The face of modelling is changing and the people behind Platinum Angels Management (PAM) are hoping to be at the forefront of the grey revolution.
It is the first agency in Singapore – and Asia – that exclusively represents models, talents and celebrities over the age of 50.
Its managing director and booker is former top Singapore model Pat Kraal, 59, who worked in Paris in the 1980s, where she strutted the runway for Givenchy, Jean-Louis Scherrer, Balmain and Christian Dior.
PAM is co-founded by Singapore event and show producer Brandon Barker, 67, and French national Beatrice Andre-Besse, 60, a senior director in the financial sector.
Both were also former models from the 1970s, and met in 2019 through mutual friends at a charity event where she was a model and he was the show producer.
Early last year, Mr Barker roped in Ms Kraal, his friend of 40 years.
The plan is to take PAM global, by developing its base in Singapore before expanding to the AsiaPacific, Europe and America.
It currently has a roster of more than 20 models, from their early 50s to late 60s, on its website.
Ms Kraal had stopped scouting for Hong Kong-based Global Faces Management a few years ago and was finding it “boring” being at home in Paris with her four children aged 20 to 29.
She tells The Straits Times: “It is not the end of the world just because you’re 60 – it’s just the beginning.
“We are having fun doing this, it’s like reliving our glory days.
“Most of the models I’ve reached out to and who’ve got on board were very keen, and people are generally supportive.
“It’s good even for a youngster to think, ‘Oh, when I reach 50 or 60, there’s a future, and I don’t have to be retired.'”
Ms Andre-Besse, who has two daughters aged 31 and 28, adds: “We want to help seniors to still feel useful in their community and be financially independent.
“We are all about inclusivity, diversity and positivity, and we want people to join our family. And coming from the same generation, we are also more considerate and careful when it comes to seniors’ needs.”
PAM also seeks to provide a platform of professional and personalised support for those who want to pursue a new career and chapter in life.
There will be an academy arm to coach seniors without prior modelling experience on how to pose and walk, as well as mentally prepare them to enter the scene.
The dream of Mr Barker, son of late politician E.W. Barker, is to pull off a whole fashion show where everyone is over 50, even the dressers, photographers, make-up artists, designers and show producers.
He says: “Those who have left the industry need the confidence to go back in, need someone like us representing them to put them back into work, because taking that first step can be daunting.”
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The trio note that the market for older models and talents has exploded over the past 10 years, as seniors appear more frequently in mainstream magazine editorials and fashion shows in Europe.
According to Mr Barker, there are currently three modelling agencies in Europe – in England, France and Russia – which exclusively represent senior high fashion models, but not in Asia.
Ms Andre-Besse says: “We are at the beginning of the wave. Maybe Asia is a bit slower (to catch on), but it will come here, of course.”
While Ms Kraal is confident that there is a global demand for platinum hair and laugh lines, she wonders if the advertising agencies and change-makers in Singapore are ready.
But she adds without missing a beat: “No, I think we will make them ready, we will change their mindset. We’re here to prove them wrong.”
Former models all ready to strut again
Nora Tien, 58
Beauty trainer Nora Tien is so “happy and confident” in her own skin, she started growing out her white mane in her mid-40s. “I developed some allergies from all the years of dyeing and touching up every three to four weeks. At 45, I decided to embrace it and I am loving it.”
She was a professional model from 1985 to 1995 with former top model Hanis Hussey’s modelling agency Hanis International, during which she clinched Singapore’s Supermodel of the Year title in 1988 and was department store Robinsons’ first in-house model.
Married with two children now aged 29 and 27, she finds it “exciting” to return to the industry of her youth.
“With children all grown up, having more time, earning extra money – why not go out and have some fun?”
Elaine Tan, 60
After winning Miss Universe Singapore in 1979, Ms Elaine Tan did runway shows for local boutiques, with overseas assignments taking her to Dubai, Malaysia and the Philippines.
In 1985, she was the in-house model for London-based local designer Benny Ong at London Fashion Week. She did shoots for magazines and newspapers and appeared in fashion and lifestyle advertisements.
She stopped modelling in 1986, became a training manager for cosmetics brand Max Factor and then a full-time housewife.
On picking up from where she left off 30 years later, Ms Tan – who is married with three children now aged 28, 27 and 25 – says: “Nobody has really tapped the market to sell the more mature model… It would be nice to celebrate the term ‘ageing gracefully’. I’m sure there are women and men out there with a zest for life, who would love to see an ad or watch a fashion show and see a reflection of themselves.”
Ibrahim Atan, 64
Mr Ibrahim Atan started modelling in 1985 with Carrie Models and continued to do so part-time into his 40s.
Notable jobs included a television commercial for sports brand Puma, magazine shoots and gracing local and international runways.
The director of fitness equipment supplier F1 Recreation and father of five children aged 18 to 32 feels it is “never too late to shine again” as he still has much to offer, and modelling is “second nature” to him.
Steve Kiang, 65
For Mr Steve Kiang, getting back to modelling is like “riding a bike”, as he had never lost his “touch”.
He appeared in magazines and advertisements from 1979 to 1983, as a model with Mannequin and Carrie Models, and taught deportment classes for the latter.
Now a sales and marketing director of a beverage group, he previously worked as a clothing designer and managed clothing manufacturers.
Mr Kiang, who is married with no children, says: “I thought it would be fun to reconnect with an old interest and passion. It’s also a great opportunity to rekindle old relationships and make new ones.
This article originally appeared in The Straits Times