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What Is Grey?

Fashion is changing too. Moving off the catwalk and driven instead by social media platforms, the changing public perception of age, beauty and style is being exercised on the pages of Instagram, Youtube and Facebook.

What is Grey? This is the question I asked when researching the concept of a mature model agency early in 2015. On launch we wanted to challenge the perception of 'grey' and did so via an In-Your-Face slogan T-shirt campaign - fronted by punk vintage model, Sara Stockbridge, slim cool Antony and beautiful body art, Matthew, all sporting the ballsy, confrontational, Am I Grey? Tee.

©Paul Spencer

Six months on and the 'grey' revolution has moved far beyond the embrace of silver hair or the hint of wrinkles in beauty campaigns, it is a revolution that redefines our perception of age and ageing. Those of us who have reached our 5th, 6th or 7th decade are the same generation who attended anti-war demonstrations, grew our hair long and offered peace, love and sex as an alternative to war and controlling class systems. We were the rockers, the Mods, the Punks and the New Wave, expressing our values and identities through music, art, fashion, design and popular culture. We have not changed. We are still innovators, disrupters and style-changers. We are the New Generation Grey.

Grey Model Agency represents the new age of Grey embracing the diversity across that age range; our #UnitedColoursOfGrey defines the colourful characters, the culturally diverse fashionistas, the international beautifully-ageing ambassadors of healthy, fun-filled lives that the younger generations admire and aspire to become.From the moment we launched Grey's philosophy captured the imagination of the international press: This is the aged rebellion, the final frontier in overcoming discrimination and like the punk movement, Grey fashion unapologetically defies convention; Doc Marten-clad models in their 70's sporting big hair, bold colours and brazen attitudes. Beige is ironic, grey is the new blonde and experience is the new sexy.

©Trisha Ward

Our first clients were the forward-thinking fashionistas. Rankin's Hunger Magazine booked 82 year old, Frances - a New Face in the world of modelling - along with silver-haired Italian beauty, Alex Bruni and the androgynous Sanna for their main Prada fashion feature, I Was A Teenage Anarchist, captured in gritty North London by photographer, Trisha Ward. The models are ageless their styling an eclectic mix of colour and texture. Far from ridiculing age, the shoot illustrated how cutting-edge fashion can be endorsed by our Grand Dames. A sentiment embraced by the quite brilliant NYC-based designer, Fanny Karst, and her collection, The Old Ladies Rebellion.

© Iris Bjork

Hunger was swiftly followed by a Look book and catwalk show at London Fashion Week where the extremely exciting and talented young Chinese designer, YouJia Jin launched her mother-daughter inspired SS16 collection illustrating how modern chic sophistication need not be age dependent.

© Hakim Satriyo

The doors to the East had opened and through them walked Grey model and scholar, Alex Bruni, on sabbatical in Indonesia during Jakarta Fashion Week. Deconstructing a schedule that focused once again on youth, Alex's Goddess-like presence attracted the interest of top designer, Tri Handoko, who harnessed her signature silver locks to add drama to his SS16 collection and show. In just two months the fashion-leaders of the East had recognized, embraced and endorsed the relevance, diversity and sustainability of mature models within fashion. If London's Grey Model Agency is the trailblazer in redefining mature models then the fashionistas of the East are the forward-thinkers who are picking up the baton and running with it.

©Ari Seth Cohen/Christine Hahn

But fashion is changing too. Moving off the catwalk and driven instead by social media platforms, the changing public perception of age, beauty and style is being exercised on the pages of Instagram, Youtube and Facebook.

Spearheading the rise of the New Global Grey, Grey Model Agency signed 60 year old Instagram It Girl and style icon, Sarah Jane Adams to its Specials board. With a following of over 46k Sarah, aka Saramai's, unique eclectic wardrobes, that team Adidas Originals with Indian Sari silks, homeboy hoodies with hippie batiks, have captured the imagination of young and old, male and female, desperate for a torchbearer to lead the way in self-expressed styling and anti-conventional lifestyle.

Sarah's 18 month rise to style-icon status, her unflinching punk attitude and her embrace of age with the hashtag: MyWrinklesAreMyStripes is the personification, the ambassador of this New Generation of Grey. The world is changing, the market is media savvy and forcing a move away from the artifice of youth to embrace the healthy, the wise and the diversity within their own age group.

Saramai #MyWrinklesAreMyStripes - A hardback limited edition book will be released by Unbound Publishing on 21st January 2016.

This February, HuffPost UK Style is running a month-long focus on our Fashion For All campaign, which aims to highlight moments of colour, size, gender and age diversity and disability inclusivity in the fashion and beauty world.

We will be sharing moments of diversity at London Fashion Week with the hashtag #LFW4All and we'd like to invite you to do the same. If you'd like to blog about diversity or get involved, email us here.

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