It's not exactly a secret that the modeling industry has long been obsessed with finding the next fresh-faced "It" girl or guy, who invariably has two key features: They're beautiful and they're young.
A new modeling agency is trying to change that, according to Vogue. Moscow-based Oldushka only signs models who are, yes, beautiful, but who are also at least 45 years old. The Russian agency stays true to its moniker (a play on the Russian word "babushka," meaning old lady or grandmother) when it comes to recruiting new talent, but don't think for a moment that its models can't take some seriously stunning photographs.
Still in its first year, the agency initially began as a photography blog by Igor Gavar, who captured the street style of Russian seniors.
"Beauty — it's a quality that becomes more valued with years," Gavar recently told Vogue. "I met some very interesting faces, and I wanted to do a separate project with them. A modeling agency became that sort of project."
Oldushka represents 18 models across cities in Russia, where the oldest talent is 85 and the youngest is 45. (And he's the youngest by a lot — the second-youngest Oldushka model is 60.)
It's not just a "cute" idea: Oldushka's models are actively booking jobs, including being featured in lookbooks for local designers, the national TSUM department store, Russian magazine spreads like Afisha, and a Saint Laurent Russia campaign.
Gavar scouts each model himself, often recruiting them off the street and having them pose for candid test shots, according to Russia Beyond the Headlines. He looks for older adults with natural beauty and lots of personality, which means many of Oldushka's models don't have a lifetime of training.
"It's more like a freelance job that allows people to try something new," Gavar told Russia Beyond the Headlines. "For many it has a therapeutic effect, which can boost your self confidence."
We love the modeling industry's recent push for more diversity in terms of race, size, shape, gender identity, and more, but Oldushka is unique in its mission to exclusively promote diversity in age.
That said, the modeling world does appear to be getting less restrictive about the "retirement" age of models. Just this year, women between age 50 and 85 have walked the runways for brands like Dries Van Noten, Simone Rocha, and Guo Pei. And we can't forget 63-year-old Christie Brinkley's iconic return to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and 56-year-old Mercy Brewer's latest campaign for Lonely Lingerie.
"Appearing as themselves is an instrument to fight stereotypes," Gavar told Vogue. "They are an inspiring example to show that it is possible to look beautiful and be your age."
We couldn't agree more!