5/21/2024 | By Terri L. Jones

With the aging of the population comes a trend toward senior models – using older adults to showcase fashions and grace advertisements and magazine covers. Seniors Guide writer Terri L. Jones looks at a few of the women in this important space.

The word “model” reaches beyond dewy-eyed 17- to 20-somethings. These days, brand managers, magazine publishers, and fashion designers are recognizing the benefit of age diversity in marketing their products and have been inviting women with gray hair, undisguised wrinkles, and various body shapes to grace their ads, magazine covers, and runways. Finally, older women are becoming icons of beauty and elegance!

From TV stars to subway riders

According to the fashion search engine Tagwalk, approximately 75 percent of the top 20 Paris and Milan runway shows included at least one older model. In fact, 61-year-old Marcia Cross of “Desperate Housewives” fame recently closed the Vetements fashion show in a stunning sparkly red gown during Paris Fashion Week. The new face of Loewe handbags and accessories is adorned with years of wisdom: 89-year-old Dame Maggie Smith, who starred on “Downton Abbey,” among many other television shows and movies.

But it’s not just older celebrities and former models who are taking center stage.

A female senior model looking into the camera. Image by Ruediger Baun.

One designer, Batsheva Hay, cast over-40 models only for a recent fashion show. She scouted her talent as she went about her day, from the subway to the grocery store. Hay found one of her models, a 52-year-old art advisor, while scrolling Instagram.

For the show, Hay wanted her models to look gorgeous but also to look their age. “I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re trying to look younger,” Hay told the “New York Times.”

Out of the shadows

As women age, they often begin to feel invisible. In their younger days, all heads would turn when they walked into a room. But now, it’s as if they’re not even there. They often perpetuate this invisibility by avoiding clothing and makeup that draws attention to themselves.

Beautiful senior Black woman. Image by Yuri Arcurs

But this new trend brings older women out of the shadows and into the spotlight to be seen … and admired! The trend also makes economic sense. Designers are waking up to the fact that older women make up a sizable portion of their customers and should be represented when they introduce and market their fashions.

A fashion writer for “Vogue wrote, “No question, there’s long been a disconnect between the very young age of the models who populate the runway and the not-young age of a significant chunk of people who follow fashion (and buy clothes and are also alive). … This collection would make a lot more sense if actual women were wearing the clothes – and now here they were, grown-ass women wearing great clothes!”

The takeaway for senior models

At 92, classic beauty Carmen Dell’Orefice is still getting modeling jobs, recently appearing on the cover of “Vogue Czechoslovakia.” Modeling for 77 years, Dell’Orefice is known as the world’s longest working model.

“I think America may be growing up and accepting the fact that the bulk of life exists beyond 50. Because demographically … the vast population is over 50,” Dell’Orefice said.

Maybe you don’t want to walk the runway or pose for a photographer’s camera like Dell’Orefice, Cross, or Smith, but you can (and should) show off your beauty. Wear high heels, if you’d like. Put on that bright shade of lipstick. Hold your head high.

When you project confidence, people can see your beauty regardless of your age.

Related: How to Dress Your Age and Love It!

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over 10 years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones