You would had to have been in a coma in the 90s not to have glimpsed at least once the realm of the supermodel and their rock and roll pulp fiction lifestyles . The supermodels were pioneers of the current notion of celebrity by transferring its epicentre of attention from Hollywood to a handful of goddesses who graced the covers of Vogue and Rolling Stone. The beautiful people evolved into one great editorial fairytale the world couldn’t get enough of. My question is 20 years on what happens after supermodels reach the other side of 40? Where do they go, how do they redefine themselves, and what will they never return to?
Who better to answer those questions than Gail Elliott, a self defined “2nd tier supermodel”. Gail was no wallflower in the 90s-Cindy Crawford was her bridesmaid; Helena Christensen and Michael Hutchence were her party pals who introduced her to her husband of two decades; and she’s even been up the Eifel Tower with Duran Duran. It’s all documented in the likes of Vogue and occasional flickers on MTV , Gail Elliott forever a Girl on Film.
Gail is a Londoner by birth, a New Yorker forever, Sydney for her lover, and now Bali for her base. Eighteen months ago Gail and Aussie husband Joe Coffey moved to Bali to establish the headquarters of their global fashion label Little Joe Woman. Little Joe Woman, a contemporary high-end womens wear label, enables Gails current lifestyle by producing and selling her personal style and iconic pop culture testament. Still a stunning woman in her 40s Gails focus nowadays is less partying with rock stars but instead being a business woman, a designer, a lover, a traveller, a good friend, a curator of style, and forever in pursuit of personal peace and the endless summer.
London or New York? Which side of the pond do you truly belong? I was born and raised in London but left when I was 17 years old to base myself in New York as a fashion model where I lived for 24 years. I basically grew up in New York – I was married there. I have a US passport, I am an American citizen, so I feel more like a New Yorker than a Londoner.
The best/worst thing about living in Australia?
I love Australia for its natural beauty and the way of life but I find it extremely far away from the rest of the world and feel a little ‘stuck’ there.
The best/worst thing about living in USA?
I loved living in the USA – it’s where I feel I grew up. In New York there’s always something going on on every corner. There are multiple art gallery openings, new restaurants and nightclub openings every night. I love New Yorkers, I love the life, I love the food and the shopping and I love the Hamptons all year around. The worst thing for me though was the seriously freezing cold winters – I certainly don’t miss those!
The best/worst thing about living in Bali?
We’ve been living in Bali for just 16 months so it’s still very new to me. Joe Coffey, who is my husband and business partner and I moved our operations to Bali. Twelve months ago we opened our first Little Joe Woman boutique in Asia on Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak Bali. We’re spending as much time as possible here and travelling to Sydney as business and pleasure requires. Our boutique carries our ‘Endless Summer’ collection of all my favourite Resort pieces as well as our new accessories line of handbags, beach bags, beach towels, sandals, wide brimmed straw panama hats, swimwear and jewellery – which are perfect for every vacation. We also carry our current ‘Collection’ pieces which are in boutiques and online. I find Bali alluring because for me it’s rugged and luxurious at the same time and every trip is special. I love it for the people, the kindness, the culture, the smells, the sense of community, the climate, the food, the warm air, the beautiful scenery of the rice paddies and the freedom that permeates the air here. The restaurant, hotel and beach club scene is amazing, there are so many world class places to eat and chill at with Sardine, Petitenget, La Lucciola, Barbacoa, Metis, Ku De Ta and Potato Head being some of our favourites. I also love the style of interiors in Bali with modern dark wood, their use of stone, wood, concrete, metal, marble, woven and bamboo. My favourite interior designer is Christian Liaigre and so much of what I see at various restaurants in Bali remind me of his stunning work. In particular I love the interiors of the Alila Hotel, Nihiwatu Resort and Suaga Resort.
Describe your perfect Sunday in Bali?
That’s easy….!! We awake early in Bali, sometimes go to the Samadi Market to stock up on organic vegetables, fruit, nuts, turmeric juice. We have breakfast out at one of our favourite local restaurants. I love to cook and Joe also loves my cooking so we spend the day roasting whole fish, hanging at the pool at our villa, reading and sometimes entertaining friends.
Favourite outfit you ever rocked on the runway? There were so many great outfits I rocked on the runway, some of which I still have that were gifted to me from runway shows. The most fun shows to do were Chanel with Karl Lagerfeld, Versace with Donatella & Gianni, Dolce & Gabanna with Stefano & Dominico, Marc Jacobs, Azzedine Alaia and so many more. The models and designers were friends back then, they would invite us to their homes in Miami, their ski lodges in the mountains, send their private jets to pick us up, throw after show parties for us, attend openings and award ceremonies with them. We worked extremely hard – I would fly from New York to Mexico, to Miami, to London to Paris and then to Milan in a week for shoots but the modelling profession was very fun in the late 1980s and 1990s!
Favourite outfit now?
I occasionally wear my beautiful vintage pieces that were given to me by designers after the shows but I mainly wear my own brand Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott.
What item of clothing would you never be seen dead in?
I’ve never liked Mule shoes and don’t particularly follow trends – I like to wear my brand of slightly bohemian, rock-chic, haute-hippy, model-off-duty styles that suit my lifestyle, body shape and attitude to life.
What’s the most difficult aspect of running Little Joe Woman your fashion label?
