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Style & Living Fashion Week

Why 73-Year-Old Runway Models Could Be The Future of Fashion Week

"We don't lose interest in clothes just because we age."

By Adele Chapin

Modeling has to be one of the careers with the earliest retirement age. After all, someone like Karlie Kloss is considered a modeling veteran with an almost decade-long career already, and she's only 24! But this Fall 2017 fashion season challenged the idea that runway models need to be under the age required to rent a car.

At NYFW, Michael Kors cast 90s-era supermodels Carolyn Murphy and Amber Valletta to walk alongside Ashley Graham, while 65-year-old model Jacky O’Shaughnessy modeled in the Tome show. Then, models at Simone Rocha's show at London Fashion Week spanned seven generations, according to Elle.

The lineup included 73-year-old Benedetta Barzini, 69-year-old Jan Ward de Villeneuve, and 50-year-old Cecilia Chancellor, who all had major modeling careers in decades past. In Paris, Dries Van Noten celebrated his 100th fashion show by casting models he's worked with throughout his career, creating an intergenerational cast.

This diverse casting in terms of age is part of a growing evolution in fashion. Ever since Ari Seth Cohen launched Advanced Style in 2008, his blog devoted to capturing the “sartorial savvy of the senior set," he's noticed more and more older men and women on the runways, in fashion campaigns, and in lifestyle media in general. Advanced Style's grown to include two books, and the women Ari's photographed have signed with modeling agencies (Colleen Heidemann landed an UGG campaign, and Accidental Icon blogger Lyn Slater is a face for Valentino Eyewear). "I am thrilled to see how the fashion industry continues to challenge traditional notions of beauty by including older models. Trend or not, this is having a huge impact on the way the world is redefining the image of aging," Ari tells The Lookbook.

Womenswear A/W 2017-18 #driesvannoten #dvn #dvn100th #dvnpfw #pfw

A post shared by Dries Van Noten (@driesvannoten) on

NYC style icon and star of the documentary film Advanced Style Tziporah Salamon told The Lookbook that she also isn't sure whether it's a trend, but it's something that should be applauded. "I think it's about time, and definitely needed since we're living longer. Older women also wear clothes and are interested in fashion and style," says Tziporah, who has a book called The Art of Dressing out next month.

After all, why shouldn't runway models look like the shoppers who are buying designer clothes, Tziporah points out. "The older woman is the woman who, for the most part, has the means. She's still working and has an active social life and the interest. We don't lose interest in clothes just because we age. I'm just interested in good clothes today as I was when I was younger," she says.

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