(Changes name of granddaughter on second reference to Lu,
GUANGZHOU, China Nov 26 Liu Qianping was
visiting his 24-year-old granddaughter in the southern Chinese
city of Guangzhou recently when the women's clothes the aspiring
fashion entrepreneur was packing into boxes caught his eye.
His visit came as the model that granddaughter Lu Ting and
four friends had booked for a photo shoot to promote their
online fashion business suddenly cancelled, dealing a setback to
their new venture.
But Liu, a 72-year-old former farmer visiting to escape the
chilly winter of central Hunan province, stepped in to help.
"I walked into the room and saw them packing up some clothes
and I thought they looked quite interesting and quite cute," Liu
"So I tried on a jacket and they found it really funny, and
I thought it was quite funny. So they asked if they could take
pictures of me and post them on the Internet to sell the
clothes. And I said, 'why not?'."
It was at that time two weeks ago that a star was born.
Liu, known affectionately as "MaDiGaGa" - funny elderly - is
now one of China's most recognised models.
Delighted with his new fame, Liu says he now sometimes looks
at fashion programmes on television for ideas on how to pose but
generally relies on Lu's team for direction.
He does, however, have his own opinions on styling.
"He will tell us which items should be stronger and what
should be improved," Lu said.
"He really likes bright, contrasting colours while I prefer
more tone-on-tone combinations. So he gives lots of advice when
we try different combinations, so we have some very different
Since her grandfather became involved, visits to their
online site have increased four-fold and continue to rise.
Liu, who travelled to Shanghai with his daughter for the
first time last week after they were invited to appear on
television, said he had been approached by other companies to
model for them but had turned them down.
"I never dreamed of lucky things like these happening to me.
Now, my name has spread to everywhere in the country," he said.
Lu has been criticised on the Internet and accused of using
her grandfather, but he insists the experience has put a spring
in his step and she says they are now closer than ever.
"We have no firm plans on how long we will continue, it
depends on my grandfather," she said. "If he is happy and his
health is fine, we will keep using him as our model."
(Reporting by Stefanie McIntyre, editing by Elaine Lies and
Anne Marie Roantree)