Thursday 27 February 2014

In Praise of the Older Model

If your face is your fortune, then how do you cope as you get older?  Do you try and put time on hold, doing whatever it takes to hang on to the appearance of youth (and thus ironically often losing your looks) or do you embrace your advancing years and accept the changes that ageing inevitably brings? We are surrounded by the cult of youth, bombarded daily with images of bright young things and often made to feel that growing older is something for women to be ashamed of. Since when did 'ageing' become such a dirty word?

85 year old Daphne Selfe Photo: El Pais

I wrote a post last year in celebration of the stylish over 50's and I'm happy to say that these women - Tilda Swinton, Kristin Scott Thomas and Charlotte Rampling among them, are embracing the ageing process gracefully and stylishly and still looking like, well, themselves.

Kristin Scott Thomas Photo: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

So I was delighted to read that 68 year old Rampling has been chosen to be the face of the new Nars campaign, launching in September to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the brand. La Legende (as she is known in France) will appear in a “black and white portrait style image” shot by founder and creative director François Nars.  “She is a natural beauty that feels strong, yet relatable,” he told WWD. Nars went on to say Rampling’s “strength of character” and artistic talents make her a perfect fit for the brand. “I remember Dirk Bogarde referencing Charlotte’s ‘fabled look’ because of the combination of her beauty and withering gaze,” he said. “This is what makes her an endlessly watchable mystery.”

Charlotte Rampling Photo: James Macauley for The Guardian

Rampling herself has said "I know the power of my look, of who I am." She remains for me the epitome of the stylish and supremely sexy older woman, so bravo François Nars.

Jessica Lange @MarcJacobsIntl

And then hot on the heels of this news comes the announcement that 64 year old Jessica Lange is to be the new face of Marc Jacobs Beauty with a campaign shot by David Sims - good on her.  Catherine Deneuve (somewhat heavily airbrushed I wager), can currently be seen fronting Marc Jacob's last campaign for Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood is featuring 80's model and musician Leslie Winer (no Photoshopping for Dame Viv and Juergen) in her current 2013/14 ads, and Linda Rodin is modelling for J. Crew and Karen Walker Eyewear among others. As Anne Karpf asked in The Guardian last weekend - are the times really a changing and is the older model here to stay?

Catherine Deneuve Photo: Steven Meisel

Leslie Winer for Vivienne Westwood Photo: Juergen Teller

It would be nice to think the answer is yes and we will be seeing more of these beautiful older women in all their guises gracing the pages of magazines and advertising high end fashion and luxury brands that at the moment are the domain of the young, or George Clooney. This current wave of mature models is a very welcome one but in truth people are still scared of seeing age in all its glory, and so the advertisers pander to this fear, with only the individualists and innovators prepared to buck the trend.

Linda Rodin for J. Crew

Linda Rodin for Karen Walker Eyewear Photo: Ari Seth

Whilst English Gent is happily sliding into Silver Fox-dom and doesn't give ageing a second thought, I'm sure I spend way too much time wondering whether Co-Q10 supplements and the like are going to improve my wrinkles, but I am learning to love them, as they are a part of me.  I read a great quote from Penelope Cruz talking about her grandmothers and she said how much she loved their faces as "they had so much life, history and experience. Their faces were like beautiful poems." Seeing, showcasing and embracing that poetry is surely what beauty, at any age, is all about.

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