Fashion designers are switching things up as the focus now seems to fall on maturity and style, rather than youth and freshness, when choosing a new campaign face. But is it all a little fake?
The new faces of fashion are undoubtedly fresh. Yet, they are very different than those models we’ve become accustomed to seeing in our fashion and beauty ads over the years. You know, those young ones that are barely a day over 16, look nothing like you and only come in wrinkle and fat free packages? Yes those ones.
The new ‘fresh-faced’ models are over the age of 65. They are wrinkled and have obtained massive personal successes outside the fashion and beauty industry. They are the new ‘It’ girls of fashion, and everyone’s talking about them.
Image source: Céline
A while ago, 80-year-old America author and journalist, Joan Didion was revealed to be the latest face of fashion brand, Céline. Clad in black, the stylish older woman is seen seated on a floral couch (much like the one your grandmother owns), wearing larger than life black shades and a gold pendant. It’s undeniably cool.
An Internet frenzy ensued shortly after the ad was released. This proved to me that the trend of using older women in fashion and beauty campaign ads might prove to be anything but fleeting.
Image: Saint Laurent
A 71-year-old Joni Mitchell surprised everyone when she was seen in an ad series for Saint Laurent late last year; and actresses Helen Mirren (69) and Jessica Lange (65) made headlines when they were chosen to star in L’Oreal Paris and Marc Jacobs ads, respectively.
Image: Dolce & Gabbana
Italian fashion house, Dolce & Gabbana, who is known for their sultry, sexy Mediterranean ad campaigns featuring young, supple models have also come to the party. Their most recent advertising campaign celebrates a trio of elderly ladies showcasing spring’s latest accessory styles in black, red and gold.
The very latest fashion designers to use older models to sell their (incredibly overpriced and exclusive) designer goods, is New York-based jeweller, Alexis Bittar. His Instagram-launched ad campaign (is there any other way these days?) features one of my all-time favourite fashionistas: a 93-year-old Iris Apfel, alongside wunderkind child blogger and now Rookie online mag editor, the 19 years of age, Tavi Gevinson.
Now to the question of why?
Advertisements are there to sell you something, be it an image, an idea or a lifestyle. What are they selling; as I am sure not many hip, youngsters want to buy into being older – and they are the ones shopping.
Is it the ‘legend factor’? Have we finally come to a point where substance is more important than form? Or is it merely a gimmick used by designers to get the media and the public’s attention? As much as I’d wish for the former, my bets are on the latter.
In an article by Tim Teeman for The Daily Beast, he discusses Hadley Freeman’s article in The Guardian where she calls Joan Didion for Céline into question. “It’s depressing to see your idols used to sell expensive clothes,” she says.
Teeman agrees with Freeman as he argues that these are respected women. Mitchell and Didion are known as those one of a kind women, who above all, represent a unique voice, style and have fought against conformity their whole lives. They challenged the status quo.
He argues that they have (like most of us) been sucked in by the fashion industry. Ultimately, to him, they have sold their souls in a bid to sell more books and albums. True? Perhaps. But a girl’s got to eat!
I think these women are used by the fashion industry to present something new to us. This something new has, however, been borrowed, blued and repurposed to fit in with the fashion industry’s needs. Their need to sell.
They ‘celebrate’ these legendary women. But it’s not genuine. It’s a gimmick that attracts attention to them, because it’s different. It has the ‘aww’ factor, as ‘this has never been done before’.
The ads are beautiful, moving and yes, something new.
But selling the idea of youth will never get old.