In a world dominated by 20ish-year-olds like Gigi and Bella Hadid, it is safe to say that youth is valuable currency. But this rule is not absolute. Wittily dubbed as the “greynnaisance,” the more mature set is welcomed by the fashion industry with open arms.
Most industry people single out the Céline advertisement from 2015 as a tipping point of the movement. It featured Joan Didion, a well-respected writer who was in her 80s at the time, in oversized dark sunglasses.
IMAGE Courtesy of Celine
It could have been written as a one-off thing, except that it was promptly followed by Joni Mitchell in a Saint Laurent campaign.
IMAGE Courtesy of Saint Laurent
Since then, the momentum has shown no signs of slowing down. Last year, Lauren Hutton, 72, modeled for Calvin Klein.
IMAGE Courtesy of Calvin Klein
And who can forget the Versace Spring 2018 presentation when Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and Claudia Schiffer closed the show?
Next Gen Influencers
Even in platforms usually associated with millennials, the older generation is making an impact. Baddie Winkle, an octogenarian with a penchant for neons and fur, is killing it on Instagram. She has 3.5 million followers and has worked on a campaign with the brand Missguided.
She’s no slouch on Instagram either. Her numbers currently sit at a little over half a million. She is a frequent collaborator with brands ranging from Valentino to Uniqlo. She also signed with ELITE Model Management last year.
Is this a fad? Or will it go the way of mullet skirts and socks with heels? Seen everywhere, only to fizzle out. One definite sign that this is no mere passing trend is that there are changes happening within the fashion industry itself.
For one thing, modeling agencies are now signing older models. An interesting example is Maye Musk, the 69-year-old mother of Elon Musk. (Yes, that Elon Musk.) She is signed under IMG and has appeared on various magazines and was also named a CoverGirl Ambassador. In fact, one modeling agency, Oldushka, specializes in older models and will not sign anyone under the age of 45.
IMAGE Courtesy of CoverGirl
Fashion has a strange relationship with age. Designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Diane von Fürstenberg were able to establish their pedigrees because of long, long careers. Words like “classic” or “timeless,” implying longevity, are often considered the pinnacle of good taste.
On the other hand, there are instances where age has directly impacted careers. Isabella Rossellini was vocal about her age—43 at the time—being a factor in being let go by Lancôme. Ironically, they re-hired her 25 years later to shoot a campaign for them when she was in her 60s.
IMAGE Courtesy of Lancome
IMAGE Courtesy of Lancome
Ageism, or the prejudice against someone based on their age, still has a long way before being fully addressed in the fashion industry. But, that there are steps in the right direction cannot be denied. Working models like Daphne Selfe, 89, and fashion icons like Iris Apfel, born in 1921, are showing that age really does not matter. After all, even the venerable Coco Chanel said so herself: “After 40, nobody is young, but one can be irresistible at any age.”