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New book solves the mystery of an unlikely literary friendship



Ethel Turner’s Seven Little Australians made her a Sydney celebrity capable of earning more than her husband, a judge. 

The brutal realism of Baynton’s stories of bush life was a world away from Turner’s tales of lovably, unruly children, set in Sydney suburbia. The two women were contrasts in style. Baynton was a wealthy widow, renowned for her jewellery and her outrageous wit. Then-prime minister Billy Hughes delighted in her company because they could have a good argument together. Baynton moved restlessly between Sydney and London while Turner, barrister’s wife and mother of two, lived sedately in Mosman.

When the two went shopping together, Turner was a Sydney celebrity. Her first novel, Seven Little Australians, was a sensation in 1894. London publishers competed for more novels from the 24-year-old newcomer. From then on, Turner managed an extraordinary literary career, so profitable that she earned more than her husband, even when he became a judge.

There were drawbacks. In the strictly monitored market for young people’s fiction, Turner was often censored. References to divorce were removed by her London editor. Turner was ‘‘wildly angry’’ when a saccharine title was imposed on a novel with a serious theme. But by the time she made her protests, by sea mail, it was too late. The most striking example of censorship was the removal of her comment, in Seven Little Australians, on the ‘‘evil’’ that white men had brought to the Aboriginal people. For her London publisher, the colonial record was sacrosanct.

Turner’s novels were checked for slang. ‘‘My oath!’’ became ‘‘My word!’’. Turner rebelled now and then, urging her publishers to accept an adult novel. No use: it was juvenile fiction that London wanted from her. She delivered. With 35 novels and short story collections – many of them what we would now call ‘‘young adult’’ – as well as a great deal of journalism, Turner was a phenomenon.

Much of Barbara Baynton's professed life story was an invention.

Much of Barbara Baynton’s professed life story was an invention.

By contrast, Baynton published little and late. She owes her belated fame to Bush Studies, published in London in 1902, when she was in her 40s. Turner and Baynton first met in the 1890s, when they both had stories accepted by the Sydney Bulletin, but their careers went in quite different directions.

Baynton’s Bush Studies was dropped into the slush pile of many London publishers before Edward Garnett, a devoted reader of Russian literature, saw genius in its grim and angry pages. It wasn’t a popular success. Australian pride in the idea of mateship was demolished. It was a furious contradiction of Henry Lawson’s bush tradition.

When the women’s movement discovered Baynton in the 1980s, readers were baffled by the details then known about her life. How could this twice-divorced, titled grande dame have written with such authority, and such bitterness, about the privations of bush women?

The mystery of Baynton’s early life was unravelled in 1980, when two Queensland scholars, Sally Krimmer and Alan Lawson, took the trouble to search public documents. Certificates of birth, marriage and death revealed that the rich, imperious Baynton was born Barbara Lawrence, the seventh child of a bush carpenter in Scone, New South Wales. Much of her own account of herself was an invention. She changed her father’s identity, her mother’s name, and her own age. Even her grandchildren believed her romantic stories.

The prosaic truth was one of struggle and privation. She worked as a governess and married her employer’s eldest son. That sounds like a happy ending but Alexander Frater was a shiftless wastrel who left her destitute with their three small children. She was humiliated by his affair with her 19-year- old niece, whom he later married.

‘Baynty was such fun, we loved her even when she was impossible.’

Isla Chomley Marsh

Penniless, she left her children in her mother’s care, and went to Sydney to look for work. She took the then-unusual step of suing for divorce and was successful. The day after it was made absolute, styling herself a widow, she married a wealthy Sydney doctor, Thomas Baynton, for whom she had worked as a housekeeper. She was then 33. Thomas, a childless widower, was a 70-year-old collector of fine furniture. He must also have been a good teacher. Under his guidance, Baynton transformed her manners and vowels and became a shrewd judge of furniture and jewellery. She also began to write. The rage she had felt as a deserted wife and mother was released in the strange, bitter stories in Bush Studies.

Thomas Baynton died in 1904, leaving all his money to his wife, with absolute freedom to do as she pleased with it. Restless and lonely, Baynton established herself in a magnificent house in London, but kept some Sydney friends whom she saw on her frequent visits home. One of these was Ethel Turner.

