by Stephanie Christofferson
Fashion is an art that constantly lives in the future. Even as the snow melts away to reveal spring in February and March, young models strut the catwalks at fashion week wearing next fall’s looks. Muses and models start working as preteens, and feel like old ladies by the time they hit 30. But fashion’s relationship with age might be shifting. While there is nothing better than snagging the latest pretty young thing for a campaign, there is something to be said for going in the opposite direction. After all, most designers are over 40, and most women who have the income to support a couture-wearing lifestyle have a few more years of maturity under their belts. While selling youth (and sex) is always a safe tactic, using the juxtaposition of age may appeal more to the target consumer. At the same time, we are currently seeing many fashion and culture icons progress into old age with elegance and beauty. Using older celebrities as the face of a brand not only communicates with wealthy older women, it pays homage to a legacy of strong, beautiful women among the first to assert themselves as dominant female powers in pop culture. Céline’s 2015 campaign featured feminist author Joan Didion; Dolce & Gabbana’s spring 2015 ad campaign featured grandmothers; Yves Saint Laurent used Joni Mitchell in a recent campaign; and Julia Roberts is the new face of Givenchy. Blogging isn’t immune – Ari Seth Cohen’s blog, Advanced Style, is growing in popularity within the digital fashion community.
Does this change in tactic represent a shift in the norm, or is it a smart marketing tactic to create distinction and grab the attention of readers idly flipping through magazines? What’s clear is that while muses may be changing in age, the clothes heading down the runway are still overwhelmingly skewed towards a particular type of woman, and that woman is young, tall, and thin. Trying to involve a higher income demographic by using older muses is an intelligent tactic by luxury brands; but is it really possible to get a 20-year-old and a 70-year-old wearing the same outfit?