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My life in the limelight

My life in the limelight

Catch a glimpse into the extraordinary life of Howick’s Gwenythe Seymour

Not many people have memories of walking the catwalk in some of the fashion capitals of the world. Howick’s Gwenythe Seymour can think back to a time when she headlined as a model in London, Toronto and New York. This Durban-born model lived the high life and has much to share about her interesting life.
When she finished high school, she met a photographer who changed the course of her life forever. “I was walking down the street one day when a photographer who was on the lookout for a model for a national soap advert spotted me and asked if I would be interested. Well, of course I agreed!”

Soon her career blossomed and the jobs for a fashion and photographic model poured in. She became so sought after that she got opportunities to model internationally. “I married my high school sweetheart when I was 24 years old and he was very supportive of my career. After we married, my work took us to London, where our first daughter, Frances, was born. My modelling career lifted off, being house model for Sylvia Mills, Fashion Group of London.
Then it was off to North America to settle in Toronto, Canada. Back then, television had just started to come into the spotlight and celebrities were popping up everywhere. We both got to meet these up-and-coming movie and television stars. We almost became something like celebrities ourselves, attending high-profile events and moving in the right social circles.”
One of her fondest memories is meeting Nat King Cole. “I stood in the wings watching his show with his young daughter, Natalie. I remember him performing on stage.”
Gwenythe was signed up with numerous modelling agencies. For one of these agencies, she acted as a Jackie Kennedy lookalike. “I was often booked to impersonate Jackie. It was such an experience; that world is so different to what people might think it is.”
They settled in Toronto for just over five years. “I did a lot of shows in New York, and Toronto was a perfect home for us, as I could hop on the plane and be in New York in under two hours. My son, Greg, was born while we were in Toronto. I will never forget, it was New Year’s Eve and very cold. That night, there was a particularly bad snow storm and emergency services had to escort us to the hospital with special chains strapped to the tyres.”

Gwenythe explains that back in those days, there was no rivalry between the models she worked with. “There was no competition between the models. They were all married to professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers, CEO’s and so on. Because of this, none of us had to depend on modelling to make a living; it was something we enjoyed doing, so there was no reason for animosity between us.”
She remembers getting more work than she could manage. “The modelling agencies I was signed up to had so many jobs for me, eventually I could choose what jobs I wanted to do at what price.”
That changed when they decided to return to South Africa, for a visit. “It was supposed to be a three-month visit to introduce our children to their grandparents. It was a very bad time for me to return to South Africa, as I was at the pinnacle of my modelling career. But I continued modelling in SA and my daughter Samantha was born here.”
She eventually stepped down from the catwalk and opened a male modelling agency. “Back then there weren’t many modelling agencies in the country, much less a male modelling agency. The company eventually turned into a promotional agency and finally a modelling school.”

As her life was changing, so she changed as well. “I got more involved with image consulting and then confidence speaking. At the end, I started doing non-verbal visual communication (body language), which is about colour coding, and choosing a colour that suits you. Body shape and what the right look is for your body shape, and this included men in the corporate world as well.”
A year ago, this model decided that she had had enough of the hotels, venues, bookings and air travel. “I want to kick back, look at retiring and enjoy life.”
It didn’t take her long to decide where she would settle. “My mom grew up in the Howick area, so I thought… why not settle there?”
She is very happy with her decision to move to Howick. “This is my forever home now, I love it here! I’ve met so many wonderful, helpful and friendly people, and enjoyed the opportunity to help Lorraine Stone to market her picturesque Cafe la Rose in Howick. Gwenythe says, “Since I have some spare time now, I have really come to enjoy sewing and even have my own line called Simply Casual. The focus of this line is comfort, and it’s for anyone who wants to feel comfortable.”
Her goal now is to refocus her attention on enjoying life. “I always have so many projects running at the same time. For now, I just want to slow down and be happy. Just me and my Teacup Poodle.”


Northern KZN & Midlands Get It November 2018

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