 launch of SuperElixir


"I’m not very strict, I don’t believe in extremes and I’m too busy to be really obsessive about my food. I love [WelleCo's] two supplements because they’re easy. If I have the Super Elixir [Alkalising Greens], I have it with spring water or coconut water; and if I have the Nourishing Protein powder I have it with rice milk or almond milk. Sometimes I put fruit in it."

What's your go-to dish if you're eating at home?

"I like salad with a lot of stuff in it, or a warm salad: warm salad, spinach, avocado – which I put in cold afterwards – beets, whatever I can find in the fridge and I just heat it up. Especially in the winter I think it’s important to eat warm food. In summer I’m more relaxed having a salad or a piece of protein and vegetables."

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How do you stay fit these days?

"It’s summer, so I’m into swimming. It’s become a bit of a family thing, especially when we're on holidays — if we’re in a pool we do lengths, usually 60 or 50 lengths, or if we’re swimming in the open sea it’s ‘choose a point and swim to it and back’." (Post continues after gallery.)

 What's your makeup philosophy?

"I think less is more. I love the skin to look clean and dewy and I like accentuating what you have, not hiding things. So if you've got good cheekbones, show your cheekbones. If you've got pretty eyes, accentuate your eyes so they look their best. I don't like makeup changing the face, I just like it enhancing the face ... I have two step daughters and they're very into makeup. We just have a difference of opinion of what looks good, which I just have to be at peace with. They're so beautiful, they don't need to cover up their skin."

What are your go-to products?

The Glow caught up with Elle when she was in Sydney this June.


"I use Dr Brandt or Dr Sebagh moisturiser. I wear RMS Cover-Up, I dust with a little translucent powder, I do my brows with Anastasia light brows, I do a stain on my lip, a bit of a rosy cheek from RMS, and I'm out the door. If I want to be more dramatic I'll do a dark eye and a pale lip and sometimes that works at night but basically I keep it really simple."

You've spoken before about the importance of meditation. How do you meditate?

"I believe there's all sorts of meditations. For me, meditation is simply quietening the spirit enough to connect with yourself, or the universe, whatever it is. It can come through breathing, or just sitting still. Some people go into a meditative state, almost, when they run or swim — repetitive action. It can just be lying in bed in the morning and taking three deep breaths and saying 'Show me the way'. I take quiet moments all day, not stopping to think or feel, but stopping to just be. And I can really feel the difference when I haven't." (Post continues after gallery.)


How did you react to the articles earlier this year about the urine pH testing kit in your handbag?

"I think the press sort of like sensationalising things. It one of those quizzes that says 'What’s in your handbag?' and I mentioned 10 things but that was the one thing they picked up on. It’s hard to know what’s happening inside the body, but if you can have a tangible guide it really helps."

What would you love to ask Elle Macpherson?