Photos: Penny Wincer

One thing really did lead to another for freelance fashion editor/ stylist Mouchette Bell. A guest-lecturing position morphed into modelling the student collections at Graduate Fashion Week, where she was spotted on the catwalk by an agent from Models 1. ‘I modelled years ago in the 1980s, for some quite big people,’ Mouchette tells me modestly, going on to add, ‘Peter Lindbergh, Italian Vogue….‘ Now back on the books and excited about her new adventure, she’s delighted that her model card sits next to Twiggy’s at the agency HQ.

Like her former colleague Grace Coddington, after modelling (and a 30-minute interview with Anna Wintour) Mouchette moved onto working at British Vogue magazine. Eventually heading to New York to take up a role as a fashion editor on Mademoiselle  – while studying fashion history at Parson’s School of Design. Her time in New York was unfortunately cut short, when she lost everything including an apartment near the Twin Towers in the 9/11 attacks. Back in London, Mouchette picked up her styling work, freelancing for magazines including: Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Tatler and Red. And eventually things turned full circle with the relaunch of her modelling career.

We caught up last week for a quick chat:

TNMA: How does it feel to be back on the other side of the camera lens?

MB: ‘Modelling now feels much better. I was very insecure when I was younger and I’m more comfortable with it now. It’s a new beginning for me and freelance styling is so precarious. I feel very excited and feel that my experience means I have something to give – I hope I can encourage other people. I don’t mind being older and I would never have injections; I’m proud I’ve got this far.’

TNMA: What do you think about Edward Enninful being appointed editor at Vogue – do you think things are changing?

MB: Edward Enninful is super-talented and there are many aspects to his hiring that are very exciting. I’m very glad. It’s important to have diversity and talent – and I think there is a change; I was actually the first mixed race person at Vogue in the 1980s and there was an element of resentment if you weren’t from a certain set. You had to be brave and strong and be able to get on with it.’

TNMA: How would you describe your style?

MB: ‘I love the transformative power of clothes. I’m a mixture myself and so can be a bit schizophrenic about style. (Mouchette has an Irish mother and a Nigerian father). If I could really spend I’d like to buy vintage Yves Saint Laurent or a piece of couture from Dior or Valentino. Day-to-day I do like comfort, I love denim. A lot. And Yuzuru Koga’s incredible indigo Japanese print designs. One of my all-time favourite designers is Paul Smith – but I’m very strict about clothes at the moment. I still pop into Gap and COS and buy a lot of thrift at Portobello Market on Friday mornings. I always go to galleries for inspiration – I’ve just been to the National Gallery to look at the Cranach paintings.’

TNMA: You have the best jewellery – talk me through it and how you accessorise.

MB: ‘I specialise in styling fine jewellery and watches and learnt a lot while working for Tatler – it was like working with pieces of art. The hammered gold earrings and ring are vintage Hervé Van der Straeten, the choker (second picture) is Jacqueline Rabun a designer who was around in the nineties and has recently made a comeback. The other necklaces are from my mammy. I always have to add. Even if I’m wearing something really plain, or stomping around in brogues. I’ll always wear jewellery, add a touch of something romantic or precious.’

Have a look at Mouchette’s portfolio including photos from the 1980s and more recent pictures HERE.

15 thoughts on “Creative Women at Work: Mouchette Bell returns to modelling in her 50s

  1. Wow! Mouchette looks beautiful! I’d love some guidance on choosing jewellery – even where to buy some interesting pieces but also how to choose what to wear – on a budget. Any guidance or websites very welcome. Thanks in advance.

  2. Mouchette’s story and her style have made a great post, thanks Alyson. If anyone doubts the need for change at Vogue just look at the all-staff photo shoot for Alexandra Shulman’s leaving edition September 2017. Not a person of colour to be seen! I was genuinely shocked that it could be like this in London in 2017. The new people at the top of Vogue have a lot to do if the magazine is to regain relevance today.

  3. Lovely to see Mouchette’s modelling pictures from then and now. She looks fabulous whatever age and it is great to see the fashion world embracing older models. Her white top is fantastic. I agree that there definitely should be more diversity at Vogue and hopefully we will see that now.

  4. I think this is the step in the right direction for ageless style!! It’s so nice to see women our age out and about as the models!! And it’s nice to hear the story behind the face!!
    I keep telling my mom (the 70+ model on my blog) that we could sign her up with an agency. But she laughs and says it’s hard enough modelling for the blog!!
    Thanks Alyson!

  5. “… I would never have injections ….” So wonderful to hear that. I’m on the cusp of of deciding whether I should have “work done.” Am considering all the downsides — mostly about how once I get on that train I can never get off.

  6. Mouchette (gorgeous name) is a truly beautiful woman I can’t believe that we haven’t seen more of her since her early days of modelling. What a stunning lady – a warm smile, fantastic skin, natural hair and natural (perfect) teeth – Mouchette’s jewellery styling is perfection but looks so comfortable and insouciant at the same time. Thank you for bringing her to our attention.

  7. Too much fun looking at her pix. And those prices on the Mademoiselle mag! Were things really ever that cheap?

  8. Thanks for introducing us to Mouchette. Good for her to now be modelling and confident in her appearance. Beautiful woman with lovely style. Looks super in Broderie Anglais white dress.
    As for injections or surgery I’ve had none. Didn’t want to start on something I couldn’t afford to continue indefinitely. In conversation with a heavily facelifted acquaintance who told me she had to do it to keep looking viable so she can still work I told her I’d rather buy a chair, like one of the classics from Knoll than spend the money tweaking my face. I try to maintain appearance via face cream low booze consumption little sunbathing without hats sunglasses and sun cream and generally healthy lifestyle. Everyone to their own and within their own means no doubt.

  9. I couldn’t agree more with her statement: I’ll always wear jewelry, add a touch of something romantic or precious.
    I love vintage costume jewelry and feel unprepared for the day if I’m not wearing a statement necklace or a bracelet. As Ms Bell illustrates so beautifully, it’s important to add some jewelry to your outfit in order to personalize what you are wearing. Jewelry can really elevate a simple look.

  10. Wow!! I LOVED LOVED Mouchette Bell back in the 90s. I remember her saying she loved a red lip. So glad to see her modelling again. She looks so naturally beautiful here. Her mix of jewelry pieces are so individual and each piece clearly has it’s own story.

  11. What an inspirational piece and what a stunning woman. This is what so many women are looking for – beautiful style and a sense of class to guide us that reflects ourselves as we now are with the wisdom of life experiences rather than trying to dress as if we were 21.

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