I first heard about Baynton’s London years in 1983 when I was writing a biography of Martin Boyd, the expatriate Australian novelist. I was in Perth, interviewing Boyd’s cousin, Isla Chomley Marsh, about his wartime years in London, where he had spent periods of leave from the Royal Flying Corps with the Chomley family. Our talk of Boyd soon wandered into other memories of 1916 and later years, when Baynton was another regular guest at the Chomleys’ house.

‘‘Baynty was such fun, we loved her even when she was impossible,’’ Marsh said. ‘‘She used to telephone and ask what we were having for dinner and then invite herself.’’ Baynton joined in everything, card games and word games. ‘‘Baynty took a great fancy to Marty.’’

Although I had come to talk about Boyd, I couldn’t resist hearing more about Baynton. Marsh had been looking at her old diaries in preparation for my visit and she began to read aloud from them. But it was a hot afternoon; Marsh was then in her 90s, and she became too tired to continue. I stood up to leave, but she urged me to wait. ‘‘Just a little rest and I will be back,’’ she said, disappearing to her bedroom.

Ethel Turner's papers and writing materials on show during an exhibition on her life.

Ethel Turner’s papers and writing materials on show during an exhibition on her life. Credit:Fairfax Media

In her absence, I looked longingly at the stack of diaries on the table. It was a big temptation to keep reading. But I thought of the ‘‘publishing scoundrel’’ in Henry James’ The Aspern Papers, caught in the act and disgraced. I made some notes and waited.

Eventually, Marsh came back; we had some tea and she returned to her memories. She recalled the postwar years and Baynton’s brief marriage, aged 63, to an eccentric peer, Lord Headley. What a disaster that had been! Boyd had been caught up in the divorce and when Headley threatened to name him as co-respondent, Boyd, then in his 20s, had to be smuggled out of London to avoid being called into court.

‘‘Of course, it was ridiculous,’’ Marsh said. But Boyd had been so angry that he wrote a novel under a pseudonym with Baynton as the central character. Everyone read it, and there was no mistaking Baynton, with her jewels and her grand house, her dinner parties, her drinking and her witty conversation.

‘‘Marty was sorry later and he wrote another novel about Baynty that was more sympathetic,’’ Marsh said. Boyd never knew what Baynton’s early life had been but he guessed at a ‘‘profound sorrow’’ from which her social climbing had been no more than a distraction.

Marsh recalled a voyage to Australia, with Baynton as her chaperone. ‘‘She was very difficult – we clashed a lot.’’ Baynton gave advice from her own experience: ‘‘Every woman should marry three times. Once for money, once for position, once for love. But make sure to get them in the right order. I didn’t.’’

With Marsh’s testimony in mind, I thought about the contradictions of Baynton’s life. When I found that her name recurred in Ethel Turner’s papers, I was puzzled. How to account for a very affectionate letter from Turner to Baynton in the mid-1920s? Looking more closely, I found the key.

The two women had worked together for the Ashfield Infants’ Home and both were passionately opposed to the common practice of removing newborn babies from unmarried mothers. Baynton, the deserted wife, and Turner, child of a single mother, were fiercely protective of the Ashfield babies and others in Sydney hospitals. That passion, I thought, revealed the ‘‘real’’ Barbara Baynton and made her comradeship with Ethel Turner entirely convincing.

Brenda Niall’s Friends & Rivals is published by Text on March 31, $34.99.

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Diddy’s Kids Dance In Video With Friends During Quarantine – Hollywood Life




Diddy’s kids are spending quarantine dancing with friends! The hip hop legend shared a clip of his twin daughters leading his 3 sons and some pals in a routine to ‘Lean Wit It Rock Wit It!’

Diddy‘s got a brood of dancers on his hands. The rapper, 50, whose real name is Sean Combs, took to Instagram on Thursday afternoon to brag about his kids — 13-year-old twin daughters Jessie James and D’Lila Star and sons Christian, 22, Justin, 26, and Quincy Comb, 28. The group, along with some friends, showed off a synchronized dance to “Lean Wit It Rock Wit It” by Dem Franchize Boyz.

