Ageless Beauty

'It Felt Liberating': Model Roxanne Gould Defies the Fashion Industry's Expectations About Aging

One of the first successful gray-haired models, Gould has worked with Iman, Cheryl Tiegs and Jerry Hall and appeared on the covers of a variety of international Vogue magazines.

By Megan McDonald August 29, 2018 Published in the September 2018 issue of Sarasota Magazine

More women than ever are defying expectations about how they should age—including walking away from the monthly trip to the salon to get rid of the gray.

Model Roxanne Gould, 60, is at the forefront of that movement. One of the industry’s first successful gray-haired models, Gould and her husband Scott Ohlgren, a marketing consultant, now live in Sarasota after relocating from Boulder, Colorado, in 2017.

Modeling since she was a child, Gould has worked with top models like Iman, Cheryl Tiegs and Jerry Hall in the 1980s and ’90s; appeared on the covers of French and German Vogue; and walked in runway shows for designers like Jil Sanders. She’s the face of Retro Co., a Fort Myers-based skincare line, and has appeared in campaigns for designers like Christian Siriano.

A former modeling and life skills coach for young girls, Gould says empowering women of all ages to be themselves remains her most rewarding work.

Shirt and pants: Red Valentino (both from The Met)

What drew you to Sarasota?

It was the arts and cultural life and the vibrancy of the town. Things are happening here in Sarasota. You can feel it. We’d lived in Colorado for 30 years and were empty nesters. It was time for a new phase in our lives. We didn’t know anyone here, and we rented a furnished house sight unseen. It was a leap of faith.

When did you start modeling?

I was 3. Bayer Aspirin had just launched aspirin for children, and my mother was acting in the commercial. They needed a child, and she said, “I have a daughter.” I was always comfortable in the studio because of that experience. My mother was a model and actress until she was about 60, and even my grandmother was onstage. It runs in the family.

How did you decide to embrace gray hair in an industry with such an emphasis on youth?

I was in my 30s. I didn’t look young, but I didn’t look old. At this point, I was raising my children, and I’d been dyeing my hair to the point where I didn’t know my true color anymore; it was so dry. One day, I turned my head upside down and chopped it all off. I wanted to be who I was; I didn’t understand how changing my hair color would make me better. It felt liberating to do it.

Jacket: Derek Lam 10 Crosby; tank: Rag and Bone; pants: Jonathan Simkhai (all from The Met); shoes: Sam Edelman; earrings: Free People. 

What was the response like?

My agent begged me to take pictures; gray-haired models were not a thing like they are today. I agreed, took some test shots and was catapulted into a whole new niche. Since then, I’ve been working more with gray hair than I did when I was a brunette.

Gray hair and un-Photoshopped bodies seem to be a trend now. What do you think of that?

It starts as a trend until it becomes the norm. Look at tattoos—they were revolutionary and now we don’t look twice. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of accepting people’s individuality and understanding that we all go through different phases of life. We don’t have to conform. We don’t have to be scared of age.

What are your best tips for aging gracefully?

Accept yourself as you are. When you do, it washes over you and people feel it—it shifts your energy. It all starts with loving yourself and having fun. If you want to be expressive with your hair or makeup, do it. But start with the inside. You create what you think.

How about hair and makeup do’s and don’ts?

I’m a great believer in being comfortable. That’s the No. 1 thing—put on clothes that you feel good in and can move in. Everything, from your shoes up, should be comfortable. If you have a feature on your face that you like, accentuate it. As we get older, blush and mascara are a must—and sometimes less is more. When you’re in your 20s and have taut skin, eyeliner looks fab—not so much when you’re 60.

Coat: Anthropologie; jeans: Rag and Bone (The Met); tank: Abound; bralette: Free People; shoes: Kennel & Schmenger. 

What’s your advice for young women and men who are growing up in an age where everything is perfectly captured and captioned for social media?

Perfection doesn’t exist. My advice is to strengthen your mental muscle so you can realize that social media is someone’s creation. It’s their art; it’s planned, tweaked and filtered. Enjoy it, but don’t allow it to make you feel less than.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next decade?

I’m hoping to still be in this business. Maye Musk [yes, Elon Musk’s mother] is a close friend and an inspiration to me—she just got a Cover Girl campaign at age 70. I feel like I’ve got another 10 years in me, easy. I’ve been given so much privilege that I want to extend my hand to others. I’ve become a “big sister” with Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Sarasota, and I have the most lovely “little sister.” That’s the type of giving back I want to do, especially in an age when women are feeling their own power and not accepting less than they deserve. I’m so charged to be on this bandwagon, speaking up with other women.

What about living in Sarasota are you looking forward to most?

Spending time at the ocean, especially after 30 years in the Rocky Mountains. I was swimming in the ocean the other day and saw dolphins and I was so excited. This is a total change of scenery and I’m ready to enjoy it.

Credits: Hair/makeup artist: Eri Vincent | Fashion stylist: Dana Abernathy | Paintings used in set design: Joseph Patrick Arnegger

Featured image: Shirt: Isabel Marant Étoile; jeans: Citizens of Humanity (both from The Met); bracelet: Free People.

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