Catherine Loewe is a remarkable woman with a remarkable story. As a genuine supermodel in her category, who has worked with everyone from H&M to Jean Paul Gaultier, I have watched her career evolve and flourish.
I recently took the opportunity to chat with Catherine in Geneva about the many things that people don't know about Catherine Loewe the supermodel.
GL: As a relative new comer to the business, when was it that you thought you could become a model?
“When I was asked to model I actually thought it was a joke. I had a very full life and it has never entered my head that I could or would do this.
But having been in many serious professional roles I felt that to be a model would be something completely different and fun, and give me an opportunity to explore the artistic side of my character.”
GL: How did you find it?
“How much you enjoy it of course depends on who I am working with.
But what I found most interesting is that when a lot of people in the industry first saw me they created images for me that reflected a dominating woman, which did not reflect who I am or how I feel about myself. This was initially quite difficult to fit into, but I resolved that if I was going to continue I would need to learn to be an actress and play a role in front of the camera. And I did.
However, I have found that the most enjoyable and interesting experiences are always with those who want to create something that reflects my personality and the essence of the person that I am.
GL: In terms of designers who are your favourites?
This is a difficult question. I don't have a favourite – I love beauty and if people are creating in a way that respects curves, and beauty and I have an emotional response to that creativity, then that resonates with me.
If we look at Coco Channel, what she did went a long way to help free women – it wasn't just about designing clothes.
Saint Laurent was a great creator, Lagerfeld as well. For me it all comes down to whether there is beauty in a creation for me or not.
GL: What is your favourite outfit?
When I was 18-20 I was very tall and skinny. I had shot up very quickly and hadn’t really developed any shape and so I had a lot of problems finding clothes that would fit me in the department stores. Back then you could get patterns for Yves Saint Laurent clothing and so I started to make them myself. The style that I loved was ‘man-style’ trousers paired with a white shirt. This was much like Katherine Hepburn, who had the most incredible outfits – they were not only chic, but comfortable. I believe you can do anything with this kind of outfit and you will always be chic and elegant.
Even when I am modelling. I always say to the designers, if you really want people to, as we say in French, 'Habiter un vêtement’, or ‘live beautifully in the clothes’, they must be comfortable. If you are comfortable in the clothing you will look beautiful in it.
For example the shoes we have now are so high that you can’t even walk in them. I like it when the models can move like dancers, with grace and elegance and the right height of shoes helps with this. You can see this with the models in the 50s and 60s.
GL: What was the job that you loved the most that you believe could have captured your essence?
I have spent my life as a lawyer and in business, in the world of men - particularly when I started. In this world I had to be strong and show I was as able as men to manage things, which wasn't always easy. After 20 years I went back to study the history of art. This was very enjoyable and gave me exposure to creative people.
Involvement in the fashion industry was very synergistic with this study as the outfits worn in a society have always been very meaningful. For example in the period of the Renaissance you can see that the outfit says everything about someone’s social position.
GL:Where do you see yourself heading in the beauty industry? What is your vision?
For the most part beauty is linked to youth. My vision is to prove to women that beauty when you are older is something from inside. This seems basic, but if you are comfortable in your life you will see that in your behaviour and on your face.
Age is a privilege as with age your priorities change and you are interested in the essence of life and not just focussed on the big goals – earning money, having children and keeping a good job. At this stage you are not as involved in the deep sense of life and what it means. This comes later I believe.
GL: Many women feel that they become invisible when they turn 60, but as you turned 60 you became more visible. What would you say to those women?
I consider that I have been lucky to be in a position to be admired and this is a privilege. However, we are in a very new phenomenon where 60 has become in many ways, the new youth.
In generations past, grandmothers were 50 and turning 35 was considered old. With the extension of our life span becoming old is now 90 or 100. So at 60 there is much living yet to take place.
GL: I believe your grey hair has created a range of reactions with people?
Many people interview me about having white hair.
I find it incredible how people are reacting to the concept of women going grey and not hiding it. Many women are saying that we are ‘free to choose’ to keep dying our hair or not, while others are feeling guilty for dying their hair but saying that men think it makes them look too old and is not sexy.
What I find most interesting is that the condition and colour of the hair is linked in the Limbic brain to reproduction and seduction appeal i.e. the quality of the hair is a reflection of a woman’s reproductive capability.
So women with white hair are breaking the codes as they are traditionally not supposed to be sexually active, or seductive, as it is a sign of old age.
GL: We need great role models to help women see that they have the ability to recreate themselves at any age - in the way that you have reinvented yourself from a lawyer to a supermodel - and give themselves the opportunity to rise to a new challenge if they want to; as I believe that what doesn't challenge you doesn't change you.
I agree. It is difficulties that give you experience and the opportunity to ask good questions of life. Without problems there are no challenges or learnings and then what does that mean?
GL: What advice would you give to women about ageing?
In a society where youth is the most valuable commodity, women feel so much pressure as they age to continually strive for this.
We need to remain strong and say ‘no’ and be comfortable with ourselves. We need to say this loudly and clearly as very few are saying it.
Look at what women are told every time they open a magazine – get fit, lose weight, change… The criteria is crazy.
This has to change but it takes real discipline of mind to focus on the here and now, and not long for what we had in the past.
GL: My first book was based on my philosophy of BEAUTY that talks about inner qualities creating and shaping our real beauty. These are the principles that underpin a person’s quality of life and not just their beauty. You have obviously struck a balance with this.
I deeply believe we are nothing but energy.
This has an impact with your interactions – you resonate with people who share the same energy.
GL: Many people prefer to see those in the fashion and beauty industry as only having physical characteristics and nothing more. Yet because you have come into fashion later in life, you are bringing that world with you to the industry in a way that can be seen in every photo. As I always say to my wife, when you look into the younger model’s eyes you see a city, but when you look into an older model’s eyes, you see a whole Universe.
At my age I have so many experiences that I have gone through that shape and drive you to uncover the real meaning of life.
During these last few years I have been faced with difficult situations, and I am probably here in this way because I am a naturally positive person.
But if you ask me what happiness is, I respond with something that is very basic in concept…that as long as humanity exists the simplest things are the hardest to achieve…to be present and to enjoy the present moment and choose to be happy in this moment.
GL: An aspiration for us all!
There is no doubt Catherine Loewe is a super model who is not only bringing real change to the fashion industry, but through her striving to be her best self in every way, has now become a super role model for people everywhere!
Catherine Loewe is represented by NEXT Management in New York, Paris & London.
GL SKINFIT INSTITUTE®