“Let’s dance WE INSIDE! Ayeee,” Diddy caption a video of his “Combs cartel” in quarantine. The hip hop legend took time to tease a “big dance announcement,” which he told fans is “coming soon” and to “stay tuned.” The family’s group dance came on the same night they celebrated Christian, aka “King’s” 22nd birthday.

Diddy’s post also came after he shared an uplifting message in a video on Instagram, two days prior. “May God bless us all,” he captioned the clip, in which he spoke about blessings and forgiveness amid the coronavirus pandemic.

(Video credit: Diddy/Instagram) 

The proud dad caught the attention of fans on Instagram over the weekend when he debuted a brand new salt and pepper look. Diddy introduced a grey beard and hair to the world in a three-minute video about his efforts to help healthcare works amid the global health crisis.

“We can all help,” he wrote, declaring, “We can’t just sit back and leave our healthcare workers abandoned and unprotected. Over the next few days I’ll be locked in and focused on finding ways to directly support our healthcare workers but I don’t have all the answers. If you want to help or have any great ideas, please reach out to me now! God bless us all,” he concluded with the hashtag, “#teamlove.”

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White Tiger Is Revealed | Season 3 Ep. 10 | THE MASKED SINGER




Rob Gronkowski is behind the mask! Don’t miss new episodes of THE MASKED SINGER, WED at 8/7c only on FOX!

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THE MASKED SINGER is television’s #1 new show, captivating a massive audience of more than 17 million multi-platform viewers in its record-breaking debut. The singing competition series is hosted by Nick Cannon and features panelists Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke.

The show features celebrities facing off against one another with one major twist: each singer is shrouded from head to toe in an elaborate costume, complete with full face mask to conceal his or her identity. Season Three boasts a brand new group of celebrity singers in all-new costumes and masks, including The White Tiger, The Kangaroo and Miss Monster.

With each performance, the host, panelists, audience, viewers and even the other contestants are left guessing who is singing behind the mask. Ranging from Grammy Award winners to legendary athletes, and everything in between, the singers may attempt to throw the crowd off of their scent, while keen observers might pick up on tiny clues buried throughout the show. One singer will be eliminated each week, ultimately revealing his or her true identity. It’s not a “whodunit,” it’s a “whosungit!”

White Tiger Is Revealed As Rob Gronkowski | Season 3 Ep. 10 | THE MASKED SINGER

#AtHomeWith #TheMaskedSinger


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11 Women Over 40 Reclaiming Their Space In Fashion, From Jennifer Lopez To Celine Dion




As the adage goes, ‘age is but a number’. But when it comes to fashion, beauty, romantic relationships, careers and Hollywood it has often seemed that prejudice against ageing, at least for women, is still very much at play.

Up until the 21st century, we were sold the idea that youth and perfection were the markers of success. Fashion, beauty and wellness campaigns used scar, acne, dimple and grey hair-free twentysomethings to sell everything, from anti-wrinkle creams to lingerie. Phrases like ‘turning back the clock’ and ‘bouncing back’ soon became our vernacular, and visual representation of diverse ages among women was as rare as a month of Sundays.

Fortunately, thanks to increased awareness of the need for body positivity, diversity and gender equality, the world has woken up to the importance of celebrating womanhood in all its shape, sizes, ethnicities and ages. For example, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are still mainstays on our television, decades after their careers began, while the likes of Dame Helen Mirren, Jane Fonda, Julia Roberts and Julianne Moore are the faces of international beauty campaigns.

In 2015, Celine cast renowned writer Joan Didion (then aged 80) in its campaign wearing oversized black sunglasses and sporting a white-coloured blunt bob. Three years later, the famous 1990s ‘Supers’ stormed the runway at Versace. Just last year, Patti Hansen, Christy Turlington and Kirsten Owen walked for Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs and Simone Rocha, respectively, at SS19’s fashion week, before AW19 saw a jump in models over the age of 50 increase by 33 per cent from the following season, per the Fashion Spot Diversity report. With five of Balenciaga’s 56 models aged over 50, designer Demna Gvasalia later told ELLE UK: ‘When I go on the street in Paris now, this is what I see.’

