Inspiring women over 40: Mak Gilchrist’s Edible Bus Stop

Ever wondered what happens to models when they grow up? One of our favourite images from the 80s was of the Premier model Mak Gilchrist as an impossibly glamourous guitarist on the Robert Palmer video for Addicted to Love . She was also the face of Chanel’s Allure perfume (above). She is in her 40s now and still modelling, but spends most of her time on community gardening projects, in particular the Edible Bus Stop, a great idea to try and green up the borough of Lambeth; her mission statement is to ‘Change the world, one bus stop at a time’. She’s keen to raise its profile and recruit helpers from the area, so if anyone’s reading from Lambeth or indeed has their own bit of the urban world they want to green-up then check out the website.

The Edible Bus Stop is proof -if we need any -that gardening s a great community builder and since we’re hearing a lot about building communities, the Big Society (is that about communities? I lose track…) and being more local with everything we do, this strikes us as a great example of how to get it right. The website is full of photos showing the progress of the garden, how much they’ve achieved and how gardening seems to lead to parties and lots of fun.

We also couldn’t resist asking her a few tips on how she’s found ageing (she still looks amazing) and what she does to keep looking good. here’s what she said…

On how she looks good.

I’ve come from a good gene pool. Also I haven’t had children and they are vampires to the elixir of youth. You quite rightly have to give everything to them. I’ve just got a younger husband, someone said to me you are as old as the man you feel and I’ve made sure he’s quite a lot younger than me.

On keeping looking good.

As older women we’ve got more money, more self assurance, but we’re put into this postion where we start thinking am I a bit ‘mutton dressed as lamb?’ You have to redefine yourself. I’m funky and love it but I don’t want to look like an idiot.

It’s a weird wobbly place and I’m still feeling my way, it’s all a bit ad hoc. I went through a two year phase of not buying clothes, I couldn’t find the new woman in me and couldn’t figure out how to be sassy and sexy without trying to be 23.

It’s quite a challenge and I’ve kind of gone a bit outlandish. When I was a teen I was a punk so I’m slightly letting her out again, trying to tap into that energy without trying to be a teen

Style Icons are very difficult…no one really springs to mind…I do like Tilda Swinton, I love the way she looks like she’s dropped in from Mars.

On what clothes she buys

Paul Smith clothes are wearable by us, but I wish he’d put models our age in the campaign, he always shoots very young girls when we are the ones that can afford his clothes.

I’m quite structured with what I wear. My favourite places are the Sunday markets around Spitalfields and Brick Lane, young designers just starting out who have great ideas. I’ll mix that with a little bit of vintage, some All Saints, Zara, depends what’s going on the high street.

On what she’s doing now

At the top of our terraced Victorian street by the bus stop there’s an old bombed out patch of ground which was ‘risk managed’ by the council, someone had started to do a bit of guerilla gardening but mostly it was ignored. Then someone put in a planning application to build on it so we started a campaign to make it a community garden. It’s been a great success, so I’d really like to replicate the idea around our borough. Edible Bus Stops-making bus stops and areas round them, including the roof a bit greener- are just our idea of how we can green up the area and get people promoting communities again.

On our patch, when we got digging, it really got the community together, people donated plants and seeds and came down to help dig. Now we have  vegetables, fruit and a place for everyone to come and hang out. It’s really created community cohesion, I’ve got to know more neighbours in the last three months than in the last 5 years.

Mak’s Edible garden’s website is up and running, so if you’d like to get involved, or want some ideas on how to create a community garden close to you. check it out.

Reggae fans will also be interested to hear that Mak used to own Riz Records, a reggae label and she has agreed to do a top ten playlist for us of her all time favourite reggae tracks, in time for Notting Hill Carnival hopefully…a Desert Island Discs for reggae really. Coming soon.

1 Comment

  • Drat you beat me to it! I worked with Mak when she was a model and was going to blog about this, guess l’ll have to come up with a different angle. Such a good story.

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