Celine Van Heel photographs her grandfather to prove fashion has no age limit
Beginning as a lockdown project, the family collaboration has now resulted in a new career path for the photographer and a successful modelling career for her 91-year-old grandfather.
- Olivia Hingley
- 23 March 2023
It’s safe to say that Celine Van Heel’s grandfather Andrés has always been someone who lives life to its fullest. Growing up, Celine always remembers him tanned, nicely dressed, a cigarette and whiskey in hand – and always ready to party. He’s her role model, someone she admires and someone who always pushes her to grab life by the horns.
When Celine moved from her home in Paris – where she lived and worked as a journalist at a fashion magazine – to live with her grandfather in Spain at the start of the pandemic, she realised not much had changed. He was still as stylish and free spirited at the age of 90. Inspired by his spirit, out of the blue Celine one day decided to make an Instagram account dedicated to him, entitled The Spanish King. At once on board, Andrés fell in love with the idea; a willing muse, he gave Celine his old camera and they instantly began shooting. “I loved it instantly,” Celine reflects. “I had so many ideas for him, I suddenly wanted to create, create and create.”
The very first image from the project exudes personality, vitality and youthful exuberance. Taken in front of Andrés cactus garden, below a bright blue sky and sizzling sun, Celine’s grandfather holds his hands in the air, an outfit of clashing yellow, pink and purple finished off with a large pair of shades. Despite being one of the first ever “official” photos Celine took, the photo has an instantly editorial feel and wouldn’t feel amiss at the front of an editorial campaign.
We’re clearly not the only ones who think so. Celine continues to explain that after the various lockdowns came to an end, The Spanish King received so much attention that the duo received multiple requests for editorial and campaigns. The duo now travel the world together shooting; the project has kickstarted a whole new creative path and “passion” for Celine and Andrés career has skyrocketed, with him being the face of campaigns for Celine, Zara Man, Kappa and eBay.
At the heart of Celine and Andrés’ collaboration is the desire to prove that fashion, creativity and confidence has no age limit. “My aesthetic approach has always been to show a man who is eternally young, free spirited, joyful, no matter the age or wrinkles he has,” Celine says. “I love colour, inclusivity and extravagance so much.” And, Celine is keen to impress that she and her grandfather are only at the very beginning of their journey – “there is much more to come!” she ends.
GalleryCeline Van Heel: The Spanish King (Copyright @ Celine Van Heel, 2023)
Celine Van Heel: The Spanish King (Copyright @ Celine Van Heel, 2023)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.