Victor VIRGILEGetty Images

This month, supermodel Claudia Schiffer graces the cover of ELLE UK and opens up about being a fashion leader for 30 years. The 49-year-old tells us that she isn’t jealous of the new generation of fashion stars on the catwalk, adding: ‘I can’t think of anything worse right now than if you said, “There’s a magic pill and it’s going to make you look 20 again.”’

In honour of Schiffer, we take a look at 11 women over 40, who are reclaiming their space in fashion:

Older Women In Fashion 


We should have known then, that when the singer stepped out in a green plunge-neck ‘jungle dress’ at the 2000 Grammy Awards and inspired the launch of Google’s image search function, her power in the fashion industry would only grow with time. While the star’s most notable fashion moments over the years have included her Armani Privé dress at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party and Donna Karan design at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, it’s her most recent looks that have cemented the 50-year-old’s place on the fashion map.

With the help of fashion stylist and costume designer Rob Zangardi, Lopez has gone on to wear hot pink tulle gowns by Giambattista Valli, silver one-shoulder gowns by Versace, custom Balmain at the Met Gala 2018 and a high-neck mirrored dress by Tom Ford at the 2019 Oscars. However, it was in September 2019 that the fashion world really took note of Lopez’s fashion comeback.

To the surprise of onlookers at the SS20 Versace runway show, the mother-of-two closed the show in an updated version of the green, plunge-necked, silk-chiffon Versace gown that she wore 19 years prior.

‘The entire front row was giddy with excitement when J.Lo appeared,’ ELLE UK’s Editor-In-Chief said at the time. ‘And despite the fact that several of the world’s greatest super models had just walked down that very same catwalk, it was J.Lo who stormed it better than anyone else.’

Avril Mair, ELLE UK’s luxury fashion director, adds: ‘Literally defining fabulous at 50 – in a SS20 season where sex was a runway theme, nobody did it better than J-Lo at Versace. Bronzed and buff, completely self-assured, she showed how powerful it is to see a woman in clothes, rather than a teenaged waif.

Two years later, the star went on to stun again on the international stage at the 2020 Super Bowl, wearing outfits designed by the likes of Peter Dundas, Zangardi and Donatella Versace.

Older Women In Fashion

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While the 52-year-old might be best known for her hit singles including ‘My Heart Will Go On’ and ‘The Power Of Love’, in recent years, the French-Canadian singer has become a fashion icon. Following the death of her husband Rene Angelil in 2016, Dion recruited stylist Law Roach to transform her wardrobe and mindset.

The singer previously told PEOPLE: ‘I’ve always loved fashion, from as far back as I can remember. But as everyone knows, I’ve gone through some extremely difficult times in recent years, and I suppose that I’m spreading my wings a little bit more these days and doing so with the help of beautiful clothing and accessories.’

Over the years, Dion has worn ball gowns, capri catsuits, printed bodysuits and elbow-length gloves from the likes of Zuhair Murad, Atelier Versace, Balmain, Dior and Alexander McQueen and is a regular on the front row, attending Paris’ Haute Couture Week. You only need to take one look at the star’s Instagram account to see her proudly showing off her high-octane glamorous looks.

‘The most fabulous thing about Celine Dion is how much fun she has with fashion – changing outfits for every show at Paris couture week, becoming the biggest street style hit in seasons,’ explains Mair. ‘She’s not taking it or herself too seriously: it’s a great performance.’

Older Women In Fashion

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Yes, you might recognise her from films like Man About Town and Hitch but long before Valletta was discovered by Hollywood, she was a huge name on the fashion circuit.

‘She’s always been the fashion insider’s favourite, a muse to photographers like David Sims and Patrick Demarchelier throughout the 1990s, creating some of that decade’s most memorable imagery,’ say Mair. ‘Now she’s working with Antony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent, bringing her stripped-back magic to his wham-bam-glam shows

The 46-year-old was formerly the face of Chanel, Escada, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Versace and became the face of NARS Cosmetics’ Sprint 2010 collection. While she stepped away from the runway for roles on the small and big screen, she returned to the catwalk in 2017, closing Versace’s AW17 show, before appearing in campaigns for Chanel Watches, Mango and Prada again and on the cover of ELLE US.

