There aren’t many women who would choose to celebrate their forthcoming 60th birthday by posing in a teeny-tiny bikini and posting a photograph on social media.
But then most women don’t have the rock-hard abs, toned legs and taut décolletage of interior designer Kelly Hoppen, aged 59-and-three-quarters and a grandma to boot, albeit not exactly one of the white-haired bun and comfortable cardigan storybook variety.
Heavens no! With her tumbling pre-Raphaelite curls and all-over caramel tan Kelly is more glam-ma than grandma, as is made plain courtesy of her recent Instagram post which revealed her sylph-like form in all its splendour on a Caribbean wellbeing retreat.
Kelly may be just the latest in a recent line of smoking hot seniors to showcase their bikini bodies: Elizabeth Hurley, Elle Macpherson and Jennifer Aniston are all regular offenders.
Kelly Hoppen choose to celebrate her forthcoming 60th birthday by posing in a teeny-tiny bikini and posting a photograph on social media
But Kelly is almost a decade older than them. ‘It took a lot of courage to post that picture because I’m not that kind of person,’ she says. ‘But it’s no secret I’m turning 60, so I just thought: “I’m going to do it.’’ And the reason I did is to try to inspire other women.’ Inspire them? Make green with envy more like: never mind nudging 60, most women over 40 would rather set fire to their wardrobe than upload a photo of themselves in a minuscule two-piece onto social media.
And she looks like this despite regular big portions of shepherd’s pie and spaghetti bolognese, all chased down with a bottle of Chardonnay . . . oh wait, no she doesn’t.
It probably comes as no surprise to learn that Kelly’s enviably trim frame — 5ft 5in, 8½st and a size 8 — comes courtesy of a robustly policed diet and many hours with not one but three personal trainers, not to mention an army of other staff who help maintain the impressive Hoppen sheen (she has her own hairdresser, a make-up artist for special occasions and even someone to do her spray tan).
To her credit, she’s more than happy to admit to it, which is refreshingly honest: ‘I don’t have secrets,’ she says airily. ‘I wasn’t born with this body — I’ve made this body and it’s got better the older I’ve got, which is partly the reason I posted that picture. Age has got nothing to do with it. If you put the work in, you get results. That applies to anything in life.’
Hoppen is certainly a walking testament to the powers of self-determination. The South African-born designer (she came to the UK aged two) started working at 16 — her first job was overseeing a new kitchen of a family friend — and from there built a multi-million-pound design empire on the back of her East-meets-West signature neutral palette.
That palette is in ample evidence today at her stunning West London home, a vast converted former auction house swathed in blacks, whites and grey that is all towering ceiling pendants, black and white wall prints and velvet cushions nestling on enormous sofas.
With her tumbling pre-Raphaelite curls and all-over caramel tan Kelly is more glam-ma than grandma, as is made plain courtesy of her recent Instagram post which revealed her sylph-like form in all its splendour on a Caribbean wellbeing retreat
Kelly is clad in a camouflage green jumpsuit, her tiny waist cinched with a Louis Vuitton belt. We meet at 10am by which time she has been up for hours — she rises at 6am every day — and has already done an hour-long workout in her private gym with her personal trainer and sent a flurry of emails to her international teams (she has 48 design projects on the go around the world).
It’s a template she follows most days: a 6am start, followed by a session with one of her trainers. There’s Efua for body sculpting — she does 90 minutes twice a week with her; Peter for more sculpting; then a weekly hour with Sadie Frost’s sister Holly, who oversees a stretching and toning session.
‘The art of working out is not going to the gym and sweating: it’s about visualising the actual muscle that you’re working. There’s an art in it. In the same way as I look at a room and I visualise how it’s going to work, she’ll look at my body and figure out what it is that she has to do.’
It helps, of course, if you have a personal trainer cracking the whip, although Kelly is not one to brook excuses on that front.
‘You can change things whatever your circumstances, you have that power,’ she insists. ‘Today you can create muscle using bands that cost £5 from Amazon; you don’t have to have a gym, you just need a floor or a park; I don’t think there are any excuses any more.
6am Wake up. Drink of hot water and lemon followed by black coffee
6.30am Work out with trainer for up to an hour and a half.
8am Breakfast: Aubergine fritters with baby spinach, vine roasted cherry tomatoes, free range fried eggs and sweet potato fries (it’s the balance of protein fat and carbs that is important)
8.30am Get ready
9am Go to the studio
1pm Lunch: Rocket pesto Scottish cod, spinach gnocchi, cherry tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and seasonal vegetables
6.30pm Return home
7pm Dinner: Moroccan spiced chicken thighs with Moroccan cauliflower rice butter bean mash and seasonal veg. Water throughout the day
‘Yes, sometimes your work and kids and stuff can take over and then you can’t focus on it, but actually I’ve worked out you could always find an hour, always. There’s always a way.’
Of course there is, in Kelly-land, a rigorously policed zone which is — naturally — gluten-free, dairy-free and red-meat-free. Just like her exercise regime, what Kelly eats is a rigidly controlled affair: a micro-managed 1,500 daily calorie business that is delivered to her door daily in pre-boxed portions.
‘If you’re talking about weight, what you put in your mouth is what your body is like, end of story, isn’t it? So it’s so important to get it right.
