More luxury brands are naming older women like Twiggy, Iris Apfel, and Joan Didion as their faces.
America’s next top model is wrinkled — not Photoshopped.
Women in their 60s, 70s and even their 90s are snapping up high-fashion ad campaigns.
L’Oreal just named Swinging Sixties supermodel Twiggy as the U.K. ambassador for its “Professionnel” salon line.
Iris Apfel and Tavi Gevinson in Alexis Bittar’s Spring Campaign.
The award-winning writer channels Anna Wintour in the ad, with her mod, oversized black sunglasses and silvery bob paired with a chic black sweater.
And fellow Paris powerhouse Saint Laurent lined up folk music legend Joni Mitchell, 71, for its Music Project campaign. The Grammy winner stuns in a series of black-and-white shots, taken in her Bel Air home, which show her strumming a guitar with her lustrous white hair draping goddess-like over her designer tunic and leather cape from the brand’s Folk collection.
She also posed in V magazine last week, styled by Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane. She was shot in black and white once more, smoking a cigarette, her wrinkles celebrated instead of Photoshopped.
And New York jewelry designer Alexis Bittar features 93-year-old Iris Apfel in his spring 2015 campaign — and she looks fresh as a daisy in a print blazer pinned with oversized flowers that Carrie Bradshaw would love. She also sports candy-apple red eyeglass frames.
Joni Mitchell, 71, in a Saint Laurent advertisement.
Bittar previously worked with “Dynasty” star Joan Collins and Lauren Hutton in 2010, when they were in their 60s and 70s.
Industry insiders rave that ditching the digital retouching to love every laugh line and pair of crow’s feet is a refreshing change of face.
“High fashion is supposed to excite and motivate,” says celebrity stylist Sophie Lopez. “It’s supposed to be aspirational. What could be more inspiring than these women? I would love to see more of this, and more diversity in the fashion/beauty industry in general.”
Stylist and beauty expert Mary Alice Stephenson is also invigorated by seeing ads filled with accomplished women, not just another bland pretty face.
Music Issue of V Magazine, on newsstands now, features a rare interview with Joni Mitchell.
“If I see another 20-year-old model calling herself an ‘angel’ … ugh,” says Stephenson, founder of Glam4Good.com. “It’s far more interesting to see women that have actually earned their wings, and have something to say about life.”
L’Oreal broke ground in the anti-aging movement years ago by celebrating women of a certain age, including Andie MacDowell (56), Diane Keaton (69) and, most recently, Helen Mirren, 69.
The stunning Helen Mirren
And heroines such as Didion and Mitchell make perfect cover — and role — models in the age of women’s empowerment.
“As much as this is about age, it’s important to recognize that these women chosen are hugely accomplished and respected women,” says Lopez. “These ads are more to me than the physical; it’s about what these ladies represent.”
But don’t overlook the silver dollar. Advertising experts say it also makes sense to target the maturing, financially established Baby Boomers — who have earned the luxury to buy a $4,800 Saint Laurent tunic — as well as the Millennials who could find Mitchell and Didion hip counters to Kendall Jenner.
“These fashion-forward brands and beauty brands are being incredibly smart by bringing in these icons, who are appealing directly to people in their 60s, 70s and 80s,” says branding expert Mark Zablow, CEO of Cogent Entertainment Marketing. “Using a celebrity in her 20s, 30s and 40s doesn’t tug on their heartstrings the same way.”
The question is whether reverse ageism will last in an industry with a long history of Photoshopping every wrinkle and dimple. The ugly truth is that some of these campaigns are calculated to capture the public’s attention, rather than reflect any real change of heart.
“I wish I could say this was more than superficial ‘senior shock value,’ but this is an industry that’s been relying on youth to sell their clothes for a very long time,” says Stephenson. “But that’s not the only formula that works nowadays, so they’re frantically grasping at the extremes.”
Frantically? Consider this: The Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2015 collection features three Italian grandmothers in tiaras. Stephenson sees that as more of a gimmick than a game-changer.
“I salute Saint Laurent and Celine for spotlighting these women, and I hope other brands will follow suit,” she says. “Moving forward, I hope we see old women with young women, women of all ages, mixing it up in campaigns, to show that women are beautiful at any age.”
By: Nicole Lyn Pesce