Earlier this year, the model joined Kaia Gerber and fellow 1990s models Kirsty Hume and Malgosia Bela to walk in Alexander McQueen’s AW20 show at Paris Fashion Week, months after she stormed the runway at Isabel Marrant’s show in Paris.

The Supers: Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Carla Bruni and Helena Christensen

Older Women in Fashion

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Names like Campbell, Schiffer, Crawford, Bruni and Christensen might be as commonly recognised as ‘tulle’ in the world of fashion, but it wasn’t until the Versace SS18 runway that the industry really took note that you can’t put an expiry date on style and class.

At the end of the show, the five icons came together to bring Milan Fashion Week to its feet, wearing coordinated gold-mesh evening dresses.

While Campbell, Schiffer and Crawford have remained at the forefront of the industry, since being dubbed ‘The Supers’ during the Nineties, Bruni and Christensen appeared to step away from the runway for several years. Since the 1990s, Bruni went on to become a singer and former first lady of France, while Christensen became a co-founder and creative director of Nylon magazine, launched her own clothing line and a photography career.

Since their return to the catwalk in 2018, the five stars have continued to work in fashion and prove that originality is essential for creativity.

Older Women In Fashion 

Victor VIRGILEGetty Images

Sevigny is known as much for her acting skills as her fashion prowess. Despite having roles in the likes of American Psycho, Big Love, Zodiac and Boys Don’t Cry, the 45-year-old has also made a name for herself as a ‘style icon’ for legions of her followers.

Since starting her career as a model after graduating school, the actress has continued to show her love of floral, sharp silhouettes and textured designs, wearing everything from Miu Miu and Loewe to Mugler and Chanel at fashion shows and red carpet events.

‘The ultimate New York street style icon: Chloe has been the ultimate downtown It girl for two decades,’ notes Mair. ‘She manages to make the red carpet cool, which is a rare feat indeed.’

Last year, she returned to the catwalk to walk in Simone Rocha’s AW19 show at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, eight years after walking in Opening Ceremony Resort’s 2012 show, wearing a white dress and lace-up velvet platform shoes. Having recently announced her pregnancy on social media, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for her and her child’s fashion futures.

Older Women in Fashion

Victor BoykoGetty Images

Shalom Harlow was one of several models aged over 40 to walk in Versace’s SS19 show last year, which also saw star Stephanie Seymour close the presentation to the applause of onlookers.

But long before then, Harlow had risen to fame walking in the top runways in New York and Paris and co-hosting MTV’s House of Style with Valetta. She later went to carve out a role for herself in Hollywood, starring in films such as Vanilla Sky and How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days.

Despite taking a hiatus from modelling in recent years (her last runway show before Versace was at Alexander Wang’s AW12 show at NYFW), the 1990s supermodel has returned to the scene with the help of Donatella, starring in its SS19 campaign shoot alongside Irina Shayk and Bella Hadid.

Mair recalls: ‘Harlow is an actual living fashion legend, partly because she left the industry – and left us wanting more.

‘Her performance at Alexander McQueen’s SS19 show, where she was spray painted by robots, is one of the runway’s most iconic moments.’

Older Women in Fashion

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Long before she became known for her roles in Girlfriends and Black-ish, the American actress and TV host worked as a model. Aged 11, she posed for Andy Warhol with her famous mother Diana and her sisters, before walking for Thierry Mugler as a teenager.

Now a FROW regular at the likes of Valentino Haute Couture, Chanel and Marc Jacobs shows, in 2019, she launched an affordable haircare line, Pattern, created for people with curly and tight-textured hair and hosted the Fashion Awards.

At the show, she celebrated the best of design, wearing clothes by Richard Quinn, Erdem, Gucci and Simone Rocha.

‘Fashion people love people who love fashion – and that’s Tracee. She dresses up!’ says Mair.

