Story and photography by David T Burgoyne
Chapter 1. I’m not a fan of men passing their forties coloring their hair. It might look great on the box on the shelves at Walgreens, but believe me, when the sun hits that shit, it looks like a plum rinse. Not cool! There are two schools of thought. Gray hair is either distinguished or aging. The truth is quite simple. It’s distinguished on handsome men and aging on guys who don’t look after them selves. For some reason perfectly brown hair doesn’t sit right on an older face, match that with botox and fillers and you’ve got a monster ‘Peter Pan’ still trying to get away with hot shorts and ‘Aussie bum’ underwear……. Aaaaah! now, let me start this over. That sounds way too bitchy, let me try to make this more profound.
Chapter 1. Take a look around, The fashion Industry has a new man in town. As comfortable in NYC as he is L.A, he was a metaphor for the adoration of follicle decay in contemporary culture . Gray is the new black , the epitome of elegance. He embraces his ’Silver Fox’…………..Aaaah, No! It’s going to be too preachy and pretentious , I mean I want people to read this article!
Chapter 1. Have you noticed that guys in their forties are appearing more and more in fashion campaigns. Along with the heavier beard, Older guys are once again back in the game. Gone are the ‘Abercrombie and Fitch’ pouting youths and in their place are rugged lumbersexuals and silver haired daddies. Aiden Shaw, the adult movie actor from the 80’s has effortlessly used his intelligence and gray hair to make his mark on mens fashion. A remarkable achievement in a gay society that both adores and rebuffs ex adult entertainment stars. Ok, better………
Looking back to my formative years, most of the TV stars I adoredl careers were over once the flush of youth had passed. They seemed to just disappear . It was as if there was no place for a man in his late forties. Where Cary Grant, Gregory Peck and Steve Mcqueen took their place as legendary ’screen idols’, there was a gaping hole in the market for real men. Advertising had resigned the 45 year old man to modeling thermal underwear in mail order catalogues. Enter Social media and the influx of visual stimuli that showed us attractive older men , looking amazing in their mid years. These men are taking care of themselves, still thinking about fashion and have so many platforms to prove that the older guy is still relevant. Instagram and Pinterest became a viable source for talent agencies to scout new talent and to trend new faces. These faces have character, they have lived and they are clocking up likes on social media as fast as Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner.
Picture the scene….. We are at Chris Stein’s book launch at Hollywood’s iconic ‘Paul Smith’ store. Hot in from New York, Miss Guy is on the decks and we are patiently waiting to get a selfie with the women herself ‘Debbie Harry’. I’m transfixed how beautiful she still is. I’m remembering how much influence ‘Blondie’ has had on my life and I suddenly feel like I want to get out of the line to just observe. I look up, in front of me, looking like a modern day ‘Cary Grant’ is Hollywood’s ‘man of style’ Eric Rutherford. He’s waiting in line with us. He’s nervous and giggly waiting to meet the Blondie front lady. I mention we are friends on Instagram. It was my “I carried a watermelon” moment. My companion ‘Luciana’ has gone weak at the knees. This man has presence. His silver hair makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a Hollywood movie. As I lift Luciana’s jaw back up she mutters, “Oh my god, you’re beautiful” to him and he repays the compliment to her. We wait in line , excited and intoxicated by the glamour of the moment. Eric poses effortlessly with Debbie for their social media moment. We on the other hand, awkwardly try get our shot with the blonde bombshell. People are grabbing and calling her. It was chaos. The Instagram pic says it all. Eric and Debbie look like they’ve been papped for ’Vanity Fair’ whilst Luciana and I look like two stalkers , sweating and nervous . Two deer in headlights.
Back to my story, so I’ve met Mr. Rutherford. Instagram’s ‘Silver Fox’. Since noticing him on Social media I have wanted to shoot him, to capture for myself the suave and elegant Mr.R.
When he’s not trotting from one side of the state to the other on modeling assignments for Mert and Marcus, he’s working as a contributing editor for ‘At Large’ magazine. Here his role is constantly evolving, discovering new ways to tell a story, bringing his social media persona alive with his ‘BTS’ features on fashion shoots. Brands are reaching out to work with ‘Mr. Rutherford’ through his ever growing social media presence. Eric has just recently returned to the modeling world. Working more now than ever before, he attributes his recent success to Instagram and other Social media platforms. Where clients are just as interested in the models Instagram following as much, if not more, than their book.
I recently had the pleasure to shoot this enigmatic gentleman exclusively for LEFT. Easy going and friendly, it’s easy to see how he’s in so much demand. When he cracks a smile or laughs at your jokes , you feel like you’ve been accepted into an exclusive club. His style rubs off in a way where you are actually keen to know where he shops or who he wears. He makes fashion look classy and super accessible. ( I’m sure I have a pair of jeans and a white T shirt I’m my wardrobe somewhere, although I know it could never look that good on me.) After one of the most fun and effortless shoots I’ve had the pleasure to work on, (Modeling is an ART, where the subject rules ) we sit down to get to know the ’Silver Fox’. A very talented Mr.R.
