What on earth do you wear when you're going to interview a supermodel?
The answer is, it doesn't really matter because when you're in the company of a reknowned beauty with the presence and charisma that comes from years of being in the public eye, nobody is looking at you.
Elle Macpherson is a every bit as beautiful as she was 30 years ago, when she went from an Aussie model to an international supermodel nicknamed The Body. The fact that she's still gorgeous didn't surprise me.
What did surprise me was how warm and generous and kind she was. And that says a lot about my own prejudices. I arrived, prickly and far too ready to compare our contemporaneous 50-year-old faces and find myself wanting. I ended up aching to invite her over for a Sunday afternoon at my place in Grey Lynn, on the couch, a drink in hand and stories at the ready.
Because at 52, Elle Macpherson is just like the rest of my friends, juggling work, husbands, children, step-children, tax returns, friends and tryng to find time for her self. She's the coolest mum, the best friend ever, the good daughter - and the hottest woman you'll see all year. She's also staked her claim as businesswoman of the year. From being the face of a lingerie brand, Elle is now co-owner - and co-decision maker - of what goes on at Elle Macpherson Body.
"This is a new project on many levels,' Elle said. "From being the face of a brand for very many years, this is a natural progression for me. I'm co-owner and co-founder of Elle Macpherson Body so that means I'm involved in everything from the strategy, to finance, to marketing, advertising, design and really across the board working with my partner."
Elle's business partner is Simon de Winter, a Melbourne entrepreneur with a background in apparel manufacture and together he and Elle have formed a 50/50 joint venture. Solomon Lew is also instrumental in the business.
I was delighted to discover, on looking through the racks, that the new Elle Macpherson Body bras go beyond D cups. Those women more amply endowed will know just how difficult it is to find a well-fitting, supportive bra that doesn't look like it was issued in the Soviet Russian era. The other good news is that a lot of the knickers in Elle's range have actual bottoms - bits that cover your bum cheeks, not tiny strips of material that nestle in your buttocks and then spend the rest of the day trying to bisect you.
"I'm a big fan of bums", Elle laughs.
"I like a high waisted knicker. I think they're really cool and yes, I know they're a throwback to the eighties but they make your legs look long. And good lingerie gives you the perfect silhouette. ... Under your clothes and when you take your clothes off, I want to see beauty. I've paid a lot of attention to the detailing on the back of my bras and knickers because I turn my back when I get changed - even in front of my husband. I'm quite modest. So I want to make the shoulders look wide, the waist look slim, the legs look long - and that's all in cut and design."
I may have taken a moment before the next question because I was reeling at the concept that Elle is discreet and modest when it comes to disrobing. Hell, if I had her body, just for one day, I would be getting my kit off and high kicking my way up and down Ponsonby Rd just for the hell of it.
Elle laughs - "What can I say? I turn my back! You've got to keep a little bit of mystery!"
Her sporty range is practical but very, very pretty. The everyday bras and knickers come in a variety of styles and shapes and colours. And there are also some gorgeous pieces of nonsense in the new range - lacy, sexy pieces that I suggest are perfect for saints' days, public holidays and husbands' birthdays.
"Yes', Elle laughs.
"Friday night knickers they call them in England- in case you get lucky!"
Elle has a lot of input from her family when it came to the design of the lingerie. She has two stepdaughters aged 16 and 18 who were only buying from Victoria's Secret.
"I was like "wait a second', Elle says.
"There's got to be another way to do sexy without wings on your back! ... I said I want to make bras and knickers for you that are cool and they've really helped me. They've given me feedback on the things that they want and on the things that they think are missing in the market. And I'm designing for myself and my mum and I've really taken into consideration all the feedback that my family and friends have given me."
Elle is delighted to be the brains and the body behind this new range but her definition of success goes way beyond volume sales.
"Look, a lot of people's definition of success is money, power, status, recognition and I think, probably, at different times of my life, I've believed that was a definition of success. Today, I believe success equals fulfilment and also the willingness and the courage to go through the day-in and day-out sort of stuff, the good stuff and the not so easy stuff and still do it with a sense of humour and a smile, keeping the faith, not giving up, trying new things, being creative and to me that's success. It has nothing to do with how much money you have in the bank, or how many covers of magazines you have. That doesn't fill my heart. I get more of a blast out of my sons' achievements than anything I've achieved.
"In life, it's not about what you say, it's about what you do. That's one of the values I teach my children. What I've done is act upon my dreams and wishes and hopes and not talk about it too much and just do it. And starting my own lingerie business is an example of that. Moving from the billboard to the boardroom is definitely a process. It happens over a period of time."
I'm only human. I had to ask how she managed to look so good. Genetics play a part, sure, but was there an elixir to youth that Elle could share with the rest of us mere mortals?
"When I was younger, I could rely on genetics but as I've matured, I've realised good nutrition is the key to beauty. Nutrition is a key to beauty and that's why I started my business. I believe in beauty from the inside out, plus I want to feel good not just look good."
Right. Sleep. Good food. Exercise. If only there was a pill for all that. Still, if being in the presence of Elle is not enough to make you want to at least try to follow her advice, you're a lost cause. I wondered what she thought about the rise of the Instagram model in this modern age - where every girl thinks she can be the next supermodel.
"I do think social media is wonderful in that it's broadened our horizons as to what we see as being beautiful. So we have every day girls, photographing themselves very well in the style that they like, great hair and makeup, great light, presenting themselves as being really beautiful. There was a time when beauty was reserved for girls who were at an agency, and they were on billboards for big companies, but today everyone can be perceived as beautiful and I feel that is a real step forward. We're honouring our individuality, and our uniqueness and people are saying I can find parts of myself that I think are really cool and I can share it with other people. So I definitely think there's a place for social media and presentation of beauty.
"This new venture is a culmination of 25 years in lingerie, it's fantastic to get to where I am, I really love my team and I'm really proud of the product we have in stores now."