Older Women in Fashion

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Long before her name was synonymous with her famous daughters Bella and Gigi, Yolanda Hadid – born Yolanda van den Herik – was a Dutch supermodel who walked in fashions shows in Milan, Paris and New York during her 15-year career. In 1994, she moved to Los Angeles and married property developer Mohamed Hadid. She later went on to star in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

In February 2020, the model returned to the runway for the first time in over three decades to join her daughters at the Off-White AW20 at NYFW fashion Week. The show opened with Bella wearing a black ruffle gown and closed with her older sister closing the show in a wedding dress.

However, it was midway through the runway presentation that the show’s attendees spotted the matriarch storming the runway in a white blazer emblazoned with graffiti print, black cigarette trousers and black sunglasses.

We’re expecting to see a lot more from Hadid over the years.

Mair jokes: ‘Wasn’t Yolanda giving us Gigi and Bella enough? Clearly it’s all in the genes here.’

Watch this space.

Older Women in Fashion

Peter WhiteGetty Images

Nineties’ favourite, British supermodel Stella Tennant, aged 49, appears to have never left the catwalk, if her recent resumé is anything to go by.

Having started her career in the early 1990s, posing for Steve Meisel and Bruce Weber, she went on to become the new face of Chanel and appear in campaigns for major luxury fashion brans like Calvin Klein and Burberry. She was also one of the key figures in the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, walking with Kate Moss, Lily Cole and Campbell.

‘Granddaughter of Deborah Mitford, the Duchess of Devonshire, Stella exudes aristocratic class and a playful, eccentric sense of style,’ says Mair. ‘She’s an English rose with an edge, clever and artistic. Powerfully, she’s also allowing herself to age gracefully and naturally.

Having stepped away from the catwalk for some years, the star returned last year to walk in a sleek camel-toned look at Burberry during LFW before walking in Yves Saint Laurent’s show at PFW wearing a fitted suit and sheer shirt and wearing the dress du jour at Sarah Burton’s Alexander McQueen SS20 show.

Her love for the catwalk continues, with Tennant walking at Valentino’s Haute Couture show in a mermaid skirt and pale pink blouse and for Antonin Tron in February 2020.

Older Women in Fashion

Ki PriceGetty Images

Mair notes: ‘When we talk about runway diversity, age is often forgotten but a lifetime of experience translates into genuine beauty.’

This 67-year-old model might have retired from the fashion world in her 50s after being diagnosed with breast cancer, but the star is back to the runway to continue her five-decade-long career. Following a casting with Kate Moss for Charlotte Tilbury’s cosmetics brand in her 60s, the model has gone on to work for the likes of Matches and MAC. Earlier this year, she walked in Emilia Wickstead and Preen’s shows.

‘When I started modelling in the 1970s, if you were 40, you were known as an oldie. I never dreamt I’d be able to get work after that,’ she told The Telegraph last year. ‘Besides, I’d had my time. I didn’t want to take it from the younger people.’

Grainger first began modelling aged 21, working for Dior YSL and Schiaparelli. ‘For a long time, older women were invisible – totally invisible,’ she told The Telegraph. But there are so many glamorous women. People worry about getting older but I think it’s the most exciting time; I wouldn’t want to go back.’

Older Women in Fashion

Dia DipasupilGetty Images

It wasn’t hard to miss the legendary supermodel when she walked in Tommy Hilgiger x Zendaya’s 1970s-inspired runway show at Paris Fashion Week last year, or when she closed the show with her signature strut at Hellessy or Naeem Khan’s SS19 show at NYFW.

The 69-year-old was one of the first African-American models in the Sixties and Seventies walking for the likes of Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Thierry Mugler and Diane von Furstenberg. It was during this time that she moved to Paris, vowing not to return to the US until a black model appeared on the American cover of Vogue (which she did after Beverly Johnson successfully achieved this in 1974).

After several stints back modelling and appearing as a guest judge on American’s Next Top Model in the Noughties, she returned to the catwalk at MFW for Moschino and NYFW for Zac Posen and H&M.

‘Just one word here describes Cleveland: iconic,’ states Mair.

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