Is Grey the New Black? How to Become a Mature Model

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In an industry dominated by willowy teens and a reputation for retiring talent aged just 25, mature modelling—that is to say, modelling by older adults—is on the rise. Leading fashion houses including Gucci, Ralph Lauren, and Simone Rocha are spotlighting older models in their campaigns, while publications including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar are celebrating senior talent on their covers: 2023 saw 89-year-old actor Maggie Smith advertising Loewe, while TV personality Mary Berry posed for Burberry. Meanwhile, 95-year-old Daphne Selfe, the world’s oldest working model, continues to be in demand. 

Designers are also keen to discover mature talent. In a bid to see clothing sampled by women her own age, New York fashion designer Batsheva Hay cast only women aged 40+ in her 2024 show, some of whom had no prior modelling experience. Australian architect Penelope Seidler, 85, was chosen to front a 2024 Camilla and Marc campaign, while British model Sylvia Ezer made her fashion world debut at age 88, posing for White Stuff’s autumn/winter advertising campaign. 

Men, too, are finding modelling success later in life. Philippe Dumas, 68, only started modelling at 60 after a career in the film and advertising industries. He’s since been the face of an advert for Joop! Homme.

If you’re ageing gracefully and are comfortable lending your looks to a growing movement championing visibility beyond middle age, here’s how to become a mature model.

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What is a mature model?

Mature model

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There’s no hard-and-fast definition of “mature” in model years. Some class it as over 50, others over 40, and some even count the 30s as mature.

It’s a varied line of work that involves fashion shoots, TV adverts, and marketing campaigns for consumer products. If you’re working in high fashion, it could even involve strutting the catwalk at runway shows. No matter when you enter the industry, there’s plenty of work to be found for mature models, from posing with gadgets to applying eye cream.

Who you sign with or get scouted by could affect the sort of work you do. American model Jacky O'Shaughnessy was 60 when she was scouted in the street by an American Apparel representative. She later appeared in the brand’s 2012 campaign. She’s since modelled for other household name brands and been featured in the pages of Vogue

“Older women want to see themselves [represented] and younger women want to feel that they’re not looking at a limit ahead of them,” reasons O'Shaughnessy, advocating the importance of older models.

4 steps to becoming a mature model

1. Refine your look

From how you do your hair to your choices in clothing, having a confident and comfortable sense of style that’s recognisable to prospective agents and brands is important. Mature models working in fashion are often expected to have a natural look that proudly shows grey hair and wrinkles. 

2. Create a portfolio

A portfolio is your photographic business card as a model. Agents and casting directors will usually see it before they meet you, so ensure it shows you at your best. Include a range of different photos (headshots, creative pictures, and full-length shots) plus practical information: your name, age, height, weight, eye colour, chest and hip measurements, and shoe size; your general location; and contact details for both you and your agent (if you have one).  

3. Network 

Use social media to connect with other mature models, follow agencies working with them, and find out about events and casting calls. Not on social media yet? Now’s the time to join. Instagram should be a priority as it’s photo-led. Fill your grid with your portfolio pictures. 

4. Secure representation

Getting signed by a model agent is an important step. Top-tier modelling jobs are usually cast through agencies, who also deal with the all-important admin, from checking contracts to managing pay. Choosing the right agent is equally important. While many mainstream modelling agents represent mature talent, some (like Grey Model Agency) specialise in older clients. Research to find your fit.

Famous mature models

David Gandy and Tyson Beckford

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Daphne Selfe: Selfe is the world’s oldest working model, with a career spanning over 70 years. She began modelling at age 20 in 1949 and has been photographed by the likes of David Bailey, Nick Knight, and Mario Testino. 

David Gandy: Gandy is perhaps the most famous mature male model. Previously the face of Dolce & Gabbana, his muscular build has set him apart in an industry dominated by lithe bodies. 

Jan de Villeneuve: In a career spanning over 50 years, de Villeneuve has fronted major glossies, including Vogue and Grazia. She continues to be popular with new designers, walking for Simone Rocha and Richard Quinn. 

Tyson Beckford: Beckford is best known for his years as a Ralph Lauren Polo model in the 1990s and 2000s, but he came out of retirement in 2022 to model for Beyoncé’s Ivy Park collection. 

Emma Balfour: Australian favourite Balfour is at the younger end of the mature model scale. She’s been featured in campaigns for high-end fashion labels including Bottega Veneta and The Row. 

Nick Pearce: British model Pearce was a professional snooker player for 15 years, but his modelling career began before that and has continued into his 50s. 

Waris Dirie: Somali supermodel Dirie has featured in campaigns for leading fashion and beauty brands including Chanel, Levi's, L'Oréal, and Revlon. She uses her status for good, campaigning against female genital mutilation via the UN and her own Desert Flower Foundation. 

Jacky O'Shaughnessy: Discovered at the age of 60, O’Shaughnessy is a relative newcomer to the modelling world. She’s walked for American Apparel, Diesel, and Sies Marjan, among other names. 

Craig Harris: Australian model Harris is big on social media, sampling new products by Dior and working as an ambassador for AU Life Pilates.

As mature modelling grows within the fashion industry, senior models are making their age group feel seen.

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