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Forget Gangnam style; Chinese farmer does 'Grandpa style'

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
updated 8:12 AM EST, Thu November 22, 2012
Liu Qiangping spent decades working as a farmer in Hengyang, Hunan province, before turning his hand to modeling for his granddaughter's online fashion business. He's 72. Liu Qiangping spent decades working as a farmer in Hengyang, Hunan province, before turning his hand to modeling for his granddaughter's online fashion business. He's 72.
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China's model grandfather
China's model grandfather
China's model grandfather
China's model grandfather
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A 72-year-old grandfather has become an Internet hit after modeling young fashion
  • Liu Qianping appears on China's version of eBay, wearing short skirts and tights
  • His granddaughter invited him to visit her, and he tried on a hot pink cloak
  • Their photos online have attracted a lot of talk on social media

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Wearing aviator sunglasses and a selection of thigh-high tights and frilly skirts, 72-year-old Liu Qianping has caused quite a stir in China.

In the past few weeks, images of the former farmer from Hunan province have appeared on Taobao, the Chinese version of eBay, marketing clothes for Yecoo, a business set up by his granddaughter Lv Ting and four of her friends.

Lv told CNN she invited her grandfather to visit her in the southern province of Guangzhou earlier this month, and while unpacking boxes of clothes to sell, he pulled out -- and slipped on -- a hot pink cloak.

Struck by how well he wore it, a friend assembled some amateur lighting and starting taking photos that were later posted online.

There's Liu in a white tights, a pink skirt and a fur-lined red polka dot coat. In other images, he's posing demurely in bright green leggings, clutching a handbag and wearing a layered pink shawl. Sometime he wears a wig, sometimes not, but the aviator glasses are always present.

My grandfather is happier than before, he enjoys being interviewed. He calls our relatives at our hometown about his experiences here in the city.
Lv Ting

Liu has attracted a lot of attention on Weibo, China's version of Twitter.

"That's a good example of 'Enjoying life at the moment.' The old man enjoys it. And it's making me happy too!" writes one user, whose handle translates to "Kite walking on the ground."

Aging stylishly, online and in the streets

@S_ziming writes: "I love this grandpa! And I hope life for all elderly people can be as interesting and colorful."

But others aren't so sure: "Is he crazy, being weird and mess around like this?"

@GuYue adds: "Neither fish nor fowl, inappropriate."

Lv told CNN that her grandfather is loving the attention.

"My grandfather is happier than before, he enjoys being interviewed; he calls our relatives at our hometown about his experiences here in the city," she said.

Liu's fame has also translated into higher sales for the fledgling company, which only launched in May.

Sales have surged fivefold since his image appeared on the site, an unforeseen benefit according to Lv, who says the photos were just taken for fun.

"I wasn't intended to raise the sales. It's just for fun, for both my grandfather and me. I'm surprised that this went viral online," she said.

Lv said she had no intention of hiring any other "older" models. And no, he wasn't paid.

The range of clothes Liu models has now been dubbed "Grandpa style."

And they'll take more photos, Lv says, as long as Liu enjoys it.

When fashion and reality collide

CNN's CY Xu and Dayu Zhang contributed to this report.

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