The Rise of Older Women as Models

Posted by Meghan Orner on April 13, 2015

The Rise of Older Women as Models

With the change of seasons comes many things to look forward to: a change in weather, a change in scenery, and for many, a new season brings a change in fashion. We all know the fashion industry to be filled with young, slim, and beautiful models, but who says you have to be young and beautiful to create buzz on the runway? With high-end fashion spring campaigns underway, a recent article explores why designers are increasingly turning towards older women to showcase their designs.

“In with the Old”

While young models lit up the runway during the 2015 New York Fashion Week, older women had spotlights of their own modeling in recent advertisements, and some of them are familiar names. 80-year-old author Joan Didion modeled for the French luxury brand Celine. As the winner of the 2005 National Book Award for Nonfiction, Didion is the author of critically acclaimed works, such as “The Year of Magical Thinking” and “Slouching Towards Bethlehem.”

An advertisement from the French designer line Saint Laurent featured 71-year-old singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Mitchell is responsible for writing and singing classic songs like “Big Yellow Taxi” and “River.”

Some of the models were not new to the fashion industry, however. Fashion icon Iris Apfel is 93 years old, but that didn’t stop her from modeling for both jewelry designer Alexis Bittar and Kate Spade this season.   

This is not the first year older models have earned their place among high-end fashion and beauty retailers. In previous years, actresses such as Charlotte Rampling, Jessica Lange and Catherine Deneuve have modeled for companies like Nars, Marc Jacobs Beauty and Louis Vuitton when they were all above the age of 60.

Modeling for advertisements has not become the only outlet for older women. As the world’s largest cosmetics company, L’Oreal recently signed 65-year-old Lesley Lawson, who is more commonly known as the 1960s icon with the nickname Twiggy, along with 69-year-old actress Helen Mirren. Other L’Oreal spokeswomen include Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda.

“Out with the New”

Especially in today’s society, we can all tend to be ‘youth-obsessed,’ which is one reason why these photos of older models quickly spread online. For years, the idea that everyone needs to have the “perfect body size” has been known to have drastically negative effects on adolescent girls, but a study has shown that women of any age become less satisfied with their bodies after viewing magazines filled with images of models for just three minutes.

What’s important to remember is that these magazines are often filled with unrealistic images of models. These airbrushed images are in sharp contrast to these honest and groundbreaking advertisements featuring older models.

So why exactly are these multiple high-end fashion companies turning to older women to model their designs? As Barney’s creative director Dennis Freedman said in a recent article, “What we’re trying to say is this: ‘You have a long life and this life is a rich life, and this life doesn’t end at 25.’”  

Whether you’re strutting down a runway or simply modeling clothes in a dressing room, remember to bring your confidence into every aspect of your life and love your body! 


TAGS: older models