Old gold: seniors find second life in modelling

Tall and dapper at 78, Yvon Castaing is not your average grandpa: the Frenchman is a professional model, a second career he stumbled on 15 years ago after retiring from his first.

Advertising used to focus almost exclusively on the young, the nubile, the energetic. But as Western populations age better and better, models over 60 - sometimes way over 60 - have become increasingly bankable.

Castaing is, well, straight from central casting, the perfect gentleman in a blue-and-white striped shirt matched to his blue eyes, and as crisp as his diction is clear.

"I am a dandy, I admit it," he says disarmingly.

Born into a large family in 1932, Castaing started his career with a brief stint in the hotel business but found his calling selling perfume at the esteemed French luxury house Hermes.

"I was a good salesman," he said with a smile. "I guess that's why I also like modelling - you have to sell yourself."

His new career started in 1994 after a chance encounter with Beatrice Costantini, an actress who also heads Agence Di, a Paris-based agency specialised in actors that offers a large selection of seniors.

"When I started my agency there was a demand for grandmother types - little old ladies with grey hair, tiny grannies who made jam and biscuits," Costantini told AFP.

"But over the years the traditional grandma is no longer true to type. People now want healthy dynamic seniors," explains Costantini.

Castaing had long flirted with the idea of becoming an actor, even taking lessons and appearing in a few amateur plays. So when Costantini asked if he wanted to cast for an advertisement, it didn't seem like too big a leap.

Over the next couple of years, he had walk-on roles in movies for Roman Polanski, Martin Scorsese and French director Claude Lelouch, but today he only does commercials and print ads.

- Old is gold -

---------

Business is booming. Having wrinkles, it seems, is no longer a taboo.

"There is definitely a market for seniors today," said Costantini, whose agency has more than 500 models on tap in its "Young Forever" department.

Nearly 30 percent of people in France are over 55, demographically typical of many rich nations. So old is becoming gold, and ads for stair lifts and dentures adhesive just don't cut it any more.

Françoise de Stael, also 78 and one of the leading lights on France's seniors modelling scene, has seen the profession become far more competitive as brands look to corner the seniors market.

"You have to struggle every day to keep your place in this milieu," she said. "There are a limited number of opportunities, and there are more and more people showing up for senior castings, some of them only 50. You need a lot of patience."

A former fashion model, De Stael says that apart from the cash "it's good for morale."

"We remain young because we work with young people. That's what I really love about this job."

But a sunset-years career on the catwalk or in front of a camera can have its perils.

"I did a shoot on my 60th birthday in which they asked me to jump on a trampoline," Castaing recalled. "I did it, but it wasn't easy and I wound up with an acute inflammation of the knee."

"Sometimes they ask us to do very stupid things to give an image of dynamic seniors, able to do the same things as youths", De Stael said.

Paradoxically, working behind a camera well into their 70s has made both models less self-conscious about their looks.

"I used to be too narcissistic. But at some point, you really do realize that beauty is only skin deep," Castaing said. "Being young is all in your mind."

De Stael says she won't invest in cosmetic surgery or rejuvenation shots just to stay competitive.

Being philosophical about looks doesn't mean letting oneself go, however.

Castaing cycles and swims every day, and is careful about what he eats. De Stael walks vigorously, and takes special care of her hair and nails.

"The engine gets tired but the bodywork's still OK," said Castaing.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Laser and Router Operative

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Laser and Router Operative is...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician - 1st Line

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They have been providing local ...

    Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive / Trainee Managers

    £6000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for smart, orga...

    Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones