Age Before Beauty?
First Published in the Western Mail on October 29th 2005 and written by Tryst Williams
Forget the supermodel, the new trend is for the 'real' woman through the ages. And a new Welsh modelling agency is capitalising on the trend. But what do their models think is the most beautiful age? Tryst Williams reports
MODELLING usually conjures up images of lines of waif-er thin teenagers gliding down the world's most glamorous catwalks.
An exclusive world where, according to stereotypes, most over-21s are past it and thirty-somethings are positively ancient.
But back in the real world a new breed of models from across the age range is helping to strike a chord with the rest of us.
In an era that has witnessed the success of an advertising campaign by Dove soap featuring older (as well as curvier) models, the women of Wales are now getting in on the act.
As these pictures from a new Welsh modelling agency show, real beauty is ageless.
Paula Abbandonato, director of Cardiff-based Vibe Models, said, "We have models on our books from late teens right through to the '50-plus' bracket and this is a very deliberate policy.
"Beauty these days is about real people at different stages in their lives.
"While our younger models bring fresh-faced charm to the catwalk or advertising campaign, our older models are able to offer life experience and self confidence which appeals to a different audience
"In our view the modelling business is not just about beauty but about attitude and personality."
It's a view that fits in with the recent phenomenon that has seen beauty product contracts awarded to an increasingly older band of women.
Once the sole preserve of flawless twentysomething starlets, the world's biggest beauty products have recently started being represented by the likes of Isabella Rossellini and our very own Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Similarly, popular television programmes are now more likely to represent slightly older versions of beauty than before, through glossy US imports such as Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City.
Cynics will doubtless point out this is more to do with boosting advertising revenues by using models who are more represen-tative of an ageing Western population.
But, regardless, it provides a welcome opportunity for would-be models who would once have been considered too old for the job.
"It's nice that we're included," said Carole Williams, a grandmother in her 50s who has just been signed up by the agency.
It provides her with the hope of emulating some of her glamorous heroines, such as Joan Collins and Elizabeth Taylor - both of whom are in their 70s.
"In the younger age group some are stunning, like Naomi Campbell, but Joan Collins for her age is absolutely fantas-tic," said Carole.
"For the dream assignment I'd like to be jetting off to the sun somewhere but anything would be a bonus.
"I just keep thinking I'm never going to be asked to do something - but I want to. I'm comfortable with everything about it."
Meanwhile one of younger models on their books, 24-year-old Laura Livesey, welcomed the wide spread of ages.
"I think that's great. I don't believe you should have an age limit on things like that.
"It's not all about beauty or how young you are, and it gives everyone a fair chance."
And she relished the chance of still being in the business in three decades' time.
"I would love it," said the beauty consultant, whose modelling icon is 31-year-old Nell McAndrew.
"That's one thing that worries people, that by the time you're 30 that will be it, but it's nice to think you can carry on.
"After all, there is a call out there for all different models."
The Teenage Model
The Twentysomething Model
The Thirtysomething Model
The Fortysomething Model
The Fiftysomething Model