1990s supermodel Linda Evangelista, age 49, stars in Dolce Gabbana’s new foundation ad campaign preview. Actress Charlotte Rampling, 68, is a model in cosmetic brand NARS’ recent campaign. And 65-year-old Jessica Lange, when she’s not burning up the screen as bad witch supreme Fiona Goode on FX’s “American Horror Story," smolders as the new face of Marc Jacobs beauty. The fashion industry has been under fire for using 14-year-old models on the runway, but New York Magazine recently noted that there were many over-30 models on the runways in New York, Milan, Paris and London this season -- 10 alone for one Lanvin show.
Has fashion and beauty evolved to include older faces, or, as LA Times suggests, is it really savvy marketing to put “familiar faces” in ads because “[B]oomers want to see someone they relate to”?
Beauty and fashion blogger Annie Tomlin, former beauty director of PopSugar and Refinery29 and a global fashion week regular, told International Business Times that although the use of older models is a “step in the right direction,” it’s not as if the runways are abounding in diversity. “I don't think fashion will ever end its love affair with youth. A 14-year-old walked Prada, after all, most of the models are still quite young, and this is an industry in which most models are considered over the hill at 22 years old!”
Among the 20-plus models over 30 who walked the runways this season, a few earlier-era supermodels – Naomi Campbell (44), Amber Valletta (40) and Gisele Bundchen (34) – were familiar faces, which might be precisely the point. They’ve reached celebrity status. “Has Kate Moss ever been more famous than she is today? These models are names,” said Tomlin, “and there's also a sense that the supermodel era was more exciting. Most people don't know who Ondria Hardin is, even though she's a big name in fashion and has shot big campaigns like Chanel. But if you put Naomi out there, everybody knows her.”
For designer Alber Elbaz of Lanvin, who had 10 over-30 models walk his runway this past season, having models over 30 is part of his brand as a designer who loves women as they are. “I do think it's telling when we see who books these more mature models,” said Tomlin. “Lanvin's Elbaz is considered a man whose designs flatter women, even those of us who aren't 5 feet 10 inches and 110 pounds — so it's telling that he presents 30-plus women as beautiful. It suggests, wisely, that beauty isn't only about youth.”