Former Miss Ireland Olivia Treacy on ageing gracefully, mature modelling and LA life
THE blonde may be gone, but the sleek, silver hair has come to be a niche and a selling point.
It’s close to 30 years since Olivia Treacy was crowned Miss Ireland and the Los Angeles based 53-year-old is as busy as ever.
With enviable curves and an attitude to match, Treacy has been turning heads since she first took to the catwalk at the eager age of 22, wearing nothing but a swimsuit in the plush window of Switzers, on Dublin’s Grafton Street.
Decades later, the former beauty queen is now savouring a largely untapped market, the ‘baby boomers’ generation.
“When I left my hair go the natural ‘silver platinum’ colour, I discovered there was a whole new level there for me,” she says.
“I joined Ford modelling agency in my mid 40s and from then I just fitted into a new category for them. It makes life exciting again, a shift into another arena.”
Getting older, Treacy thought modelling would take a back seat in her life, but it quickly became apparent that time is no match for this beauty.
She has several agents, all over the US, and is eying up currently representation in Spain and Germany, with plenty of interest to step out in European labels in 2014.
Treacy grew up in Terenure, Co Dublin.
Before setting her sights on the runway, she completed a higher diploma in education.
It was not until she finished college that she signed with Geraldine Brand’s model agency, and less than a week later was earning a living.
“It was such a contrast to having my head in the books I felt it was my time to have fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
But winning Miss Ireland sent everything soaring.
“I won it when I was 24 and I was catapulted into the spotlight, it was very exciting and fabulous for my career,” she says.
“It launched me into television too and opened up a whole new chapter for me professionally.
“I will always look back on that time with nothing but the happiest of memories, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.”
Then, in search of greener pastures, Treacy upped sticks and moved to LA in 1997; and it’s fair to say that the town has treated this Irish lassie well.
She lives off the side of the Hollywood Hills and can see the town’s famous sign from her garden.
She works out five times a week in the sunshine and takes a regular dip in the resident swimming pool.
Not bad at all.
“Los Angeles definitely promotes a healthy lifestyle,” she says.
“A lot of that is to do with the weather - everyone has this idea that you’re in a bikini all year round – it is not always the case, but it is a very outdoor kind of place. People do yoga and hike a lot.”
While it’s less Barry’s tea and more kale smoothies on the menu these days, Treacy has settled into a community of Irish Diaspora.
“I have a lot of Irish friends in LA and I tend to go to Irish pubs on a regular basis. There’s something very comforting about the atmosphere in an Irish pub and it’s only when you live abroad that you embrace places like that; places you’d rarely visit if you were at home or on holidays.”
This year, for the first time since she moved overseas, Treacy spent more time in her childhood country than at her adopted address.
“My mother Maura, who’s 93, had a hip replacement so I was here for five months looking after her.
“I had a change of heart about Ireland this year - I really got back into the swing of everything.
“Everyone is so down to earth and there’s always genuine friendliness in Ireland.”
Such was her enjoyment at walking up the likes of Grafton Street again that she almost found it difficult to return to the sunshine state of California last August.
And perhaps it triggered a return of Miss Ireland 1984 in the not too distant future.
“I’m at that stage in life that my priorities are changing, I’m appreciating simple things and when you come home, you realise how much you miss that.”