The fashion habits of the elderly don’t often get the spotlight here, but Grey is the New Black (Unseen Singapore) – an upcoming book by independent photographer/art director Rachel Loh (above right) and Australian model/writer Bella Bray – is looking to change that. Bray, who regularly shuttles between Singapore and Melbourne, has long admired the insouciant style of “aunties” here and the book is meant to celebrate that.
“They don’t follow fashion trends yet they often carry themselves with a confidence or indifference that to me is a breath of fresh air in an industry so often obsessed with youth and trends,” says Bray. Scouting the streets, the pair managed to round up 20 elderly folks for the book that’ll launch next May and is completely self-funded by the duo. To accompany it: an exhibition that will feature some of the women profiled.
“As we progressed and spoke with more women, we realised that a lot of them have low self-esteem and think that they’re no longer beautiful at their age,” says Loh. “With this, the book has become so much more than a street style tome. We want to also show that aunties are beautiful and have a place in society.” Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Happy People Helping People, a non-profit that specialises in aiding Singapore’s elderly.
Separately, the duo – who met last year on the networking app Bumble and became fast friends – are giving back to society through other projects. Loh, for one, is working on a series of podcasts about climate change with local environment activists Aidan Mock and Tammy Gan that’ll launch before the year’s out. As for Bray? She hopes to replicate their documentation of silver style in other cities in the region, collaborating with a different female photographer in each location. “I want to see each photographer’s unique perspective of their city through this story as well as create a platform for young female creatives to show their work.”
Photography for Loh & Bray’s portrait Vee Chin Art Direction Adeline Eng Hair & Makeup Priscelia Wong
This story first appeared in the December 2019 print issue of FEMALE.