Anytime the beauty industry strives for transparency we end up with what feels like a one-off marketing gimmick or bone to placate critics that call for diversity in age, race and weight. But a current trend has taken hold – one that has even lasted the cycling of fashion seasons – as older models are cropping up in fashion campaign spreads in everything from French couture, lingerie and even cosmetics of the non anti-wrinkling variety.
Just after it was announced that NARS cosmetics chose 68-year-old British Actress Charlotte Rampling for their new campaign, Marc Jacobs unveiled a preview of the equally bewitching, 64-year old Jessica Lange for his first foray into cosmetics for his range at Sephora. For an entire industry predicated on preserving youth, it was a bold move for these two beauty giants to handpick these sexagenarians.
This is not Andie MacDowell touting the wonders of Revitalift or your grandmother’s Borghese catalogs, but huge campaigns for chubby lip pencils and liquid eyeliner. These brands knew what they were doing, as both women were stunners in their day and remain so, but these iconic actresses aren’t the only mature models who are picking up a paycheck. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen tapped the famed stylist and creator of cult-favorite wonder oil, Linda Rodin, to star in their pre-fall 2014 The Row lookbook, and she also appeared in Karen Walker’s spring 2013 eyewear campaign.
While storied houses like Lanvin and Bulgari have featured older models in the past, perhaps the most surprising retailer to jump on the AARP bandwagon was American Apparel. Having exhausted other avenues of shock value through the use of merkins and porn stars, the controversial basics company scouted the 62-year-old Jacky O’Shaughnessy to be their lingerie model the same way many of her younger contemporaries were – on the street, smoking a cigarette.
In the case of all of these brands, more companies are realizing that they’ve been ignoring a large – and very wealthy – segment of the population as the baby boomers continue to outspend any other generation. Contrary to Hollywood standards, women over 65 are no longer considered “over the hill,” and are leading healthy, active and socially stimulating lives. They’re beating you at Bikram yoga, protecting their complexions properly with sunscreen and they have the funds to make themselves up in designer lipsticks and the latest runway trends.
Part of this cultural shift can be attributed to the wildly popular blog, Advanced Style, which catalogs the sartorial hits of the senior set. Started in 2008 by Ari Seth Cohen, he even helped to cast the older models in the Lanvin campaign.
In a world that seems to revolve around the fickle tastes of millenials, it’s refreshing to see iconic beauty that represents something to strive for – elegance at any age. The expiration date on a modeling career used to peak at 19, but if the new “It” girls can be over 30, and the Catherine Deneuves and Isabella Rossellinis of the world continue to smolder until retirement, we’ll keep buying what they’re selling.