Is it more difficult than to being a supermodel? Every job has it’s challenges and of course running a business can be complicated because you want it to be run your way, which you see as best and most profitable. As a model, I was my business – I was in charge of getting myself from A to B. Of course I had agents to book shoots, flights, hotels, cars etc but I was the person who ultimately turned up, was professional, looked the way I was expected to and did the work. Now I have to rely on many others to perform – design assistants, production people, shipping agents, sales agents, store managers, sales girls, accountants, P.R agents and we have to be across all these wonderful people making sure everyone is on top of their jobs. Running me was much easier than running a fashion brand!
What’s the most vital fashion item one should own
in their 20s? A Chanel bag
in their 30s? Cartier Love bracelet
in their 40s? Hermes Birkin bag
in their 50s?A beautiful pen
What is the difference between the supermodels of your generation and the model elite world now?
Back then there were about 25 of us who worked every day for fifteen years or more and people knew who we were .There were the five ‘Supers’ – Cindy, Christy, Linda, Claudia and Naomi. Then there was the next tier like Helena Christensen, Yasmin Le Bon, Yasmine Ghauri, Carla Bruni, Eva Hertigova, Karen Mulder, myself and the rest of the girls. Now there are thousands of models out there and it’s difficult to keep up with them because they change from season to season. In the late 80s and 90s at fashion shows we’d have five to seven looks per designer for their runway shows and your popularity to the designer would be judged by this – if he loved you, you’d have even a couple more outfits – nowadays models are booked to walk in one outfit only. Of course there are the occasional Elite model these days who really stand out like Natalia Vodinova, Giselle and the hottest right now, Gigi Hadid but I imagine it would be a very difficult industry for a model to be in these days because of the enormous amount of competition.
Best and worst of growing old?
There is no best and worst of growing old – ultimately, that’s life but I’ll say I’m so much more confident and comfortable being who I am today, than the person I was in my 20s or 30s.
Success to me is the luxury of time….
Would you do a playboy centrefold at this stage of your life?
This question is no longer relevant because Playboy are no longer shooting nudes!! ? !!
What colour lipstick do you wear at night?
I only ever wear nude / beige lipstick or gloss – day or night and have probably 20 different shades from everyone from Nars, Chanel and YSL to MAC, and Model Co.
If you could have bought shares in one business from the 90s what would it have been?
Describe your favourite girls weekend and who’s invited?
My bridesmaids 18 years ago when I married my husband Joe Coffey, were Cindy Crawford, Yasmin Le Bon, Helena Christensen, Dawn Elliott (my sister) and Georgina Bartlett ( my school friend)- they were and always will be my favourite girls weekend and I’m still best friends with them all.
What’s your greatest personal fear?
The deep ocean….
What do you want next Christmas?
If I could make you ten years younger than you are now would you do it?
In the Duran Duran video A View to A Kill you were the model that Nick photographs, What can you remember most about filming that music video?
I LOVED shooting that video! Duran Duran were the biggest band in the world at the time and we were shooting on the Eiffel Tower in Paris – how many people get to experience the closing of the Eiffel Tower for a shoot in their lives! Yasmin Parveneh, as she was then, had just gone on her first date with Simon Le Bon to the Harrison Ford Movie Premier of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Yassy and I had the same model agent, Models One in London but we’d never met. I wore a super sexy dress and leather jacket by my favourite designer, Azzedine Alaia, who we all loved at the time and still do.I remember that Hot Pink YSL lipstick I wore, was very happening at the time.
Did Grace Jones behave?
Grace and I didn’t shoot together – they super imposed her movie film footage in with our video footage but I met her many times when we all used to live in New York and she was dating the actor Rut Gahower (spell check) and she was always pretty naughty!
Your husband Joe Coffey is a screen writer director what’s the best thing he’s ever written in your opinion?
When my husband Joe Coffey and I met, he was a screen writer / director and he wrote and directed some amazing short films, one of which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and another that was in competition at the Leister Square theatre in London. We had to change our wedding date by a day so we could fly to London after our wedding to make the screening. He also wrote and directed a short film with Eva Hertigova, that I produced and Tico Torres from Bon Jovi wrote and produced the soundtrack for. Joe is now the CEO of our brand Little Joe Woman and runs the company so no longer has time to write but one day I hope he will be able to write again because it’s his passion, is exceptionally good at it and I love reading his work.
What’s the secret to a successful marriage?
UNCONDITIONAL…LOVE – RESPECT – DEVOTION – TRUST
Who caught the bouquet at your wedding? Did you aim or was it a random throw?
I threw it to Cindy and she and Rande were married the following year!
What was your wedding song?
Our first dance was to Lilac Wine by Jeff Buckley.
When’s the last time you told someone you loved them?
What’s something you haven’t done yet that you want to do before you leave this planet?
We’d love to sail around the Caribbean for a year on a Catamaran.
You are a time traveller who returns to meet your 21 year old self, what are you going to say to that Gail Elliott?
“You’re a very lucky person and you’re about to experience a wonderful life – be kind, be thoughtful, be honest and enjoy every moment.”
Are they still the same person?
What colour is happiness and what does it smell like?
White- and it smells like jasmine.
What gets you out of bed every day?
The excitement of a new day! XX
Favourite character in Seinfeld?
I don’t watch Seinfeld.
In one word define the necessary ingredient required for the perfect life? #LOVETRUSTDEVOTIONRESPECT