The celebrated Sixties model is back in front of the cameras - as the new face of Viyella. She talks to Hilary Alexander
In pictures: Patti Boyd in Viyella
Eyes shining, skin glowing and hair artfully tousled, Patti Boyd looks confident, healthy and happy. A former model, Sixties dolly-bird, and ex-wife of not one but two rock stars - the late George Harrison and Eric Clapton - Patti has long left the celebrity circuit behind. However, the British heritage brand Viyella has managed to persuade her to appear in front of the camera once again, as its new "face".
"Returning to modelling hadn't crossed my mind until Viyella invited me to front the winter campaign," she says. "These days, I'm much happier behind the camera."
Boyd, who has been taking photographs since the Sixties, has forged an enviable career as a photographer and, in the past year, has held major exhibitions in San Francisco and Rotterdam. She has snapped many of the major Sixties rock stars, but some of her most prized shots are from the Beatles' visit to the Maharishi in India in 1968, when she was married to Harrison.
|Patti Boyd: 'I tried Botox once, but the pain was absolutely excrutiating'|
"It really started as a hobby but, as time went on, I found I always had a camera with me. And then, after my divorce from Eric, I realised I had something I could do for myself as a career," says Boyd. "I started working for magazines [she is a contributing editor for Harpers & Queen], and then friends began asking me to do their portraits, or photograph their children; things just snowballed."
Now in her late fifties, Boyd keeps in shape by doing Pilates twice a week and powerwalking, either in the country or, when she's in London, around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
"I'd say I'm quite happy with the way I look," she says. "There are times when I look in the mirror and think I'd love to have a tweak here and there. But lines show that you have had an enjoyable life. I tried Botox once, but the pain was absolutely excrutiating. I'm not tempted to try it again."
Viyella believes she embodies the brand's new slogan, "Fabulous at Every Age", a campaign that crowns a year of revamping and sales increases under the guidance of its managing director, Christine Lucas. The campaign is being celebrated with an exciting competition to find the next "face" of Viyella.
'Looking great is no longer about what age you are," says Lucas. "It's about creating your own personal style and attitude. Baby boomers like Patti, Susan Sarandon and Trudi Styler have redefinined the forties and fifties.
"It's a great market to design for, because these women are affluent, mostly professional, they like clothes, and they want to invest in good quality, stylish outfits."
Viyella's recent market research shows that the 50-plus female shopper outspends her younger counterparts significantly - spending, on average, £440 a month, compared with £378.
"So many brands feel they have to leave the mature customer, and I can't understand it - these women like to spend," says Lucas.
The new winter collection, which is designed to form the building blocks of a modern wardrobe, features pieces in tweed, velvet, houndstooth and sheepskin, relaxed tailoring, statement coats, and ultra-feminine skirt suits.
Key items include a luxurious, washable, fake-shearling jacket in tan or blonde, £399, a claret devoré velvet dress (as worn here by Patti), £139, and a cocoa cardigan with ribbon embroidery and pretty glass buttons, £69.