Wanted: Models with silver hair and the lines of age
This unique talent management agency aims to dispel misperceptions about ageing by offering ordinary folks over 50 a chance to be in front of the camera.
With her dark silky Rapunzel-tresses cascading down her 1.72m frame, Ping Sie is one helluva striking woman. Cameras click and light bounces off the reflectors as Ping poses serenely to the instructions of a creative director.
She is no ordinary model, though.
You take a step closer, and do a double take when you see the lineaments of Father Time – the freckles dotting and wrinkles lining her beautifully-shaped face.
Meet Ping Sie who is a talent with Platinum Angels Management (PAM), possibly Singapore’s only talent agency that represents models, talents and celebrities aged 50 years old and above. First founded in 2019 in Europe by ex-models Béatrice André-Besse and Brandon Barker, PAM today has a stable of more than 80 talents from all over the world, with ages ranging from 50 to 80 years old. The agency opened its Singapore outpost in 2022.
Overseeing PAM operations in Singapore is managing director, Pat Kraal, a Singaporean who used to grace the hallowed runways of Paris for brands like Givenchy and Balmain in the 1980s. She said that while there is greater age diversity and acceptance of older models in Europe, Singaporeans do still have a “negative attitude” towards ageing.
“The majority of Singaporeans still have a negative attitude towards age and growing older because ageing has been linked to poor health, loneliness, dependency, and poor physical and mental functioning. PAM wants to change that. We want to show the world that older people can still look glamorous and drop-dead gorgeous but more importantly, we want to provide a platform of professional support for those who want to pursue a new career and chapter in life,” said Kraal, 61.
Anyone over 50 can apply to be a talent with PAM. Modelling experience, height and build, as well as looks are not essential although having a head of salt and pepper or silver hair is a “bonus”. Kraal said that PAM’s clients are usually advertising agencies that are on the lookout for ordinary-looking seniors who are comfortable in front of the camera. Some companies that PAM talents have worked for included Singapore International Airlines and couturier Louis Vuitton.
“We [PAM] absolutely do not want people who have undergone radical cosmetic surgery or Botox to apply to us. Ageing is a natural and irrevocable process, and we want our prospective talents to embrace their wrinkles, age spots and silver hair,” Kraal said. PAM will select applicants who have the potential and send their composites to advertising agencies that might be on the lookout for a certain kind of senior talent, for example, an older talent with short silver hair.
Embodying PAM’s “au naturel” philosophy is 60-year-old Ping Sie. Ping claimed to have stopped wearing make-up when she was 35, and has never permed or coloured her hair. Before joining PAM, the affable lady has never had any modelling experience despite boasting of a cosmopolitan upbringing. She was born in Malaysia, did her ‘O’ Levels in Singapore and ‘A’ Levels in London, secured her Bachelor of Arts degree in Los Angeles, and had only ever worked for her father’s company in Hong Kong.
Growing up in a traditional Chinese family, Ping professed that she was like a very typical child – following her parents’ instructions and wishes to the letter. She had wanted to pursue a creative career in interior design but did not as she knew her parents would not be pleased by her career choice.
It is better late than never, as the saying goes. So, when the chance came for her to be part of the creative industry, she had no hesitation to join PAM when they approached her in 2022.
Ping’s first modelling assignment was for Vogue Singapore in June 2022, when she was 59. She confessed to feeling trepidation, but the creative team in the studio put her at ease and helped guide her along during the shoot. Her family and friends had not known of her joining PAM, but were very supportive and proud when they saw the Vogue Singapore feature. She has not looked back since, having chalked up further modelling assignments such as the Silver Generation Runway Show (part of FashionCONNECTS) in November 2022.
“I have just started and I am enjoying myself! To everyone out there, you are never too old to create a new goal or dream a new dream. Love who you are and be yourself,” Ping said.
Kraal has the last word.
“Perceive ageing as a privilege and not an imperfection. Our talents have proven that even though they may be over 50, they do not resemble your typical grandfather or grandmother stereotypes. They exercise, take care of their looks and dress well. We welcome everyone to join us as it’s never too late to learn new things, such as going for castings and doing the photoshoots!”