All Eyes On Gillean McLeod

Gillean has been on my radar for quite some time now — even well before Bleu launched. The 60-something wardrobe stylist turned working model (who will proudly tell you she’s 63 any day of the week) has been setting flame to the historically narrow social constructs of what modeling “should be” in favor of leaving fresh, reimagined, raw talent in its place. If Gillean looks familiar, it’s likely because you’ve seen her commanding entire campaigns and runways for household names like Kosas Cosmetics, Rachel Comey, and Jesse Kamm, just to name a few. She embodies an effortless and highly coveted combination of both poise and natural beauty, and is everything that Bleu stands for and more. Today all eyes are on Gillean McLeod, who I had the immense pleasure of catching while on one of her recent trips to Scotland. Let her serve as an example to us all: reinvention is a state of mind, and if the trajectory you’re on isn’t fully serving you, it’s never too late to change directions. Who knows what may exist just on the other side of an unopened door. Let’s get into the interview…

Instagram handle@gilleanmcleod

Location:  Los Angeles; currently in Scotland.

Originally from:  Indonesia, raised there and Scotland.

Occupation:  Wardrobe stylist and model.

Tell us a bit about yourself.  “After leaving London in my early 20s, I moved to L.A., my home for nearly forty years. Modeling started in my fifties after 20 years of working as a stylist. I also have one son, Max.”

Favorite thing about living in Los Angeles?  “My favorite thing about living in L.A. is the diversity. Food comes in at a close second, and traffic comes last! In just over an hour, I can be out on the road to the desert or mountains, or spend the day at the beach. It’s a beautiful city.”

Signature look / uniform?  “Having grown up in boarding schools where uniforms were required, my go-to look is suspiciously similar. My wardrobe consists of a lot of Comme De Garçons — uniform-like with added flair.”

Favorite designers?  “I have a lot of favorite designers: Comme Des Garçons, Dries van Noten, Margiela, and Rick Owens to name a few. Basically, I like clothing which is well-made with a bit of an edge.”

Favorite local shop?  “Two local shops in particular, Noodle Stories and Opening Ceremony.”

Currently reading?  “The last book I read was about the Osage Native Americans. It was sobering and illuminating. Having grown up overseas, a lot of American history was unknown to me. The greed and cruelty of our ancestors is beyond belief.”

What’s on your want list?  “I’d love to have a Rick Owens cashmere coat. And, some new Comme dresses.”

Coffee or tea? How do you take it?  “I love my morning cup of coffee. I use a little steamed milk, add a teaspoon of MCT oil and a spoonful of collagen powder. And, it’s tasty when on the stronger side!”

Favorite local cafe and menu item of choice?  “My favorite local stop is Kitchen Mouse in Highland Park. I often meet my friend Marnie at 8 a.m. for breakfast. We always have the same thing: the Morning Glory Bowl with an almond latte. It consists of kale, farro, avocado, one egg over medium, peppers, and lemon grass. It’s fantastic!”

Go-to dinner party recipe?  “I’m not the greatest cook, however, a great friend of mine has written several cook books, one of which I use for dinner recipes — Jeanne Thiel Kelley, Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes. There’s a recipe for Tamarind Ribs, which I serve with rice and a black bean dish. It’s always a great hit, and somehow it always turns out exactly as the picture, which makes me look like a pro!”

What’s always in your fridge?  “Salad fixings, Manchego cheese, Tamarind paste, butter, and eggs.”

Fave quick snack?  “Avocado toast with a slice of raw onion.”

Tell us about what you do!  “I now divide my time between modeling and styling. I love both professions. After so many years of styling, one would think I’d be bored, but no. I approach every job as though it was my first, as a treasure hunt. It’s such fun to be part of a collaborative team and work on set, everyone with the same goal: to make a great image.”

Favorite project to date?  “My favorite modeling project to date is a campaign for Oliver Peoples. That resulted in a billboard in Times Square — so wonderful! My favorite wardrobe styling job was for LA Magazine. It was a fashion story about a doll’s house. Great sets were built, wonderful designer clothing shipped in, and fun final images.”

What’s your sign?  “Aries.”

What are your hobbies?  “I love visiting photographic / art exhibitions. I just saw the Cindy Sherman show at the National Portrait Gallery in London. I also love to swim, hike in our local mountains, and hang with friends.”

Favorite Netflix series?  “There are so many Netflix shows! For a time, I was hooked on mysteries.”

Any words on aging / ageism?  “There’s nothing really to say about aging. We are what we are, but health is the most important thing. People spend an inordinate amount of time fussing about looking younger — radically altering their appearances, buying expensive products which claim anti-aging properties. The reality is we get older by the day. I purposely do not buy any products which use the words anti-aging.”

What do women have to look forward to as they approach their 50s?  “Going into my fifties was liberating in so many ways. Apart from the hormonal changes, which can be disruptive, I finally felt as though I knew who I was and what I wanted from life. The children are grown and out of the house, it’s brilliant.”

Favorite place in the world to visit / travel to and why?  “I love South East Asia — Indonesia and Malaysia, specifically. I grew up there, and there are still lots of islands and places to explore. The food, weather, and people are all so lovely.”

Morning rituals / routine?  “Coffee, then a walk or a class of some sort. A Pilates mat class or a train session with a few other girls. We do HIIT interval sessions, and whew it’s hard!”

Evening rituals / routine?  “If I didn’t get a walk in the morning, then I’ll hike across my hill. It’s a four-mile round trip. I don’t take music or distractions. I like to think and enjoy the views.”

Guilty pleasure / necessary indulgence?  “Dark chocolate.”

Night in or night out? How do you spend it?  “Both! For a night out, I’ll do dinners with friends, maybe a show at the Hollywood Bowl. And, for a night in, it’s very chill — a small supper early, a book or a movie.”

You have a free day all to yourself. What do you do with it?  “On a totally free day, I make plans with a friend to catch up or go see something of interest, or I’ll be in my garden.”

What’s on the horizon for you?  “The great thing about my life now is I really don’t know what I’m doing from one day to the next! It keeps me on my toes.”

Written by: Tiana Gidley

Tiana Gidley is a 20-something Contributing Editor at The Bleu. She binge-watches reality TV on Bravo, throws a mean murder mystery party, and makes her bed every morning.

1 Comment

  1. Michelle

    October 10, 2019 at 10:39 am

    I love seeing older women being praised for their vibrant lives and natural beauty. I wish this were also true for women in our 30’s and 40’s. I’ve been noticing an invisibility of “middle age” when it comes to women. We’re expected to look like 20 year olds basically until we can’t hide it anymore. Can you guys show us women somewhere in the middle who embrace the signs of aging at 30 and 40? I know it’s not really fashionable but it’s important.


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