Fashion Says to Hell with Ageism
They don’t call them the golden years for nothing
I remember very clearly sitting down with Lynn Dell, one of the many octogenarian style champions that Ari Cohen has galvanized through his blog, Advanced Style, and thinking to myself: this is youth.
It seems that lately, fashion has had a similarly visceral if not contentious reaction to the textbook definition of the anterior term and the true paladins of a subindustry within fashion: modeling, which is currently one chiefly run by fresh — faced and aged — indwellers.
Jessica Lange, age 64, recently became the face of Marc Jacobs beauty. This comes almost a year after her having appeared in an editorial spread wearing the anterior for Love Magazine and separate news of Jacky O’Shaughnessy, 62, modeling for American Apparel.
Catherine Deneuve, 70, appeared in Jacobs’ last campaign for Louis Vuitton. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen used Linda Rodin, 65, in their pre-fall lookbook for The Row while Leslie Wiener, 60, was the subject of Vivienne Westwood’s SS14 ad campaign shot by Juergen Teller. Kristen McMenamy, 46, fancied herself the subject of a Tim Walker spread for W Magazine in December 2013, which was immediately followed by participation in Balenciaga’s SS13 campaign.
She also walked Chanel’s Resort runway in 2012.
Daphne Selfe, 86, just covered S Moda, a Condé Nast publication based in Spain and Jan De Villeneuve, 69, modeled for Moda Operandi last year in collaboration with their participation in The Met Ball. Carmen Dell’Orefice, 82, landed her own spread in Vogue Italia last July and most recently, last week in Paris, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Rick Owens used not the pretty young things we’ve grown accustomed to watch traipse down runways for their shows but rather, they used “real women,” with their impeccable flaws and all.
The high contingent of older female models appearing in campaigns across the verticals of both fashion and beauty is refreshing. It finally adheres to an old tenet of the industry — that style transcends age — but the involvement does not come without a little bit of skepticism.
For a decent chunk of the fashion engagement, there seem to be ulterior motives that are tethered to the concept of shock value and spectacle; you see an 80-year-old woman on a runway and yes, it’s stimulating, but it’s also a point of conversation.
It’s really where beauty campaigns are concerned that you can find the most value in the recent influx of well-seasoned queens to meaningfully liter the stratosphere.
Why? Because an older woman, who has gracefully aged and proudly boasts the badge of time well endured in the form of subtle wrinkles, maintains the ability to broaden a brand’s appeal, cornering an older clientele while manufacturing a clause of highly attainable aspiration (one that says, to get older is beautiful) for a younger consumer.
This seems like something far more feasible to aspire toward when considering the insurmountable battle against gravity, but then again, maybe I’m wrong. Only your comments can tell — how do you feel about locating, exploiting and celebrating the nuances of youth and beauty, ones that are de rigeur, in advanced age?
-Leandra Medine and Charlotte Fassler