Older fashion models uk

Older fashion models uk

Why Britain's next top models are over SIXTY: As retailers chase the grey pound as never before, older women are topping up their pensions with £2,000 modelling jobs

  • Pauline Howard, 69, has appeared in TV adverts and on giant billboards
  • Carmen Dell’Orefice, 83, and Daphne Selfe, 85 are catwalk favourites
  • The High Street has followed the trend, such as Twiggy for M&S
  • Pam Lucas and Kelly-Ann Page, both 65, are in high demand
  • Over-50s account for 40 per cent of all consumer expenditure in Britain

Published: 22:11 BST, 13 July 2014 | Updated: 10:31 BST, 14 July 2014



Think there’s something familiar about Pauline Howard? It’s not surprising. You may have seen her basking in the sunshine on a luxury Egyptian cruise or lounging on a sofa in a furniture showroom.

You may have glimpsed her showcasing designer fashions or even dressed as a lollipop lady, shepherding children across a busy road.

For Pauline is a model, and an extremely successful one. Over the past few years, she’s appeared everywhere from clothing catalogues and TV adverts to giant billboards.

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Picture-perfect: While other women are easing into their retirement, Pauline Howard, 69, is in demand as a model

With her slender but curvaceous figure, blonde hair and picture-perfect smile, it’s easy to see why she is in such high demand. Yet she’s the first to admit she doesn’t fit the typical model mould. She is 69, and at a time of life when many women are content to leave behind their working lives behind and ease into retirement, she’s finally discovered her calling.

And she’s not alone. After decades of being ignored by the fashion and advertising industries, increasing numbers of mature models are  gracing the catwalks and pages of  glossy magazines as marketing companies have woken up to their vast commercial potential.

Models such as Carmen Dell’Orefice, 83, and Daphne Selfe, 85 — both of whom have made a feature of their luxuriant, long, naturally silver hair — are catwalk favourites and have appeared in campaigns for high-end designers including Dolce & Gabbana and Thierry Mugler.

The High Street has followed. When Twiggy, now 64, was hired by Marks & Spencer in 2005, she paved the way for other ladies of a certain vintage, including 62-year-old Jacky O’Shaughnessy, who caused a stir earlier this year when she appeared in an American Apparel lingerie advert.

Women like Pauline, who are 50-plus, trim and attractive — but not intimidatingly beautiful — can earn anything from £200 to thousands of pounds for a couple of days’ work. 

Life of luxury: Pauline's modelling work has included adverts for luxury cruises to Egpyt

In the spotlight: 'When you’re nearly 70 it’s easy to feel invisible, but modelling proves I still have something to offer' says Pauline

‘When you’re nearly 70 it’s easy to feel invisible, but modelling proves I still have something to offer,’ she says.

Pauline, who is from the Wirral, has a son, Simon, 41, and a daughter, Sally, 43. Throughout their childhood, she devoted herself to their care while her husband David worked as a chartered surveyor.

‘I’d done a bit of modelling when I was younger, but I gave it up when I had children,’ she says.

‘In my mid-40s, when the children were grown up, I decided to contact an agent. I wondered if they’d be interested in someone my age. They explained there was a strong market for middle-aged women and started sending me for castings.

‘I went on a fantastic trip to Thailand to shoot a holiday brochure for Saga. I found that as I got older, I was more and more in demand. My husband and children think it’s brilliant because they can see how much I enjoy it.’

Pauline is with the Leeds-based agency Face and does an average of two modelling jobs a month. It allows her to top up her pension — while having plenty of time to visit her children and two grandsons.

She says: ‘I’ve been lucky enough to go on some wonderful cruises, including a luxury one for three weeks on the Red Sea. Sometimes David comes along, too, if they need extra men to appear in the background of the photos.

‘The other day, I was filming an advert for a bed company and had to spend the entire day lying in bed with a man I’d only just met. You can’t do this job if you’re shy.

Beautiful and believable: Pauline enjoys the challenge of fitting into different roles

‘All my friends find it hilarious that I have “modelling husbands” who I’ve worked with several times on jobs that require a couple. 

‘I used to work with a lovely man called Paul, who is 72 and single. People seemed to like the way we looked as a couple and we did everything from sofa adverts to cruises.’

And what did her husband think?

‘Obviously, it was a bit strange for him at first. Paul came round one evening to meet David and asked: “Is it OK for me to take your wife off on this trip?”

‘They’re nothing like one another — David is blond and Paul had jet-black hair that has greyed, and Paul’s very outgoing while David’s much quieter. But they got on well.’

Being a mature model isn’t all glamour, though. Pauline has appeared in adverts for mobility scooters and stairlifts, and recently dressed as a lollipop lady for a road safety campaign.

‘The variety keeps it fun, and the challenge is to be believable whatever the circumstance,’ she says.

‘I don’t mind doing the unglamorous jobs, because I know I’ve been hired because I can appeal to other older women, and I’m proud of that.

‘Modelling at this age isn’t about being gorgeous, though you do need to be able to carry yourself well. I look after myself by eating sensibly and doing a lot of walking.

‘There’s no pressure to be thin, like there is for younger models, but there is a pressure to look good, so I have facials and colour my hair.

‘You want people to look at you and think: “Wow, that woman’s having an incredible time on that cruise,” rather than: “She looks incredibly beautiful.” ’

Her down-to-earth attitude has stood her in good stead in a notoriously cut-throat industry.

