Enjoy a 15% discount on all purchases until the 31st of March 2023 using the promo code EOFWEB22 at check out!

Luxury and Fashion Our global industry experts explore the key trends shaping consumer preferences that drive fashion and luxury, using timely insights to stay one step ahead of the latest innovations and business strategies.

Why Are Older Models Staring at You on Instagram and in Glossy Magazines?

Daphne Kasriel-Alexander Profile Picture
Daphne Kasriel-Alexander Bio

The appearance of more mature female models in a slew of recent high profile ad campaigns, from esteemed writer Joan Didion (80) in Célene ads to singing icon Joni Mitchell (71) in Saint Laurent to the trio of  Italian ‘nonnas’ in the recent Dolce & Gabbana ads is fascinating. Yes, on one hand, this is just the latest expression of the fashion industry’s need to shock, and some criticise these ads for presenting a rose-tinted picture of old age and just extending the objectification of women. But these thought-provoking faces reflect broader cultural trends such as the growing emphasis on the consumption of experiences and a more caring zeitgeist, as well as the growing recognition of an ageing world, and are more than a fad.

No ageing gracefully!

By using these mature models, brands are really saluting the ageless aspirations of baby boomers who refuse to ‘age gracefully’, with many wanting and needing to stay working for longer.  Brands, particularly the luxury brands engaging these older models in their ad campaigns, are aware that many boomers, the oldest just hitting traditional retirement age, are also quite comfortably off, much more so than Millennials, who are having to postpone life’s milestones due to reduced work opportunities – so the demographic more likely to buy luxury products now sees itself reflected in luxury ads. These brands are trying to attract an older demographic here by showing that maturity can be cool. Times have changed. There have been fewer teens in anti-ageing cream ads for a while and an older, confident Twiggy has been the face of UK multinational retailer M&S for several years. Established ‘middle youth’ celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba are profiting from their own lifestyle brands too.

Substance and beauty

While some of these more mature models are well known beauties and so these ads, like the new campaign from US luxury store chain Barneys showing groups of young men captivated by Christie Brinkley and others, celebrate the durability of allure, many of these older models are famous for their substance – their creative achievements and not just their looks. This idea that glamour can go hand in hand with purpose is behind the recent London exhibition: “Women Fashion Power”. This whole development resonates with the current interest in the consumption of experiences and a reduced materialism, evident in things like the sharing economy.

Positive change through 'brand activism'

This is a more caring zeitgeist that makes people and faces with wrinkles and fat more able to claim their place on Instagram and in glossy magazines. To be cool today, you need some character, something honed from life experience. This lies behind the success of vloggers as influencers of younger consumers after all. This all fits well with the trend I call consumption as a route to progress, which sees positive change expressed in things like ‘brand activism’. I think using mature models in ads is a significant reflection of this trend. These ‘mature movement’ models represent female empowerment, and the idea that you don’t have to become invisible as you age – a clear message of hope for Millennials as well as boomer consumers.

Interested in more insights? Subscribe to our content

Latest Insights

Luxury and Fashion: What to Expect in 2023?

Fflur Roberts 01 March 2023

100% Optical 2023

Euromonitor International 31 January 2023

Shop Our Reports

World Market for Duty-Free: Unlocking Value and New Opportunities

The outlook for world duty-free looks rosy, as pent-up demand and the recent reopening of China are powering tourism recovery, despite the headwinds caused by…

View Report

Luxury in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Unlimited Opportunities

The global luxury goods industry is witnessing a recovery, and is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels in 2023. Gulf Council Countries like Saudi Arabia and…

View Report

Competitor Strategies in Personal Accessories

Personal accessories sales growth slowed in 2022, due to a high inflation environment, continuing COVID-19 restrictions in China, and the impact of the war in…

View Report
Passport Our premier global market research database with detailed data and analysis on industries, companies, economies and consumers. Track existing and future opportunities to support critical decision-making across all functions within your organisation Learn More