She's fierce, she's fabulous, she's 95: How Erni Stollberg became an Instagram star
Published Monday, May 1, 2017 1:18PM EDT
Age ain't nothing but a number for Ernestine Stollberg, the 95-year-old woman who has gone viral as an Instagram model for an Austrian fashion boutique.
The Park fashion shop started using "Erni" to show off its wares last year, and since then, the Vienna-based store has added more than 16,000 followers on Instagram. Erni now appears on Park's Instagram account on a near-daily basis, sporting all the shop's latest outfits and avant-garde fashions.
"She's just really great in front of the camera," Markus Strasser, co-founder and stylist at Park, told CTVNews.ca by phone. Strasser says fun has been the key element of his photoshoots with Erni, and they never let her age limit their creativity.
"We don't think about how you would best dress a 95-year-old," he said. "I just put everything on her. I even put the men's clothes on her."
He suggests the beauty of using Erni as a model is that she shows fashion can look good on anyone, regardless of age.
It may seem like Erni is peaking late in her career, but the nonagenarian is no stranger to the spotlight. Strasser says Erni was a revue dancer in 1930s Austria, before the start of the Second World War.
Strasser credits Erni's dancing experience with her comfort in front of the camera. "She understands each look and kind of performs in the right way for it," he said.
Strasser says Erni has been extremely popular with customers, and that she's been turning heads in the fashion world as well. Last March, for instance, Strasser says people were talking about Erni at Paris Fashion Week. "A lot of people already knew about it in the fashion world," he said.
Erni has since been covered in Vogue and several other fashion industry publications.
But despite all the popularity and business she's bringing to the store, Strasser says his work with Erni is all about friendship, not advertising.
"It's just about our relationship, because we've known each other for years now, and she trusts me," he said. "She performs that well because she believes in me as a friend."
Strasser says he first met Erni three years ago, as someone he occasionally ran into at the coffee shop around the corner from his store. But when Strasser bought a puppy, Erni started visiting the store often to play with the animal. Eventually, Erni was spending all day at the store.
"She kind of moved into the shop with the puppy," he said.
However, it wasn't until last year that Strasser decided to try using Erni in a photo shoot, after learning more about her history. "We realized in some of her family pictures that she always looked fantastic, and she used to be a dancer," he said.
Now, after picking up a sizable Instagram following, Strasser says he and Erni are just enjoying the ride.
"We're just having a lot of fun together," he said.