How Helen ages beautifully: Astonishingly, she really began to blossom at 56. Here AMANDA PLATELL reveals how she does it
By Amanda Platell
PUBLISHED: 19:11 EST, 18 November 2013 | UPDATED: 19:41 EST, 18 November 2013
Seeing the magnificently sexy Helen Mirren smiling on the Mailís front page yesterday, I scanned the article for her age. Sheís 68 and looks like that! How does she do it?
Sheís not just another actress whoís had more lifts than a JCB digger. Helenís beauty and sexuality are more than skin deep. In fact, when you look at pictures of her over the decades, the astonishing truth is that she gets better with age.
The turning point appears to have come in 2001, when she was photographed on the red carpet aged 56, looking like any other frumpy, middle-aged woman squeezed into an unflattering dress.
The bad old days: At Cannes in 1997, left, Helen just looks a mess in an oversized blazer and mismatched skirt. Itís 1999, right, and Helenís beaded Badgley Mischka gown is far too long and drowns her
Compare it with photographs this week and it is clear she has become far more attractive and stylish, a fact that surely gives hope to all women of a certain age.
Having just turned 56, Iím certainly cheered by evidence of her transformation ó proof that women no longer become invisible and undesirable at 40. The mid-50s is the new mid-life renaissance and Helen is our poster girl.
This black fishtail gown, worn in 2001, made Helen look like Morticia Addams
Like her, Iíve never been conventionally good looking. The best Iíve managed is to be called Ďtall, dark and handsomeí, but Iím more comfortable with that now than Iíve ever been.
So how does Helen do it? As a woman who also feels she has blossomed in her sixth decade, I can hazard a guess.
First, sheís happy. Nothing makes a woman more attractive and alluring than a beautiful smile, as well as the lines that go with it, which map out the decades sheís spent enjoying herself.
Funnily enough, the same can be said of Camilla. When the 66-year-old Duchess of Cornwall turned up at the Commonwealth heads of state gala dinner last week, she looked far lovelier than 20 years ago.
Why? Because sheís happy. The bee venom facials and trips to wacky Indian health retreats no doubt help, but itís a beauty that comes from within and is born of contentment.
Being happy in your relationship takes a decade off any woman. (You only need to take a look at Vicky Pryce, former wife of Lib Dem jailbird Chris Huhne, to see how ageing matrimonial misery is.) Helen has been happily settled with American director Taylor Hackford since 1986, and it shows.
Closely examining the Dame, itís clear sheís had a little polishing, especially on that wonderful cleavage, which is remarkably smooth and blemish-free.
But why not? As someone who has tried several non-surgical cosmetic procedures in my quest to look, if not younger, then at least my best, Iím not one to criticise.
No one wants a dried out old riverbed for a bosom, especially when itís one of her best features ó and itís one Helen never fails to show off.
She has subtle lines on her neck, though it doesnít look like it belongs to a turkey, a result that could have been achieved with laser treatment.
And the smile lines around her full lips are still there for all to see, as are the crinkles around her sparkling eyes.
Her hair is cut to a flattering length, which lifts her face beautifully, and that shade of ash blonde suits the skin tones of an older woman.
She claims she cuts her hair herself and dyes it at home. I find it hard to believe that ó a good salon haircut is key to looking polished in your 50s and 60s.
The longest relationship Iíve had, indeed, has been with my hairdresser ó ten years and counting.
Iíve been similarly constant with my wardrobe, quickly working out that slinky pencil skirts, dresses and high heels show off my figure to its best advantage.
While Helen was more experimental with fashion in her 30s and 40s, she now knows what suits her: tailored elegance. Though underneath those designer gowns is a remarkable figure: who can forget those pictures of her in a red bikini in 2008?
Aged 56 in 2002, left, Helen shimmers on the red carpet in Ivory Armani ó shame about her bingo wings. In 2005,right, she now keeps her arms under wraps, and flashes the right amount of cleavage
At the 2006 Emmys, left, her hair is a new flattering shade of platinum. Blue heaven in 2006, right, in a midnight Eavis & Brown frock
Helen has clearly learned that, as you get older, you have to get wiser when it comes to clothes. Turning up in a Nancy DellíOlio- style sparkly red Elvis catsuit post-50 is a definite no-no.
But thanks to wonderful designers who cut clothes with real women in mind, such as my favourites Amanda Wakeley and Vivienne Westwood, you can be glamorous without looking as though youíre chasing your lost youth. It also helps that Helenís not skinny ó a healthy size 14 to my eye.
For being thin makes you look old ó something I learned to my surprise after my last long-term relationship ended and I dropped two stone and three dress sizes.
Blooming in a floral print Christian Lacroix gown with lace sleeves in 2007, left, and Red clutch and lipstick accessorise this sleek, sparkly suit in 2007, right
Once I got back to my normal size 12, friends confessed I had looked terrible. The weight comes off your face and breasts first, making you look haggard, however delirious you feel at being able to slip into skinny jeans.
Helen admits to loathing exercise but, rather than dieting, she subjects herself to a gruelling Royal Canadian Air Force regime thatís over in 15 minutes.
Like Helen, Iíve realised that exercise is key to staying looking good over 50. I go to the gym three times a week and notice a massive difference if I miss a few sessions.
Helen oozes 2008 Oscars glamour in a ruby Georges Chakra gown, left, and in 2009, right, and a cream Donna Karan clings in all the right places
Helen is the picture of elegance in teal Elie Saab this year
When I was unwell last year, I had to take nine months off all exercise and it was terribly depressing to watch all my hard-won muscle tone dissolve into flab.
Perhaps most interestingly, Helen has never smoked and hardly drinks, a lesson to all women like me who take refuge or relaxation in a bottle of chablis.
Many people say stress is the great ager, but I donít agree. Sadness is.
Good stress comes with loving your job and being excited by it, as Iíve always been with mine, whatever its incarnations. Bad stress comes with boredom, disappointment and waking up at 50 feeling as though youíve wasted your life ó and itís too late to do anything about it.
Clearly, Helen Mirren has packed as much personal and professional happiness and satisfaction into her 68 years as itís possible to do.
Apart from one thing: children. Model Marie Helvin once claimed that having children was the most ageing thing a woman could do.
While that sounds an unbelievably callous thing to say, you have only to look at the difference between childless Marie and her contemporary Jerry Hall, a mother of four. But then, Jerry did have Mick Jagger to contend with for all those years.
Helen does not have children, by choice, claiming she doesnít have a maternal bone in her body. Perhaps this has helped her battle the wrinkles. But what mother would swap the blessing of children for fewer lines on her face? Given the chance, I certainly wouldnít have.
So, forget the myths that women are past it at 50. Helen Mirren is living proof that even if she wins awards playing the Queen, she turns up on the red carpet looking like a princess.
Helen Mirren began to blossom at 56: AMANDA PLATELL reveals how she ages beautifully | Mail Online