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For more than 15 years, Rebecca Valentine has spent her days looking young men and women up and down, gauging their looks and charisma in order to book them for modeling jobs – commercials, photo shoots, ad campaigns, jobs. .

Five years ago, Valentine’s mind wandered to a set of perhaps new and refreshingly mature personalities, and it was then that she began to notice an untapped market for talents.

Gray Model Agency Instagram

“As a photography agent, I ran an extras agency primarily as a resource for my photographers, so we had a bank of ‘ordinary people’ on a database,” Valentine said. Microphone. “During this period I noticed that older models were booked more frequently than anyone else, which I suspect was due to supply and demand.”

This demand for older models was part of a developing trend, Valentine said. By early 2015, buyers had begun making “stronger demands for true representation and the use of models that looked like them”.

So in June, after researching and “realizing that there were no modeling agencies specializing in mature male and female models in fashion, advertising and editorial”, she launched Gray Model Agency, specializing in models aged 35 and over.

gray model agency

A thirst for faces of all ages: Think of the recent campaigns that shook the Internet: Joan Didion for Céline. Expensive for Marc Jacobs. Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent. Models have drawn everyone’s attention to how remarkably glamorous these women look – no less than any Jenner or Hadid – but also because it’s simply so rare to see women over 50 years in fashion shows today.

Progress has been slow and has been driven mostly by already famous faces who have proven their popularity, making it a less risky choice. Two others include Jessica Lange, 65, who lent her face to Marc Jacobs Beauty in 2014, and Catherine Deneuve, 71, who landed Louis Vuitton in 2013. But we’ve even seen some standout examples of “regulars.” “models, like Jacky O’Shaughnessy, who posed for American Apparel in 2014 at age 62.

The enthusiastic responses to these advertisements indicate consumers’ apparent thirst for a more realistic depiction. In the same way that plus-size models have started appearing on more catwalks and advertising campaigns, older male and female models are starting to do the same.

Last September during New York Fashion Week, earthy designer Rachel Comey debuted her spring collection on models of varying ages, upending the “young girls only” norm in favor of a more diverse runway.

Unsurprisingly, the responses were overwhelming. “It’s a smart move for a designer who challenges women to dress outside of the traditional skimpy and flattering box,” noted the editors of Refinery29, writing, “She presented a real-time answer to the common Fashion Week question: ‘But what would that look like on someone who’s not a model?'”

This is another major reason why older patterns flourish: patterns, after all, are there to show us what clothes really look like. And there are a lot of older shoppers buying clothes.

Reflecting the women who actually buy clothes: In early October, plus-size brand Anna Scholz launched an advertising campaign featuring gray model Nicola Griffin, who turned 56 in October and is a size 16. Griffin’s campaign slogan was “My favorite age, c ‘is now”.

It is a positive reinforcer for all ages, but, as Restlessness noted, “arguably rings even truer for women who are repeatedly told their ‘best’ years are behind them.”

“This age group has been completely overlooked by the industry — not just fashion and beauty, but even more so in advertising,” Valentine said in an interview with Anna Scholz on her personal site. “Older generations of women are portrayed either as blue-rinsed old ladies or completely eccentric characters.”

This is a bad reflection of buyers. The decision to include older models, for Valentine, is a good one because the market itself has matured. Recent studies have shown that women over 50 are the biggest consumers and buyers of makeup. They are also spending more on fashion as the amount paid by younger generations decreases.

“It’s nice to see beautiful young people in their twenties modeling everything, but it’s even more interesting to see people your age modeling clothes/beauty products,” Griffin said.

So far it’s a success: That’s why Grey’s models, who Valentine says have been inundated with applicants, are finding work. Models Helen and Annabel took part in London Fashion Week.

According to Valentine, Alex Bruni de Gray is working in Indonesia during Jakarta Fashion Week, where she hopes to change “the taboo of age in fashion as all eyes turn to London and the UK as paving the way for the adoption of grey”.

Meanwhile Grey’s oldest model Frances Dunscombe, 82, will be featured in an ITV documentary about her unlikely rise in the fashion industry, and also appeared at London Fashion Week , where she wore a collection of young Chinese designers and, according to Valentine, adorned “the covers of many Chinese newspapers and magazines as the model du jour”.

Microphone/Instagram

Looking to the future, Valentine only expects more competition. “It would be great if all brands used models that were representative of the market they were targeting and for those brands to recognize that ‘older’ is not a type description,” Valentine said.

As Griffin said Microphone“We want a variety of people selling things. … We don’t want one age group constantly promoting fashion and beauty products. We want all ages to be represented. The Gray Revolution has start !”

For young people who still look back on their gray-haired years, this is also worth encouraging. As we seek anti-aging creams and Botox under 30, any effort to alter perceptions of old age cannot come soon enough.