Defying age

Daniella Porano
January 22, 2015
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

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For the Spring/Summer 2015 season, a variety of fashion houses ushered in a series of fabulous campaigns featuring an unusual selection of models.

Dolce and Gabbana’s nonnas took center stage with black lace and beautifully adorned handbags. On their heads sat elaborate gold and red crowns. The aesthetic of the advertisements was Italian culture meets Spanish matador. Of course, there’s nothing more Italian than nonnas, and arguably nothing more fashionable than Dolce and Gabbana’s creations.

Céline’s campaign featured an ultra-chic and minimalist photograph of 80-year-old American writer Joan Didion. Her oversized glasses and simple black sweater captured the streamlined essence of the house. At Saint Laurent, 71-year-old Joni Mitchell was photographed channeling a 1970s-inspired ensemble, complete with an acoustic guitar and a black wide-brimmed hat.

Although this was certainly not the first time fashion houses used older models in their campaigns, the campaigns have been consistently visually stunning, embodying the aesthetic of the house, while also being culturally relevant. For example, for Fall/Winter 2012, Lanvin featured Jacquie Tajah Murdock, who was 82 at the time. In what can only be described as classic French elegance, Murdock stunned in a jewel-toned dark blue peplum outfit. Her untouchable glamour was the centerpiece of the campaign, which spoke to years of Lanvin’s Parisian charm.

With Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar featuring models like 83-year-old Carmen Dell’Orefice and 84-year-old Daphne Selfe, it’s clear that the industry is beginning to recognize how wonderful diversity in age representation is, both for consumers of the images and the producers of the content.

There is no doubt that representation of diversity in fashion advertisements is certainly a point of contention and a serious issue that reflects a problem in both the industry and society in general. Photoshopped images that erase signs of imperfections on seemingly flawless young models are hardly symptoms of progressive ideals of beauty. The absence of older women in fashion culture and media is part of the harmful paradigm of impossible standards of what society deems as beautiful and desirable.

The images that Céline, Dolce and Gabbana, Saint Laurent, and Lanvin have produced are critical to the inclusion of older women and key to incorporating widespread representation in fashion. The campaigns are not kitschy or campy. They aren’t presenting age as an underlying joke, or putting these women on display to criticize. The campaigns are stunning and genuinely speak to both the models and the fashion house. These women are not only beautiful, they are cultural icons.

Most importantly, these advertisements destroy the culturally engrained narrative that older women are not fashionable. Fashion does not have an expiration date.

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