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Ping Sie and Steve at Platinum Angels Management, a modeling agency in Singapore for senior models, founded by Béatrice Andre-Basse, Pat Kraal and Brandon Barker.

(L) Ping Sie and (R) Steve Kiang are newly recruited talents at Platinum Angels Management, a modeling agency in Singapore that only represents talents aged 50 and over. Collage: VICE / Images: Platinum Angels Management

Ping Sie, 58, had never been a model before, having spent her career working in the family business. A strong believer in keeping things natural, Ping Sie has been makeup-free for almost 20 years and hasn’t changed her hairstyle since high school. She also never expected to pose for a major fashion magazine one day.

“It was an experience I will never forget, at 58 [years old]doing it for the first time,” she told VICE of the experience, adding that age meant nothing to her.

“As for our ability to do things, it doesn’t really matter. For me, it’s just that we have more wrinkles doing it than others. That’s all.”

Ping Sie is represented by Platinum Angels Management Agency (PAM), a Singapore-based modeling company with talent aged 50+. Founded in September 2019, it is billed as the first modeling agency in Asia to exclusively represent senior models.

“The company’s DNA is diversity and inclusion,” co-founder Béatrice André-Basse said in a video call from her office.

After modeling as a teenager before embarking on a career in banking, she moved to Asia from France in 2017 to return to modeling in her mid-50s. But she quickly realized that there was a serious lack of models in her age group.

“I realized that I was the only one with gray hair,” André-Basse said. “I was surprised to be alone because in Europe and in Russia, there are very big agencies [with departments] specializing in senior models.

It was in this context that PAM emerged, under the leadership of André-Basse and two other ex-models who are now looking to revitalize the industry with a group of passionate talents, many of whom sport salt-and-pepper hair.

They are not usually associated with the manicured faces of the fashion industry – dominated by fresh, young talent – but they are convinced that they are part of a growing market for senior models.

Around the world, seniors are increasingly turning to activities usually considered to be for the young and daring, like strutting the catwalks and becoming YouTube stars. In Singapore, some senior models are already tackling fashion, literally, granny chic.

“We want to support the senior population so that they feel better and are still in the community,” said André-Basse. “We want to change the world.

As well as responding to a growing silver economy, which sees older models employed in campaigns aimed at older consumers, PAM also intends to engage its models in fashion campaigns that challenge conventional ideas of fashion aesthetics. That’s why there are hardly any physical requirements to join the modeling agency – as long as you are at least 50 years old, your height, weight and appearance don’t matter. In fact, André-Basse pointed out, they want to see “real people” instead of “beautiful creatures.”

“I don’t want people to think we’re looking for very, very beautiful old people. Of course, we are looking for them too, but we are looking for older people who want to show what they have in them. We want them to shine,” she said.

The lifespan of a modeling career is traditionally short.

“Today, they start very young. I would say once you’re in your early 30s, it’s time to hang up your high heels,” said Pat Kraal, 59, managing director of PAM. She was a top model in Singapore, having walked the catwalks of fashion houses such as Givenchy and Christian Dior in Paris in the 1980s before retiring to raise four children. Decades after beginning her modeling career, she now finds herself back in the game, standing on a new frontier and helping bring senior faces into the notoriously exclusive industry.

Kraal recalls broaching the idea of ​​a senior modeling agency to his friends, many of whom were models themselves.

“Ninety percent of them were like, ‘Whoa, let’s do this. It would be so much fun, just like the good old days,” she said. “There were a handful saying, ‘Oh no, I’ve gained weight, wrinkles, I don’t look like I used to.’ And we were like, ‘No, but that’s what we’re looking for.’ »

“None of us are the same. We don’t wear the same size clothes we did when we were 20. Of course, we’re all gaining weight…so we’re here to help them feel good about themselves.

Many of PAM’s talents are former models, in the conventional sense of the word, such as Ping Sie’s husband, Steve Kiang, who was a model in the ’80s but hasn’t been in the industry for decades. The 64-year-old discovered PAM through Brandon Barker, the company’s co-founder and an old friend.

“It was pretty exciting because I hadn’t done that in so long, and I just felt that since we’re almost retired, it would be fun to have something to do on the side,” Kiang said. “We all know how many years we have left in our lives, especially in our 60s. And so, despite good health, life is short. So our mantra is always: as long as we can do it, let’s do it. .”

“Our mantra is always: as long as we can do it, let’s do it.”

Age is often associated with wisdom, but older people also find themselves marginalized, seen as not having the same mental or physical abilities as younger people. In Japan, lonely deaths afflict the elderly, many of whom live alone with limited social life – when they suffer accidents at home, their death often goes undetected until someone leaves to their research. In Singapore, aging is still somewhat stigmatized and prevailing perceptions of what older people can or cannot do remain narrow. With twenty talents and more, PAM hopes to continue to develop its philosophy of aging with liveliness and beauty.

“[People] approached us and said things like, ‘I always wanted to be a model when I was younger,'” Kraal said, adding that most have pushed away that dream of taking care of their children. “And now , most of them have adult children, they are free, they are probably retired and they want to start modeling and fulfill their dream.

Along with showing the rest of society that seniors are models too, the modeling agency believes it also helps senior models gain confidence in their aging journey.

“The other side is that the models are comfortable enough in their bodies, in their lives, to face new challenges because they are getting older,” André-Basse said. “The whole message is that we don’t want to be forgotten. We want to be part of life. We always want to show that we are there.

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