‘I use a company that delivers my food every day and I just eat it and it’s done. It’s all formulated for the number of calories for my training and the amount that I work.’
When she goes out, she applies the same formulas to her restaurant menu. ‘I know that I need to have his much protein, this much carbohydrate . . . you kind of figure it out. And it’s something everyone can do. You can look it up online.’
Still, it doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs, although Kelly does at least eat fat, and (whisper it) carbohydrates. This morning she has had two fried eggs for breakfast, albeit with some unappetising-sounding aubergine fritters on the side.
‘All the women in my team are trying to be skinny for summer and they’re all eating protein — you can’t survive on protein alone,’ she says. ‘So, this morning I sent them a screen shot of my food. The amount of fat and carbohydrate in every meal that I have today. They were all freaking out when they saw it.’
What about booze? ‘I don’t really like it. I don’t like the taste of it,’ she says. ‘I hate wine; I hate champagne. If I drink at all I have vodka or tequila and it’s normally straight — but I don’t need it to have fun’.
Which is all very laudable and sensible. Still, just hearing all this makes me want to fall face-first into a massive quattro formaggio pizza.
Does she ever fall off the path of righteousness? ‘Sometimes I’ll have a rice cake in the afternoon, but honestly my diet keeps me full,’ she insists.
Amazingly, it turns out she does let the occasional pizza past her lips — gluten-free, of course. ‘Pizza to me is heaven on a plate. I want to be clear, I don’t deprive myself of anything; if I want toast and peanut butter or a cup of tea with almond milk, I’ll do it, it won’t matter because it reboots your metabolic rate.
‘I’m not judging other people’s choices, people can do what they want. I can only say what works for me. For me this is not a burden, it’s not a cage, it’s a way of life.’
Kelly has, of course, just ‘rebooted’ more dramatically on her twice annual week-long Caribbean retreat, from where she posted that eye-popping photo. A private affair undertaken with trainer Efua, it sounds like a frankly exhausting timetable of 5am starts, rigorous hiking and training with weights.
Kelly has, of course, just ‘rebooted’ more dramatically on her twice annual week-long Caribbean retreat, from where she posted that eye-popping photo
Kelly is in her element. ‘I love it,’ she declares. ‘I could easily have stayed another week.’
As that Instagram photo testifies, she certainly looks good on it. Suspiciously good even: Kelly has amazing skin for someone about to enter her seventh decade. That, surely, can’t be down purely to regular hikes and the sculpting properties of her trainers?
Yes and No is the answer: Kelly eschews Botox and fillers, opting instead for a monthly collagen wave — a skin tightening treatment using radio frequency energy to tighten skin tissue — a monthly deep-cleaning facial and high-tech moisturisers made from her own stem cells (the cells in the body capable of regenerating into new tissue, which are thought to renew the skin when used in a beauty product).
‘Ultimately though it’s what you eat,’ she adds. ‘If I ate chocolates and sweets and crisps all day, my skin would look awful.’
As it is, she thinks she looks better now than she did 20 years ago, when she threw a celebrity-studded party for her 40th birthday with the likes of Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Frost and Fergie on the guest list.
As it is, she thinks she looks better now than she did 20 years ago, when she threw a celebrity-studded party for her 40th birthday with the likes of Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Frost and Fergie on the guest list
‘It was a massive party,’ she says. ‘I was looking at pictures of it the other night and I think I look better now; I was trying too hard then whereas now I’m more natural. I’m more confident now.’
I imagine it helps that she’s happy: in the past Kelly’s personal life has not always been plain sailing. There was an early marriage in her 20s to restaurateur Graham Corrett — they have a daughter, Natasha — then a second 16-year long partnership with banker Ed Miller, via whom she became stepmother to actress Sienna Miller and her sister Savannah. The trio remain close. ‘Savannah wrote me the most beautiful card for Mother’s Day,’ Kelly says. ‘People don’t really understand how close we are, but we worked at it.’
Following her break up with Miller, she had well publicised affairs with footballer Sol Campbell, Jamie Theakston and celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke, something she once dubbed her ‘crazy years’.
All that is in the past though, as for eight years she has been happily settled with businessman John Gardiner, provider of the enormous diamond she sports on her left finger.
While ‘madly in love’, however, it is a commitment ring not an engagement one, and the couple have no plans to marry. ‘We’re happy. Why change anything? There’s no reason; it’s not like we’re having babies.’
One of those has come in to her life instead courtesy of Natasha, who in June 2017 made Hoppen a grandmother when she gave birth to Rudy. And, while it is hard to imagine a toddler climbing over Hoppen’s immaculate soft furnishings, it’s clear she is besotted.
‘It’s the most unexpected love affair of my life,’ she says. ‘Someone asked me why it was such an amazing feeling and all I can put it down to is that I love my daughter so much and now she has a son, so it’s this incredible double love.’
It’s a reminder, again, that this lithe little figure with supermodel hair is a grandparent, although she is irritated by the notion we should be amazed she can look the way she does and have a grandchild. ‘The whole “glam grandma” thing annoys me,’ she says. ‘The old-fashioned image of grandparents is a bit outdated. We are just normal people.’ Normal is all relative, of course: take Kelly’s assertion that her bikini body needs more work.
‘I still don’t think it’s perfect and by the time summer comes my body will have changed again. It will be more defined.’ Impossible though that may be to imagine, it’s hard not to believe her.