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Model Kristen McMenamy let her gray locks show for all the world to see when she attended a party in London on Nov. 11, 2009. The 45-year-old mother of three also shows off her silver mane in the August issue of Vogue.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 8/2/2010 11:38:56 AM ET 2010-08-02T15:38:56

She gives new meaning to the term “silver fox.”

Model Kristen McMenamy is experiencing a revitalization in her career despite two very large checks against her — she’s 45 years old and she has long, fully gray hair.

This stunning woman is currently the alterna-flavor du jour, with a long tally of enviable jobs to her credit: She’s featured in American Vogue’s August Age Issue; designer Alber Elbaz chose her for his recent Lanvin campaign; she’s in the current issue of Dazed and Confused magazine; she walked in the fall 2010 runway shows for Calvin Klein and Viktor & Rolf this past spring, and who knows where we’ll see her in the upcoming spring fashion shows starting in September.

Vogue Italia
Kristen McMenamy displays her gray on the cover of the August issue of Italian Vogue.

Elegance with an edge
And all this for a model who rode the tail end of the original supermodel era in the 1990s — one mentioned in the next breath after Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista.

Even then, though, McMenamy, who lives in London with husband, photographer Miles Aldridge and their four children (including two they had together, as well as one each from previous relationships), was never particularly mainstream. Her lanky frame showed off clothing fabulously, but her facial features were not particularly feminine. The story goes that when she was a young model trying to make it, Eileen Ford told her it would never happen unless she had extensive plastic surgery.

But McMenamy persevered — and, as luck had it, her androgynous looks appealed to the edgier members of the fashion flock.

Like Linda Evangelista, who became a superstar when she cut off her hair, McMenamy shot to fame when she shaved off her eyebrows, in 1993. The look was a little disturbing, but designers and creative directors clamored to work with her.

And also like Evangelista, who is currently appearing as the fall face of retailer Talbots, McMenamy’s revival is more about who she is and what she projects from inside than how she fits the standard norms of beauty.

“Kristen has always been recognized for her beauty, personality and natural confidence; she has aged gracefully,” said Francisco Costa, women’s creative director for Calvin Klein. “Kristen is just as relevant today as she was when she first started modeling.”

“With Kristen, you’ve got the reality factor, the intelligence factor, and the talent factor,” Vogue fashion director Tonne Goodman says in her magazine. “She understands who she is; she understands fashion in a way that’s remarkable.”

It’s also McMenamy’s sense of self that led her to stop covering up the gray in her hair six years ago. “I thought all that gray hair would make a beautiful picture,” the model told Vogue.

However, her glorious gray is not without maintenance: McMenamy still has to visit a colorist every couple of weeks. “I have one big black streak in the center of my hair. It sounds really cool, but it’s not,” she told Vogue. Her London colorist lightens it to match the rest of her silver mane.

Not surprisingly, this model’s great gray look is on the forefront of the fashion trend of youngish people putting gray into their hair. Iconic model Kate Moss and Kelly Osbourne have both been spotted with silvery-gray streaks throughout their hair.

And the oddest person to be sporting faux gray is teenage fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson, who oddly resembles a little old lady with her gray, not the fashion trailblazer she aspires to be. 

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Photos: Silver foxes

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  1. George Clooney

    Sometimes all that glitters can be gray, as these entertainment and political stars prove by proudly displaying their silver hairs.

    Birthdate: 05/06/1961

    Earned Gray Hair By : Playing charming and likable scam artists/scoundrels in such films as "Out of Sight" (1996), "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000), "Ocean's Eleven" (2001) and "Burn After Reading" (2008), as well as through exposing and campaigning for the Darfur crisis. (Damien Meyer / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Diane Keaton

    Birth date: 01/05/1946

    Earned Gray Hair By : Putting up with difficult men like Michael Corleone, Woody Allen and Jack Nicholson in such films as "The Godfather" (1972), "Annie Hall" (1977), "The First Wives Club" (1996) and "Something’s Gotta Give" (2003). (Stephen Shugerman / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Richard Gere

    Birth date: 08/31/1949

    Earned Gray Hair By : Sweeping leading ladies like Lauren Hutton, Debra Winger and Julia Roberts off their feet in such films as "American Gigolo" (1980), "An Officer and a Gentleman" (1982), "Pretty Woman" (1990) and "Nights in Rodanthe" (2008). (Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Jamie Lee Curtis

    Birth date: 11/22/1958

    Earned Gray Hair By : Trying to avoid horrifying death in such "Scream Queen" classics as "Halloween" (1978), "The Fog" (1980), "True Lies" (1994) and "Halloween: Resurrection" (2002). (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Anderson Cooper

