The idea of having several brand ambassadors for Look Fabulous Forever is to build a community of high profile older women who are inspirational in one way or another. So, we were thrilled when Sandra Howard (76) agreed to be our first brand ambassador because she's had an amazing working life starting out as a top model in the 60's and re-inventing herself as a successful author at the age of 65. Our second brand ambassador, Nicola Griffin, has an equally inspiring story of change and re-invention - this time in her 50s.
I first met Nicola in October 2014 when I was invited to go to Nottingham by Jayne Mayled, founder of specialist company White Hot Hair. Jayne and I have a very similar philosophy and she is doing with hair care what we are doing with makeup - i.e. formulating products that work better for the older woman. The occasion in Nottingham was a photo shoot with four amazing looking older models and I agreed that Linda Sullivan, our LFF makeup artist would accompany me and we would supply all the makeup for the shoot. Nicola was one of the four wonderful models and it was her very first modelling assignment - see the result below.
It had all come about through a chance encounter with Jayne Mayled in a queue at the bank!
At the time Nicky was working from home for a French company, renting a room to students and was preparing for 'empty-nest syndrome' when her twin daughters headed off to university. Jayne spotted that Nicky has exceptionally thick lustrous grey/white hair so she would be perfect for the photo shoot. After that first modelling assignment and with advice from Linda (also a mature model) ringing in her ears, Nicky signed up with an agency and has now, aged 56 had a meteoric rise within the fashion industry.
Here is Nicky's story:
"I’m delighted and honoured to have been asked to be an ambassador for Look Fabulous Forever. Makeup especially made for mature skin! How fantastic for us older ladies that Tricia is encouraging us to look fabulous in our fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond. I often think of my own mother who at 55 patted a little powder from a compact on her face for church on Sundays. She made her own clothes from a pattern and knitted her own cardigans. How far we have come since those days! Now 55 is young and we can still look wonderful and age really is just a number. We refuse to be invisible and ignored any more!”
“So far, my life as a model has been an exciting, exhausting and thrilling couple of years.”
“One of my first negative experiences, which always makes me giggle when I think about it, was during an interview with a new up-and-coming model agency representing models of 40+. I was given a card with a phone number and address for Botox and surgical face lifts!!! The implication was that I mustn't look my age - I was expected to change my face to be accepted!”
“Fortunately I am a strong woman who feels comfortable in my own skin, so I quickly decided that was not the agency for me.”
“I was then approached by a fantastic agency called Milk and with them my career took off and I haven't looked back. I am now 56 years old. I am accepted as I am and have never been questioned about my weight or my wrinkles. This is what a real woman looks like at 56… and this is who I am. The modelling world has taught me a lot about being brave, being yourself and facing rejection. It’s the nature of the beast. I would consider myself to be confident and recognise that the fashion world is changing and plus size models and mature models are gradually being accepted by fashion houses like Hope Fashion (see above). It’s a great change and about time!”
"Without doubt my most exciting job was for Swimsuits For All in USA."
“The photo that went into Sports Illustrated Magazine launched me as the oldest woman ever to appear in it. Wow! I appeared on all the USA TV news and morning shows. I spoke about body diversity and the war on ageism, the cult of youth and the rejection of old age in the fashion world. This was a big breakthrough in America. I walked the red carpet at the Sports Illustrated party with many other beautiful women all under 30! How come I was the only one in her 50's? I am so proud to be a part of such a movement that encompasses mature females who embrace their age!”
“My success in becoming a model in my 50s goes to show that there is plenty of room in the world of fashion and beauty for all ages and all sizes.”
“I am thrilled to represent women of my age and hopefully I can help influence others to feature older women in fashion shoots. Beauty is ageless. My life as a model sometimes feels a little like a journey of self-development and I’m embracing this new life and all it brings. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity and I celebrate my age , my wrinkles and grey hair. I have done the swimsuits and the lingerie shoots and wonder what next. I am very excited about what the future holds.”
Have you re-invented yourself after the age of 50? Do tell us your story - we love to read them all!
Fabulous Forever Women - In Conversation with Nicola Griffin