UNION, NJ — Back in the 1960s, Louise Diane — who now lives in Florida — operated a modeling agency on Morris Avenue, near Union center, a critical step in what ended up being a lifelong career of modeling.
Fashion had been “in her DNA” before opening the agency, said Diane, which is why she started modeling at the age of 13, in a time when the focus “was on the clothes” instead of the figure.
And now at 79, she hasn’t stopped modeling yet.
“It was an interesting time, it was a different time. The whole modeling industry was more on the quiet side. Now it’s very Kim Kardashian,” said Diane. “I think my DNA was in fashion, I loved fashion. Of course we all have ups and downs, nothing is perfect — I probably would have liked to have been involved as a fashion director — but I’ve done well. I’ve continued modeling throughout my life, I just never stopped.”
Over the years, Diane has been at the center of photoshoots for magazines, commercials, brochures and more.
There are the easy jobs, Diane said, where she only has to flash a smile at the camera, and then there are a few not-so-easy days, as when she was wearing 12-inch heels “with a leopard coat on and holding a dog.” Diane’s work has also taken her to places around the world, including France and Turkey.
Through it all, she’s tried to use modeling as a way to empower fellow women, specifically young girls and seniors.
It’s easy for women at an older age, said Diane, to become dejected and anxious about how they look. No matter how well they’ve taken care of themselves, almost all women — and men — won’t look as good at 79 as they did in their heyday. Diane, whose 80th birthday is in October, “can’t say the words, the number I’m going to be,” she joked.
But life doesn’t end when you get old, and Diane likes to evoke Sylvestor Stallone’s character of “Rocky” to constantly remind herself of that.
“I talk to a lot of women who think after a certain age their life is over, and I want to be a voice to inspire women: Never give up. I always use that Sylvestor Stallone quote ‘one step, one punch, one round at a time,’ and that’s really how I try to live my life,” said Diane. “Otherwise, you can get really depressed when you think of your age. But it’s what it is, so you make the best of it.”
Many of the same adages apply for young girls who have developed an interest in joining the profession, according to Diane. Especially in a competitive industry like modeling, where there’s no shortage of people willing to do the work, it’s all about a world-class work ethic.
“A lot of people who get involved in modeling want instant gratification,” said Diane. “They want a job tomorrow. They have to understand that sometimes you have to go on 100 castings — I’m exaggerating a lot — if you want to stay in the business, you have to be persistent. I tell everyone, it’s easy to get in the business, it really is, it’s not hard. It’s just hard staying in. Not everyone’s going to hire you.”
It took a while for Diane, who left her modeling agency in Union when she moved out-of-state, to learn how to cope with rejection, which she says is an inevitability in the industry. In the beginning “it affects you,” she says.
But that shouldn’t discourage anyone from getting into modeling, adds Diane. If young girls or women work at achieving their dreams with persistence, there’s no reason they can’t become a reality. Diane, after all, is returning to New Jersey this spring so she can get back into the industry, at 79.
“I like to empower young girls, and tell them ‘you can do anything you want to do, it’s just a matter of getting out and doing it instead of talking about it,’” said Diane. “Because I never thought, when I started modeling, I would have such a nice, long career.”