50-plus supermodels still at work, proving beauty is ageless

Have no fear, Hoda: 50 today is more in line with fabulous than frumpy. Just ask models in an industry where 24 is considered older.

“When I handle models, I just think of them as beautiful women,” said Patty Sicular, director of Trump Legends, which represents supermodel Carol Alt, 53, and other women into their 80s. “The industry has followed. They agree that women are beautiful at every age.”

For Alt, the host of FOX News' “A Healthy You & Carol Alt," the health and beauty changes that come with aging were a surprise. “My mother’s generation didn’t really talk about that stuff,” she told TODAY.com. “A lot things were just a shock to me ... I think women need to know what’s going to happen and know what’s next.”

CAROL ALT Everett Colleciton, Getty Images
Model Carol Alt, who is still working, as beautiful in the '80s as she is today.

Although Alt certainly doesn't shy away from fashion, she does suggest that women in their 50s not wear things that are inappropriate, even if they are thin enough to fit into them. “I see all these women trying to mimic young girls,” she said, with puffed-up lips, hair dyed too blond and being “super, super" thin. “I think over a certain age, being too skinny makes you look older.”

Instead, she said, it’s about looking the best for your age. “There’s something about growing old as gracefully as possible,” Alt said. “I’m not against work, I’m just against too much work where you’re trying too hard and people can tell.”

“You’re 50. Be graceful, be gorgeous. Embrace it because the more you fight it the more ridiculous you look,” Alt said. “I don’t care how much plastic surgery you get, a 20-year-old guy is not going to look at the 80-year-old woman. Meanwhile, the 40-year-old guy is looking at that 80-year-old woman, and that’s cool.”

The Winser London Autumn Winter 2014 campaign features model Yasmin Le Bon, 49.  / Winser London
The Winser London Autumn Winter 2014 campaign features model Yasmin Le Bon.

More mature models are definitely en vogue in the industry. Legendary agency Wilhelmina International has conducted a model search for women 30 and older, with several contestants 50 and older. AARP The Magazine also held a contest last year — “The Faces of 50+ Real People Model Search” — and TODAY's own Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb were among the judges. And just this week, supermodel and mother Yasmin Le Bon, 49, appeared in ads for Winser London Autumn Winter 2014. Then there’s 81-year-old Carmen Dell’Orefice, still relevant in fashion week shows and ad campaigns. 

For Roxanne Gould, 55, modeling started when she was 3. She lived in Europe for 10 years in her 20s and continues to model today with IconicFocus Models. And gray hair has become her signature.

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After dyeing her hair brown for years, she stopped when she turned 40 “and it just catapulted me into a whole new niche with having salt-and-pepper hair. I work more now nationally with gray hair than I did with dark brown hair.”

Gould operates the Image By Roxanne modeling school in Boulder, Colo., where students start at 13 and go into their 50s. In addition to guiding them in the financial aspects of the modeling industry and practical tips, she espouses a philosophy that fits for any age, models or not.

Model Roxanne Gould Roxanne Gould
Model Roxanne Gould isn't slowing down: The 55-year-old continues to model regularly, and even runs a modeling school.

“What I consider to be beauty is not your hair, not your clothes, not your makeup — though that helps,” Gould said. “It’s your energy, it’s your thoughts, it’s where you put your mind ... how do they see their own reflection? With disgust or love or admiration and gratitude? Those change a person’s energy. How you make other people feel, that’s what they remember about you.”

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While that is true, Gould concedes that the process is not easy. “I admit I look in the mirror and I don’t really recognize who it is. I still see myself or know myself as a young woman,” she said. “It’s such an interesting path to be on, to see these changes I’m going through. It’s almost like a metamorphosis — who am I becoming? I think that if we listen to our bodies as we age, it helps you age gracefully.”

Slowing down and changing your beauty regimen is far from letting yourself go, she said. “I’m a big believer in trying to maintain what you have and care for what you have,” she said. “Try to dress and groom yourself to be as attractive as you can. It also lets you feel confident.

“I’m sure I’ve read and heard and talked to women that try to grab on to the past and try to hold on to the past and it slips through their fingers and they freak out. So it takes courage to allow it to slip through your fingers, because it’s gone. It’s over, it’s past and, personally, I want to be in the now and look forward to the future and be grateful for the past. I don’t have all that youth. I don’t want to sour my life by trying to grab onto it.”

  • Slideshow Photos

    Famous faces: Supermodels then and now

    They were once "just" supermodels, now they're designers, business owners, TV judges and moms. Take a look at these gorgeous ladies as they were at the height of their celebrity — and now.

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    Twiggy -

    Born Lesley Hornby, Twiggy entered the fashion world as a teenager in the swinging '60s, becoming well-known for her androgynous physique, large eyes and cropped hair. Since being dubbed “the face of 1966” by the Daily Express, she’s gone on to act on screen, stage and television. She also had a stint as a judge on the reality show "America’s Next Top Model."