Eric was born in Muskegon, Michigan but was raised in Boca Raton Florida. His father was the academic, whereas his mother believed in him being a well-rounded ‘All-American’. He recalls “Mom wanted me to be a smart athlete, a positive leader with a large circle of friends and loved by his family.” He had a tumultuous relationship with school from kindergarten to high school. It was a mad passionate affair with many contradictions. “I loved to learn but I also craved to fit in. At the time ‘smart kids’ weren’t the ‘cool kids’ so there were times I played dumb. Which is dumb!” Pretty soon Eric was gaining a sense of individual style and it wasn’t long before the Fashion world found him . “I was aware of fashion and the power of presentation at a very early age. We belonged to a beach club that had VERY strict guidelines about what was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Right khaki shorts. Wrong length etc.” Eric looks thoughtful and removes his Tom Ford glasses and begins to clean them methodically. “My brother was discovered on the street. He was so pretty that some people thought he was a girl. I, on the other hand, was affectionately known as the stocky one with bad skin!” Eric’s influences are apparent, “It all starts with my family” he states affectionately. “If you feel the love and support from your family, then that becomes your major influence. Others that I find myself referencing range from Oprah Winfrey to Cary Grant, Patrick Demarchelier to Edward Enninful.
Eric moved to Los Angeles over 25 years ago to attend USC’s BFA program in Theater. “I modeled a little whilst in high school but became more focused on acting which I never would have started to do if my mom hadn’t pushed us to try as many things as possible.” Whilst still driven with a focus toward acting, Eric continued with modeling as a secondary diversion. It was always a double edged sword for him as he lacked the confidence in his looks which only came much later in life. Eric found rejection hard at times but was still determined to work in the fashion industry . “It was great when you got hired because that meant you were good looking. When you didn’t book the job, my young mind defined the rejection as, you’re ugly, you don’t fit in”
Eric Rutherford’s career followed a natural path. After quitting modeling Eric successfully began producing events all over the world ranging from opening Oprah’s school in South Africa to the grand opening of The Palm Atlantis in Dubai. Two years ago, an opportunity arose where Eric’s path lead him back to modeling . In a very ‘L.A story’ moment Eric was re-discovered at a five year olds birthday party. A casting director approached him and thought he had a great look which was ‘very hot right now’. “The difference this time for me was that I was completely comfortable with my looks, my gray hair, my deep laugh lines, etc. I was happy with who I was. My own sense of success wasn’t based on booking the job or someone liking me. So when I decided to get back into modeling, I embraced it”. On enquiring if he thought his silver hair played a role in his recent success, Eric remembers “ I started noticing more and more gray hair in ads and commercials. My friend, T.R. Pescod, had been at the forefront in this wave of ‘silver foxes’ and I cheered his success on. So, when it started happening for me, he was there to cheer me on too.”
These days Eric is as comfortable in NYC as he is at home in L.A. Spending his time equally between the two as his assignments continue to thrive. It’s no surprise that Eric has become known as a man of style and intellect. Switching from ‘subject’ in front of the camera to ‘observer’ as a writer and fashion critic behind it. “I get to experience the best of both of these spectacular cities. I embrace the differences between LA and NYC, the weather, pace, driving, etc. They are also incredibly similar too. Both have strong senses of neighborhood and where one fits with their vibe and aesthetic.”
Eric loves people, he thrives in their presence and is never more at home than when he’s discussing life, love and inspiration. This has lead seamlessly into a new direction of hosting. He loves presenting with a capital ‘L’ and enthusiastically shows me a clip from a web series, #Silver Fox Says. Here Eric gives us his fashion tips, do’s and don’ts and a heads up where to get our hands on his favorite pieces from the season. This, all wrapped up with Eric’s warmth and energy, compel us to listen and has us all believing we can’t get through the season without a pair of white jeans and a butter soft denim jacket.
With plans to be back on screen with new projects in varying stages of development, Eric is excited about the future. Looking back over the past two years I ask MR.R to share his highlights with us. “Gosh the list is long. Every day has a moment to be excited about. When I shot with Mert & Marcus for W Mag, it was epic with 40 models, 50 racks of clothes, thousands of shoes AND all done with the sense of camaraderie and team work that has stayed with me. Being Docker’s Silver Fox in their Fall campaign was fun for many reasons especially when my Mom got to see it in stores. Covering Mens Fashion Week for Departures Magazine was a huge highlight because it embodied so many loves of mine from writing to style to supporting your friends”.
There seems to be no stopping this very talented man. Apart from his effortless style and film star good looks , Eric has an adorable character. It has me wanting to know if anyone has managed to snare this Silver haired Fox. He laughs and his face contorts charmingly into a school boy grin. “If you’re asking me if I’m single, I am. I just ended a long term relationship and I am taking a moment to take a breath. I need to find out who Mr Rutherford is and what turns him on. I will say with all these dating apps, swiping left and right, at the end of the day, it is still about chemistry. The chemistry of a real person standing in front of you. Or beside you. Or next to you. Oh, I almost forgot. It must start with a kiss because that kiss will tell you all you need to know.
You can keep up with Eric’s daily antics on Instagram @mrrutherford9 and twitter @mrrutherford9 and remember #thesilverfoxsays.
David Burgoyne is a photographer and a hair M/U artist, most noted for his work with International performer Luciana. He is also a regular contributor to LEFT Magazine.
He lives in Downtown Los Angeles with his ceramist/photographer husband and 3 dogs. For more information http://www.davidtburgoyne.com, follow him on instagram @davidterryburgoyne