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The rise of the ‘older’ model? The cunning tricks of the fashion world explained.

Stella Tennant- 40 for Chanel


Lauren Hutton-67 years old


According to an intriguing article out of this weekend’s UK Telegraph, fashion designers are turning to name brand models of yesteryear in their campaigns, thus creating a situation whereby older models are suddenly being (re)celebrated. What ought to also be mentioned is the fashion industry is only willing to use those older models who are easily recognized, have some sort of cache and are perceived to have brand value. Which is to say by virtue of their celebrated cultural status and resurrected legacy (the way certain trends from the 80’s and 90’s have been re interpreted and introduced ) those individuals serve to add a kind of extended cache to the designer who is clever enough to cast them and clever enough to realize that nothing sells better than a family name or a long standing persona.

To use an unknown outright older model, although aesthetically pleasing(some would argue) and something the fashion industry is implicitly trying to do to redeem itself  would be tantamount to suicide given the industry’s insistence on youth and the idea of eternity. After all the whole idea of fashion is built on its celebration of the ingenue and to suddenly adopt a position that embraces the older woman is heresy and cynical at best.

When it comes down to it- championing an older woman in the fashion industry only comes with the caveat if she has spent the greater part of her youth being celebrated for her beauty. To suddenly arrive as an unknown and start strutting the catwalks or gracing Vogue’s cover –  (although revolutionary and only then truly celebrating the older woman unconditionally) is too much for most editors and designers to bear, never mind the fact that most people who consume fashion are women from the ages of 18-35.

Elle McPherson and Kristen McMenamy




  1. In modeling an older model, aka mature aged model is no new news, mature models are working right now and have for many many years it’s just the media never talks about the print modeling world. Which is funny because most models are not fashion models, fashion models are a very small percent of the modeling world/business. Older models are modeling everything already from jewelry, to home goods, travel ads, skincare, in car commercials, older models retirement age are in demand and have been for some time. Fashion might be so concerned over height, measurements, wrinkles, but the print modeling world isn’t as narrow minded. The advertising world hires many models of all types for campaigns each year. They are not all giraffe tall or young. Especially now more than ever, when a 40 year old every five minutes having a baby or twins, in ten years these moms will be needing a vacation and who will be marketing to them, many many retail brands and the models in these ads won’t be teens. You might think models are only young and that modeling starts when you are 16-18 and that modeling is just fashion, you are wrong. Most models are actually older than you might think. Watch commercials, look at print ads in lifestyle magazines.Alot of it comes down to products that are out there and marketing. Despite the recession: Who is shopping. Who buys things? Who is more likely to purchase a handbag, a couch, a car, a hair product, a skincare product? An Adult. An older female. There are so many more products for adults. Therefore adult models are going to be working more to model these products in commercials and print ads. Sure fashion might be considered finally up to speed with the whole “mature model” thing, but mature models have been modeling already for many years. ~Isobella

  2. Fashion should have been always all along using models of all types, the five foot- four inch tall consumer doesn’t relate to a fashion model and who really wants to hem a pait of pants 8 inches? Which is why if baffles me why tall is more marketable in fashion?? I think the consumer can handle the reality…hell we watch reality TV, but when it comes to how retail and fashion brands market themselves, they seem to be a scared to show a more real looking model, “must look like a bitch or starved”…what about a more relatable model… why aren’t more brands, other than United Colors of Benetton, showing more diverse models? WTF.

  3. Can’t help but draw a parallel to the Music Industry’s new reliance on established,
    old “Classic ” Artists .

    The Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. archival works are being re-mixed, re-hashed, repackaged & re-released mainly because the measurable market for them is already in place, and the new system makes establishing new artists daunting.

    Advertising is recycling & rehashing images of the Beatles, etc, instead of creating new stars.

    We are going downhill artistically, and relying on salvaging celebrities & reminders from our economic heyday in the 70s.

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