By Hayley Parr
For a busy world-renowned model, actress, entrepreneur, Cambridge graduate and style icon Lily Cole looked remarkably cool relaxing in the GCU Student Association Bistro this morning.
Wearing a knit cardigan and maxi skirt the 25-year-old red-head, who pointed out her voluminous hair style today due to the rainy Glasgow weather, was effortlessly cool and natural as she chatted to The Edit about the launch of her social media platform impossible.com, strange beauty tips, and her many different roles in society.
It was a change of scenery for Cole who is no stranger to designer photo shoots for the likes of Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs, worldwide fashion runways and elite parties but she looked more than happy to be chatting over a glass of water to students (how non-high maintenance!) after all she was one just a few years ago herself.
Cole was recently awarded a Doctor of Letters for her “outstanding contribution to humanitarian and environmental causes” from the chancellor of GCU Muhammad Yunus who was also a key advisor on her new social media platform soon to launch in Scotland here at GCU.
Backed by founder of the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia and ‘go to’ for all us students, Jimmy Wales was also a member of the impossible.com team that looks to encourage people to offer services and skills for free in an attempt to create a generous environment that does not involve money.
Driven by the idea that today’s suffering economy focuses on money and not the free services it can offer, impossible.com is an online notice board for members to post wishes, to answer to people’s wishes and to thank people for granting their wishes.
“I really wanted to experience the gift of economy and action. There is no money, no advertising and it is solely based on giving,” Cole said.
“We have forgotten that human activity does not need to surround that, some of it can, but it doesn’t have to be the be all and end all of how we organise ourselves,” she added.
Inspired by the fast way social media changed the lives of millions of people and the possibilities it has to grow Cole said: “The idea came from the air and once I thought of it, it was like a virus I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
“I study politics and philosophy so I suppose there is a background but what I have created is an online notice board.
“I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think people were naturally generous. For me the best parts of my life have come from generosity my relationships, when random strangers help me and in environments where you see random acts of kindness.
“I know there is so much potential in people giving for free but I know it is under utilised. I grew up in London living and working in industries, which were very industry orientated, and I feel that commerce and money has become so dominant in today’s world.”
Originally from Devon, Cole was booked for her first British Vogue cover at the age of 16. Once establishing a successful career in modelling Cole who describes her as very academically focused studied Art History at Cambridge University, graduating in 2011 with a double first.
Since then there has been no gap-year for this graduate as she dived into the world of business being patron of The Ethical Justice Foundation, co-founding ethical knitwear line The North Circular and creating impossible.com.
Focused on creating a consumer – brand relationship Cole has travelled and worked with charities and companies to reveal stories behind clothes and products.
She said: “I think if people knew the real stories behind the clothes they could decide what they want to support. I feel that people are naturally empathetic however things are quite invisible, the many products we buy we don’t know the stories behind therefore have no emotional connections about the environment they are from and the people involved in the production.
“My knitwear company North Circular has the knitter’s name on the good and we are soon to launch a new initiative where consumers can connect with the knitter and people involved in the production.”
While managing studies, business, modelling and being the face of huge campaigns such as WaterAid and Global Angels Cole still has time to look naturally healthy and beautiful.
Therefore it was only natural to ask her for some beauty tips because an interview with a successful model without this question would just be a crime.
When asked, Dr Cole (as she can now be titled as) doesn’t speak of a cream with gold flakes that none of us students have heard of or can’t afford but of natural products that are both eco-friendly and inexpensive.
Cole said: “I have recently tried to have less. I suddenly was like why do I need all this stuff!
“I like old-fashioned techniques. As a kid I used to put avocado on my face and walk around balancing chunks of it on my face. I love all these ways where you can make natural concoctions from supermarket stuff.
“I use The Body Shop products- because they are one of the most transparent companies in the world, which relates to my passion for consumer brand relationship, they are excellent and fairly priced.”
Before you all rush down to Sauchiehall Street and clear the shelves of The Body Shop and snap up all the avocados in sight The Edit asked Cole about her confidence in performing her different roles.
Stunning fashionistas at London Fashion Week on Sunday, Cole opened the Vivienne Westwood show with a solo dance in silence which was a metaphor of her climate change concerns- is there anything she can’t do?!
Commenting on the performance Cole said: “I like to face things that I’m scared of. I don’t like to walk away which so far has been ok but some day I might think it is a stupid philosophy!”