NEW LIFE?Kate King-Roberts took up modelling last year, at the age of 58.?Pic: Michael McLaughlin
What Kate did next
Having found myself getting more and more frustrated lately with fashion and beauty advertising and the general refusal to use people over the age of 30 to model clothes, I was looking forward to meeting an older woman who began a modeling career last November.
Enter Kate King-Roberts, who at 59 has carved a whole new life for herself on runways all over Ireland. She is proud to declare her age, and for good reason: She’s gorgeous, and still turning heads. She refuses to let age be a barrier. Her motto? ‘It’s never too late to achieve your dreams’.
When we met for coffee and a chat recently, I spotted her instantly. A tall striking lady with softly curled hair, great cheekbones and firm skin – a real ‘Model’. She is passionate about clothes, accessories and fashion but mostly style.
Kate says her interest comes from her Dublin-born mother, who adored clothes and made an effort daily to project her best image. I found it hard to believe that this beautiful youthful woman has a 19-year-old grandson with whom she has a great relationship, she says he encourages her in everything she does … maybe that’s precisely what keeps her young!
I wanted to know what inspired her to go modeling and her thoughts on being an older model in this youth-obsessed culture we live in. “Beauty is such a vast glorious thing. It’s not just a gorgeous 20 year old with a perfect body. It is so much more,” Kate says. Agreed!
Having returned from London to Carracastle, near Charlestown, 12 years ago with her musician husband, Kate started working in schools teaching art, craft and design. After doing numerous charity fashion shows she noticed a distinct lack of models of a ‘certain age’, which she found strange, as mature models are very high-profile in the UK, where advertisers have tapped into the spending power of the grey pound. Agencies in this country are missing out on this lucrative market.
Kate’s opportunity to do something about this presented itself when she saw that Catwalk Model Agency in Galway and Dublin was having open casting days in September of last year. She contacted the owner, Mandy Maher, who invited her along, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Although she finds modelling challenging, pointing out that there is so much more to it than meets the eye, but Kate says she loves it. And what she loves most is that it affords her the opportunity to be a role model for women of her generation.
“I was excited about having an opportunity to try something new, particularly something I had never even imagined I might be doing into my 60s,” she confides.
First gig on TV
Kate’s first job came shortly afterwards on Ireland AM, and she admits to being extremely nervous, although stylist Cathy O’Connor was hugely encouraging. She has been working ever since and adores wearing all the fabulous clothes, though she admits she would love to model more than just ‘Mother of the Bride’ type shoots. There are so many older women out there who want to wear edgier everyday clothes, and Kate feels that maybe we need to extend the short career window of the model here. Wouldn’t it be great if we embraced this trend rather than just using the mature model for dentures, Tena Lady and stairlifts.
We both feel she would be inundated with work if she lived in France, where they truly appreciate beauty, not just when it comes to wine and art, but also in older women. Master Models in Paris, founded by Eric Percival in 2005, has mainly seniors on its books, both men and women. Another Paris model agency, Silver, only uses models over 40. At 70, Catherine Deneuve is in one of Louis Vuitton’s latest campaigns.
Further afield, the legendary American actress and model Carmen Dell’Orefice has been working for 70 years fronting campaigns for Rolex while wearing Galliano and Gaultier.
Other ladies espousing the cause include Jerry Hall (58), the face of skincare brand American Zinc, and Lauren Hutton (67), who sashayed down the catwalk wearing Tom Ford last year. Charlotte Rampling (68) is the new face of NARS cosmetics. Wonderful! All these women look amazing because they have the confidence and style that comes with age and experience.
“Too often we hear middle-aged women saying they feel invisible,” Kate says – and though neither of myself nor Kate believe we become invisible after 50, we DO think the age group is largely ignored in advertising campaigns.
After her first stint on TV3, the John Murray Show on RTE Radio 1 followed up with an interview promoting older people. The agency was soon inundated with women wanting to sign up as mature models. Listeners were inspired by the positivity Kate radiated, and she hopes it motivated them to explore new pursuits.
So, what advice would Kate have for women in their 50s, 60s and older who have unfulfilled dreams? “It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the perfect face and figure or the most toned arms,” she says, “just believe that we are here to live life to the fullest and to make the most of every day.” Hear, hear!
Kate feels we are becoming a more ‘ageless’ society where we are never too old to learn or try something new – and she believes it’s important to take whatever steps are necessary towards achieving your goal.
It is important to ‘accept you are ageing’, she says: “Denial is delusional.” While she acknowledges that it takes a bit longer in the morning to get the make-up right, she reckons it’s worth it – putting the ‘best face forward’ is important. She takes good care of her skin and hair, readily admitting that she’s blessed with a great mane! Having said that she is fully aware of the problems women face with thinning hair and would be first in the queue for some of the great products available if she ever encountered such problems. “It’s a wonderful time for this particular generation to make the most of what we’ve got,” she says. She also recommends getting out of your comfort zone as a huge confidence booster.
This is one lady who won’t succumb to the comfy slippers or elasticated skirts anytime soon. She has too many things to do. Watch out Twiggy!
So whether you fancy trying out something new – it could be anything from salsa dancing to art to computers – why not take a leaf out of Kate’s book and just go for it. Remember, you are the author of your own life, so why not make a start in creating the next chapter. Quelle joie!