In the world of modeling and the beauty industry, it’s important to fit a certain mold: beautiful, thin, and most of all – young! Don’t even bother trying if you don’t fit any of those categories. In more recent years, however, the beauty industry has learned to embrace diversity – models now come in all shapes, sizes, and colors!
The only-young-need-apply requirement is also becoming a thing of the past as more senior men and women show off stylish looks, giving 20-year-olds a run for their money.
As more modeling agencies add older models into their roster, one agency decided to challenge beauty and age stereotypes even further. Oldushka, a modeling agency based in Russia, specializes in booking the older generation, choosing to exclusively represent models aged 46 and older.
The modeling agency traces its roots to a passion project of photographer Igor Gavar – photographing the street style of pensioners in Siberia. He featured them on his blog, also called Oldushka. The name Oldushka is an amalgam of the English word “old” and a common Russian suffix “ushka” which implies affection and tenderness for the person so named.
Of all the portraits posted on his blog, portraits of older people got the most attention and received positive feedback. The pictures were of ordinary people he met on the street who stood out for their style. Gavar says it was “beauty, absurdity, sincerity and bewilderment” that he captured in his first subjects. “Beauty—it’s a quality that becomes more valued with years,” he recalls.
“I met some very interesting faces, and I wanted to do a separate project with them. A modeling agency became that sort of project.”
True to its name, Oldushka prides itself on a roster whose age range goes all the way up to 85—and boasts plenty of wrinkles and gray hair. The agency represents 18 models in cities across Russia, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ufa, and even Gavar’s far-flung Siberian hometown of Omsk.
In hiring models, the agency looks for charisma, spirit and openness to adventure. Height and weight are unimportant, as Oldushka is more interested in highlighting the age, experience, and wisdom of its models.
The good-looking men and women of Oldushka each have their own distinct look, and have landed contracts for an array of campaigns from avant garde fashion to lifestyle photography. They have joined runways of well-known designers, and graced fashion magazines and advertising campaigns.
Now, Gavar is helping to expand long-held notions of who and what looks good. He even specifically stipulated in the agency’s professional agreement that Oldushka models are not allowed to sign contracts with “anti-ageing” products or services, and clients are not allowed to “photoshop out” wrinkles and gray hair.
Oldushka is helping to expand standards in the beauty industry and show that age is only a number. “The models appearing as themselves is an instrument to fight stereotypes,” Gavar explained. “They are an inspiring example to show that it is possible to look beautiful and be your age.”