Creative Review’s Eliza Williams is cautiously skeptical of the “cool older women” trend appearing in fashion campaigns recently. Is it possible that in the same universe where 37-year-old Maggie Gyllenhaal has been declared “too old,” the advertising industry has suddenly accepted that a woman’s natural life cycle can often extend past adolescence?
Before grown-up women can get too comfortable with the idea of being visible and culturally relevant, the bomb is dropped: Fleur Brady, cofounder of Mrs Robinson, a modeling agency specializing in “the classic woman,” reveals that the interest in older female models comes from the younger generation, which finds older people “interesting,” and these ads are really directed at a youth demographic. What could be viewed as a shift in society’s perception of adult women might just be the ultimate cynical marketing move: Images of women embodying confidence, wisdom, maturity, strength, and independence are the latest fad appropriated by post-ironic, post-authentic, post-hipster millennials to fill their Pinterest boards.
Joan Didion posing for Céline especially doesn’t pass the bullshit detector of BBH London’s Rosie Arnold. The Céline ad in particular reads to her as an attention-grab to draw in 20-somethings, which only further affirms that women who insist on living past the age of 40 aren’t even considered a viable demographic worthy of marketing to. Those women who haven’t ceased to exist are still at a loss for sources of inspiration and affirmation in their choices of dress, adornment, and personal style, left to make choices about how to present themselves genuinely to a world that pretends not to see them.