updated 11 Aug 2010, 01:43
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Fri, Jun 04, 2010
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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

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.

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