‘It’s very competitive, and that’s the side I like the least,’ she says. ‘You see the same faces at all the castings for mature models — it’s a small world. Everyone’s very nice and I haven’t experienced any bitchiness, but we all want the job.

‘I did get upset once when I made the effort to travel to London for a casting, only to be told they didn’t want a blonde, but in general I understand that if I’m not chosen, it’s not personal. Because I’m older I’m better able to cope with the rejections than young girls in  the industry. My attitude is: “I am who I am and if you want me,  that’s wonderful.” ’

Mature models: With older women becoming more interested in fashion and luxuries,  the demand for older models is rising

The fact that the assignments keep flooding in for Pauline and others like her is down to pure economics. Over-50s account for 40 per cent of all consumer expenditure in Britain, says Neil Saunders, of retail analyst Conlumino.

‘There’s a generation of older women who are interested in fashion and luxuries such as cars, holidays and restaurants — and have the money to spend on it,’ he says. ‘Advertisers have had to wake up and provide relevant role models — women  to aspire to.

‘With more and more people in this demographic, I think the number of mature models will increase hugely in the next decade.’

One of those benefiting from this trend is Pam Lucas, 65, from Roehampton, South London. At 5ft 10in and a slender size eight to ten, with stunning long silver hair, she has found herself in vogue. 

In vogue: Pam Lucas, 65, has taken to the catwalk in London Fashion Week, appeared in Vogue and worked on campaigns for Ted Baker

Grey and proud: 'The best part is encouraging other women. So many tell me they love what I'm doing and that I'm showing women over a certain age don't have to hide'

Divorced from the father of her son, Dan, now 35, she dedicated herself to taking care of him as a single parent until he went to university. At 51, she signed with the agency Ugly, which specialises in character models.

‘I’d wanted to model when I was a teenager, but my mum wasn’t keen on the idea and I went to university instead,’ she says. ‘I studied Italian and French, but after Dan was born, I could only do part-time admin jobs. When he went off to university, I was working for a voluntary organisation and my boss was a lawyer who’d represented modelling agencies. He kept telling me I should be a model, so one day I called Ugly and asked them if they’d be interested in a middle-aged woman.

‘They said yes. I was surprised, but when I tell people I’m a model they say they can see why, as I’m so tall.’


Dream come true: Pam had wanted to model as a teenager but went to university instead

For several years, Pam enjoyed a steady trickle of jobs, including catalogue work, appearing in a video for ex-Spice Girl Emma Bunton and working as an extra alongside Jude Law and Julia Roberts in the film Closer.

She thought of it as nothing more than a fun hobby. Then, when she turned 60, work started flooding in.

Not in it for the money: Pam enjoys encouraging other women

‘Suddenly, I found myself being booked for edgy fashion jobs. It was a surprise, but I noticed other older models in adverts and on the catwalk and I realised fashion was chasing the grey pound.’

Pam has taken to the catwalk in London Fashion Week, appeared in Vogue and worked on campaigns for Oxfam, Vodafone and Ted Baker.

Her photograph was plastered on the sides of buses when she was the face of a campaign for London’s Brent Cross shopping centre, and she even played a zombie in the Brad Pitt film World War Z.

‘It’s only recently that I’ve earned enough to give up my day job. I don’t make a fortune — usually £250 for a job, though some campaigns are more lucrative,’ she says.

‘But I don’t do it for the money. The best part is encouraging other women. So many tell me they love what I’m doing and that I’m showing women over a certain age don’t have to hide.’

It’s a view echoed by 65-year-old Kelly-Ann Page from London, who has been modelling for a decade. She is single, a mother to Lisa, 49, and has a 16-year-old grandson.

‘This is my time to have an adventure,’ she says. 

Time for adventure: Kelly-Ann Page, 65, has been modelling for over a decade, after being spotted in Marbella

Kelly-Ann was living in Marbella when she met the head of a modelling agency, who persuaded her to sign up. She was soon appearing in TV commercials and as an extra in films. When she returned to London four years ago, she joined Ugly and started attending castings.

‘I get excited about auditions, but it’s incredibly competitive and I get called back for only one in every three I go to,’ she says.

‘I’m lucky enough to have made money from property and see the £200 to £500 I make per job as a nice bonus to spend on myself.

Courage: Kelly-Ann says that sometimes it can be daunting to be in the spotlight

‘I am professional when I’m working, but I’ve also learned not to take it too seriously. One occasion taught me a lot. I was working as an extra on a TV drama in Marbella and had to sit by the pool outside a hotel while the star — a famous actress in her 60s — swept past. I saw her staring at me and the next thing I knew I was being moved, so I wasn’t so prominent in the shot.

‘It was annoying to be the victim of someone else’s insecurities, but I’ve learned not to have an ego.’
Kelly-Ann’s most memorable job was appearing in a bikini on ITV’s This Morning, in a segment where they debated whether women in their 60s should wear a two-piece.

‘I’m a size eight and I do take care of myself — I do a lot of Pilates — but it took a lot of courage to walk out in front of the camera,’ she says.

‘Phillip Schofield said that I looked great, but I was so embarrassed just standing there under all the lights on live TV.

‘Afterwards, though, I felt very brave. My friends all said I’d looked great, so I was glad I could show that sixty-something women don’t have to become invisible.’

A sentiment millions of other women would no doubt applaud.

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