    Birth date: 06/03/1967

    Earned Gray Hair By: Reporting the hard breaking news and asking the tough questions as anchor of CNN's show "Anderson Cooper 360." (Gabriel Bouys / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Helen Mirren

    Birth date: 07/26/1945

    Earned Gray Hair By : Working hard as an actress, earning Emmys for "Prime Suspect" and an Oscar as Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen" along the way. (Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Eric Dane

    Birth date: 11/09/1972

    Earned Gray Hair By: Saving patients' lives and seducing nurses or fellow residents as Dr. Mark Slone of ABC's hit TV show "Grey’s Anatomy." (Valery Hache / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Paula Deen

    Birth date: 01/19/1947

    Earned Gray Hair By : Being an Emmy-winning TV cook, running a Savannah, Georgia, restaurant with her sons, and publishing five cookbooks. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Ted Danson

    Birth date: 12/29/1947

    Earned Gray Hair By: Serving drinks and talking about his ex-baseball days at the bar where everybody knows your name in the classic TV show "Cheers." (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Judi Dench

    Birth date: 12/09/1934

    Earned Gray Hair By : Being one of England's greatest actresses, earning an Oscar, two Golden Globes, and a Tony -- as well as trying to control 007 as M in the James Bond movies. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Robert De Niro

    Birth date: 08/17/1943

    Earned Gray Hair By: Seeking revenge on those who attempted to kill him in such "mobster" movies as "The Godfather Part II" (1974), "The Untouchables" (1987), "Goodfellas" (1990) and "Analyze This" (1999). (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Emmylou Harris

    Birth date: 04/02/1947

    Earned Gray Hair By : Forging a long music career that has garnered her 10 Grammys over 29 years, as well as suffering the devastating loss of music partner Gram Parsons, who died of a drug overdose in 1973. (Rick Nederstigt / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Harrison Ford

    Birth date: 07/13/1942

    Earned Gray Hair By: Fighting the dark side, hunting down replicants/androids and recovering important artifacts in such films as "Star Wars" (1977) "Blade Runner" (1982) and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008). (Stephen Shugerman / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. David Gregory

    Birth date: 08/24/1970

    Earned Gray Hair By: Pinning politicians down with tough questions as moderator of NBC News' "Meet the Press." (Joshua Roberts / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Roseanne Barr

    Birth date: 11/03/1956

    Earned Gray Hair By : Rising from blue-collar background in Salt Lake City to a successful comedy and acting career (not to mention surviving criticism of her performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a 1990 baseball game). (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Mark Harmon

    Birth date: 09/02/1951

    Earned Gray Hair By: First from working long shifts at the hospital as "St. Elsewhere" (starting in 1983) and then from conducting criminal investigations involving the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps in "NCIS" (starting in 2003). (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Bill Maher

    Birth date: 02/20/1956

    Earned Gray Hair By: Making political satire and sociopolitical commentary every week as host of HBO’s "Real Time." (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Ruby Dee

    Birth date: 10/27/1924

    Earned Gray Hair By : Working for civil rights with her late husband, actor Ossie Davis, as well as forging a distinguished acting career that has spanned some 60 years. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Bill Clinton

    Birth date: 08/19/1946

    Earned Gray Hair By: Serving as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993-2001, writing his autobiography "My Life" in 2004 and campaigning with his wife Hillary during her 2008 presidential run. (Steve Helber / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Kathleen Sebelius

    Birth date: 05/15/1948

    Earned Gray Hair By : Governing the state of Kansas from 2003-2009 -- and serving as the 21st Secretary of Health and Human Services. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Jon Stewart

    Birth date: 11/28/1962

    Earned Gray Hair By: Having to be funny every night as host of Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show." (Ethan Miller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Cloris Leachman

    Birth date: 04/30/1926

    Earned Gray Hair By : Winning eight prime-time Emmys (more than any other actress) and an Oscar for "The Last Picture Show" (1971) -- only to be eliminated from "Dancing with the Stars." (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Stacy London

    Birth date: 05/25/1969

    Earned Gray Hair By : Seeing the frightening clothes in peoples’ wardrobes before she helps make them over on TV’s "What Not to Wear." (Evan Agostini / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Lily Munster

    Birth date: 1827

    Earned Gray Hair By : Being an undead vampire on "The Munsters" (her real-life portrayer, actress Yvonne De Carlo, died in 2007 at the age of 84). (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Meryl Streep

    Birth date: 06/22/1949

    Earned Gray Hair By : Letting it go that way for her performance as a domineering magazine editor in "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006) -- garnering her an unprecedented 14th Oscar nomination as well as a Golden Globe. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
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Gallery: Photos of your gray manes

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