“As a child I regularly took trips with my parents from Brussels to Amsterdam, to visit my grandparents. I already knew back then that I wanted to live there one day. In 1975 I made the move and started working as a radiologist at a hospital. As I always looked very colourful, they appointed me as VIVA girl – I was supposed to visit terminal patients to lift their spirits.”
“The work was quite demanding though, and after a burnout I decided that everything I would do from then on had to be something I genuinely liked. I got a job as a waitress in the Reguliersdwarsstraat and later, I became the hostess of the Oesterbar at Leidseplein. On the side, I opened my own little shop in antiques and vintage, as I’d gathered quite the collection of curiosa myself.
During that time, my father told me about a gentleman in New York who took pictures of older, fashionable ladies. As I always looked so funny, he said, why not contact him? I looked into it and it turned out to be Ari Seth Cohen, from Advanced Style. We got in touch and in 2014 and 2015 he visited me in Amsterdam and portrayed me – I’m in his second book, which is out now.
That kick-started some other things, too. Man BijtHond approached me, other photographers portrayed me and recently, LINDA Magazine did a video report. I regularly get phone calls from people who want to work with me, all stating that ‘grey is the new black’. And indeed, a lot of fashion labels are now using older models in their campaigns, but I feel that it shouldn’t become a trick. Let’s not overdo it, or else it will be a trend and people will grow tired of us grey ladies.
The upside seems to be that older aged women do dare to stand out more – colourful hats, eye-catching accessories, interesting combinations. They will have nothing to lose and care less, if others think they look ridiculous.”