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    Christy Turlington -

    Christy Turlington has graced over 500 magazine covers since she started modeling as a teenager. Now 44, she has earned a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University and is married to Ed Burns, with whom she has two children.

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    Claudia Schiffer -

    German-born Claudia Schiffer was first spotted in a nightclub at the age of 17, and went on to become one of the world's most highly-photographed models, appearing on over 700 magazine covers throughout her career. Since her modeling heyday Schiffer has performed in films, designed her own fashion collection and acted as a U.K. Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.

    WireImage, Getty Images
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    Elle Macpherson -

    Dubbed “The Body” in the 1980s, Elle Macpherson has made a record five appearances on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue during her career. Post-modeling she started successful lingerie and skin care lines. The 48-year-old is now the host and producer of NBC’s "Fashion Star."

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  • Famous faces: Supermodels then and now

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    Linda Evangelista -

    A longtime muse of photographer Steven Meisel, Linda Evangelista has appeared on over 600 magazine covers. Now 47, she has one child with billionaire Frenchman Francois-Henri Pinault. Proving that beauty knows no age, she became the new face of Talbots in June 2010.

    WireImage
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    Heidi Klum -

    Heidi Klum became the first German Victoria’s Secret Angel in 1997, at the age of 24. Now 39, she’s still strutting down the runway, appearing most recently as a host and model at the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. This busy lady is also a host and executive producer of Project Runway, and a mother to four children.

    “The ultimate beauty secret for a woman getting older is, Don’t be too thin! It is always better to have a little meat on your bones,” she told Self in 2010.

    WireImage
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    Marisa Berenson -

    Yves Saint Laurent called Marisa Berenson, granddaughter of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, “the girl of the Seventies.” Since her supermodeling days, the 65 year old has broken into the movie industry — most recently appearing in the 2010 film “I Am Love.”

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    Naomi Campbell -

    Discovered by a scout at the age of 15, Naomi Campbell was one of the biggest models of the early '90s. Despite stints in rehab for cocaine addiction, she’s continued to grace the catwalk, walking the runway in 2007 for Dior’s 60th anniversary fashion show.

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    Christie Brinkley -

    Christie Brinkley, 59, became famous for her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue covers in the late '70s and spent 25 years as the face of CoverGirl. More recently she’s had guest roles on television shows like Parks and Recreation. “I don’t ever apply makeup without scrubbing my face first,” the mother of three told People in 2011. “And I’m very careful with my makeup. Too much emphasizes your wrinkles.”

    WireImage, Getty Images
  • Famous faces: Supermodels then and now

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    Cindy Crawford -

    Cindy Crawford and her signature mole shot to worldwide fame as the supermodel became a household name in the '80s. Now 46, she has two children and several business ventures, including a line of furniture. “As I’ve gotten older I wear less makeup,” she tweeted in 2012. “It can make you look older, and hopefully we get more comfortable in our skin.”

    WireImage, AP
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    Helena Christensen -

    Helena Christensen has had several titles throughout her career: Beauty queen, Victoria’s Secret Angel, photographer and creative director for Nylon magazine. The mom of one, now 44, even launched her own clothing line in 2006 and has continued modeling in fashion campaigns.

    AP
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    Iman -

    Iman spent 14 years as one of the top fashion models in the world. These days she’s married to David Bowie and keeps busy with her successful cosmetics company, Iman Cosmetics, which she started in 1994.

    WireImage, Getty Images
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    Jerry Hall -

    Fashion model and actress Jerry Hall still isn't camera shy, recently posing nude with her 28-year-old daughter Lizzy Jagger in a campaign to raise awareness of overfishing. Hall, 56, also became the face of Invisible Zinc Skincare in 2010.

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    Kate Moss -

    Famous for her waifish figure, Kate Moss was discovered at the age of 14 and went on to become the face of Calvin Klein, Burberry, Dior and many other labels. She continues to model today and has designed a collection for Topshop. Moss, 39, married British musician Jamie Hince in 2007.

    AP
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    Lauren Hutton -

    Lauren Hutton, 69, has graced the cover of Vogue 26 times throughout her glamorous career. Fired by Revlon at 40, she made a comeback as a model in the '90s before posing nude in Big magazine at the age of 61.

    WireImage, Getty Images
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    Tyra Banks -

    Tyra Banks started modeling at 15, eventually becoming a Victoria’s Secret Angel and the first-ever African American model chosen for the cover of the lingerie company’s catalogue. Now 39, Banks hasn’t shied away from being honest about the aging process. “My butt’s kind of sagging. It doesn’t look as good. My boobs are kind of sagging, too!” she told In Touch in 2012.

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