Care Home Gives Former Model With Dementia Her Own Photoshoot
In her early twenties, Lesley MacLennan, 85, carved a career for herself as a model in Paris working with iconic designer Yves Saint Laurent when he was still and emerging designer.
She later worked with Saint Laurent while he was at Dior, both on the catwalk and in front of the camera.
Lesley, who is now a resident at the Huntington House in Hindhead, Surrey, was recently spotted by fashion designer James Muller when he was visiting another resident.
The former model told James all about her career and showed him stunning black and white photos from her time in Paris.
James was struck by Lesley's "grace and poise" and her "beautiful hands" and decided he simply had to get her in front of the career once more.
Sixty years after her career began, James arranged hair and makeup for Lesley and a fashion shoot took place.
"I met Lesley in passing and thought how amazing it would be to capture her beauty again," said James, who is based in Farnham, Surrey.
"When I asked her to look my way or turn her face, she did it with such grace - an absolute professional. She was very easy to direct.
"I kept wanting to bring her beautiful hands in to the frame and every time I asked her to, she did so with poise.
"I feel very honoured to have photographed Lesley, she has lived such a colourful life and to be a small part of it is magical. She's an absolute delight."
He added: "At the end of the shoot she held my hand and told me how much she enjoyed working with me.
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"I was truly touched and will never forget that moment. This is something that will stay with me forever, something I'll treasure."
Lesley's carers said "something that motivates" dementia sufferers "can have huge benefits for their wellbeing and state of mind".
Lesley moved to London in her early twenties and after her mother spotted her potential, she made her way to Paris, which is where she encountered the famous designer.
Photos from her youth show a stunning Lesley rocking a dark pixie crop and posing in a number of designer outfits.
And if her new photos are anything to go off, Lesley hasn't lost her modelling touch.
Speaking about her photoshoot with James, Lesley said: "I thoroughly enjoyed the photo shoot. James made me feel perfectly at ease, he was the real McCoy. I would have said so if he wasn't.
"The red and black outfit was so vibrant, it was stunning. I just thought it was a dream."
James added: "Age to me is just a number. During our shoot, Lesley was 'that' model again. Age made no difference.
"I'm sure she has worked with many a top photographer so for me to get the opportunity at her age is simply incredible.
"I think there aren't enough older models out there in the media. In many ways, social media etc. is telling us that it's wrong to age, but it's such a natural thing.
"There is so much beauty in ageing too - we've just been taught to look at it the wrong way."
"I'm all for taking care of yourself but also all for self-acceptance in the bodies we have and ageing," he went on.
Sarah Chapman, a Huntington and Langham Director, said: "Huntington and Langham's ethos is just to promote wellbeing.
"We really want people to have a happier and better life. With these experiences, they can really come out of themselves, and just enjoy the days, just like they were in their 20s and 30s. Age shouldn't matter."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS