Monday 5 December 2016

Model boss Celia Holman Lee prepares to quit after 30 years

Model boss talks about being a workaholic and gives secret to ageing well: a supportive man

Published 08/05/2016 | 02:30

STYLISH: Celia Holman Lee at The Peter Mark VIP Style Awards
this weekend. All photos: Brian McEvoy
STYLISH: Celia Holman Lee at The Peter Mark VIP Style Awards this weekend. All photos: Brian McEvoy

Model boss Celia Holman Lee is to step down from Ireland's longest-running agency for the sake of her health and for her family.

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Ireland's most glamorous model boss told the Sunday Independent that the decision will come "sooner rather than later" after years of working to an extreme extent - to the point of making herself ill.

The 65-year-old was speaking after stealing the show from a room full of young models, beating off stiff competition to win 'Most Stylish on the Night' at this year's annual VIP Style Awards.

But away from the party atmosphere at the Marker Hotel, Celia became emotional as she described how she struggles to take a step back.

Celia Holman Lee with her husband Ger pictured at home in Limerick
Celia Holman Lee with her husband Ger pictured at home in Limerick

"The only thing I have ever done in life to the extreme is work. I've made myself ill from work. I've made myself ill from travelling all over the country and ending up with pneumonia."

She went on: "I don't know why I do it... it wasn't so much that I wanted great wealth. I just wanted happiness. You know, I was married and had my two children and I wanted the best I could do for them…and then you get the house and then you want a better house and then you have grandchildren and you want to do more for them, it's a kind of a thing with me… to be real honest with you… it's kind of a sadness that I am like a Duracell bunny. I seem to keep going and going and going - and there's no point in talking to me.

CONFIDENCE: Celia Holman Lee with Conor McGregor and his partner Dee Devlin, who was named Most Stylish Newcomer
CONFIDENCE: Celia Holman Lee with Conor McGregor and his partner Dee Devlin, who was named Most Stylish Newcomer

"My family tried to ask me to stop, my family tried to say calm down, my family tried to say 'we have it under control' - but I am still sticking in there, pushing myself. I don't know what it is."

Asked what her fear is if she steps back from the business, she said: "I don't know. That's a very good question…. If I had to think about? I'm afraid really of… at 65 I suppose I just want to be still out there."

Celia Holman Lee at the 'Angels For Barnardos' charity fashion show
Celia Holman Lee at the 'Angels For Barnardos' charity fashion show

She later added: "I am frightened that I might just curl up and go away. And I never want to do that. Because I have been working since I was 15 years of age and I have been a model since I was 15 years of age and I have created the longest-running modelling agency in the country [founded over 30 years ago] and at times it's very difficult to say goodbye. And I need to. I know that. For the sake of the family. The family are amazing at what they do." wShe described how, physically, work is getting on top of her: "Really and truly I am finding I am not able to…I can't keep going. I am 65. [It was] such an honour tonight to win what I won… I'm [saying to myself] 'Jesus'… and it's not going to keep happening."

But she says her daughter and daughter-in-law, who are working in the business, are "amazing and incredible" and that she would like to spend more time with her husband Ger: "We need a bit more of a life now so I think it's coming," she said.

Celia Holman Lee at the exclusive launch of ‘Audrey’ a new exhibition at the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons
Celia Holman Lee at the exclusive launch of ‘Audrey’ a new exhibition at the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons

Asked the secret to growing older in style, the 65-year-old, who recently wowed in striking bikini pictures snapped on her holiday on the French Riviera, revealed her mindset is to concentrate on beauty from the inside out:

"If you are my age you have obviously ate from the microwave, which we did, but you can rejuvenate your body, which I have. I eat so healthy now, I try to walk as much as I can, I do a few light weights now and again and the plank but it's all about the posture. Mind your posture," she said.

Celia Holman Lee in a bikini on holiday in St Tropez. Picture: Ger/Celia Holman Lee
Celia Holman Lee in a bikini on holiday in St Tropez. Picture: Ger/Celia Holman Lee

Asked about cosmetic procedures and surgery, the Limerick beauty said: "Never never have I had any work done. If I did, I am sure to God someone would ring you and tell you."

Asked the reason behind her decision she said: "Because I am very happy in my family. My husband thinks there is nobody like me. I didn't feel the pressure."

She continued: "I'll tell you why [ageing] hasn't got me down. I think in this situation it's all about support. As a woman gets older, the last thing she needs is an ass of a husband telling her you could look better in another outfit... you need, as you get older, the love of your family. That you feel that you are still beautiful. And I have felt that from my family."

She explained: "You need people around you who give you confidence and love you. There's no point in having someone around you who is knocking you. Or beating you down. It's about who is around you making you feel good. They don't need to be telling you you're beautiful all the time, they just need to be on your side."

Speaking about her own experience, she said: "I can see myself ageing a lot more after 65 and, you know, the confidence...you have got to dig deep and look at what you have rather than this exterior feckin' face that you put out to the public... It's all about attitude."

Dressed in a floor-length black gown by Tipperary designer Marian Murphy, accessories by Azure Jewellery and sapphire blue shoes, she received an embrace from boxing champ Conor McGregor and earned the nickname 'Benjamin Button' from RTE presenter Kathryn Thomas for her ever-youthful looks.

Also at the event, McGregor caused a frenzy as the last guest to arrive on the red carpet, where he was supporting girlfriend Dee Devlin, who picked up the award for Most Stylish Newcomer.

McGregor ate his dinner flanked by two burly security guards, named Rocky and Drogo, while watching other guests pick up their awards.

Fashion blogger and model Vogue Williams won Most Stylish Woman award, while Rosie Connolly of Hearts, Heels and Handbags blog became the first ever winner of new category Most Stylish Online Influencer.

On the men's side, Eurovision hopeful Nicky Byrne nabbed the Most Stylish Man award; however, he is in Stockholm and sent his best wishes.

Sunday Independent

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