These stylish fashion images not only have a 50-plus model in front of the camera, they were produced by a crew who are also all over 50.
It’s the SS16 campaign is for online womenswear brand JD Williams, who have used older models in previous ad campaigns, but this is the first time the crew has all been over 50. They believe it’s a fashion industry first.
Model Yazemeenah Rossi is 60, stylist Caroline Baker is 70, and photographer Wendy Carrig and hair and make-up artist Charlie Duffy are both over 50.
Fashion brands’ use of young models, even when they’re selling to our age group, means – as High50 readers well know – they are really missing a trick. Our own research has shown that 96 per cent of our age group feel ignored by advertisers, and JD Williams’ research found that 50+ women are 175 per cent more likely to buy when the models are in our age range.
In their survey of 2,500 women over 50, 58 per cent said they feel the high street only caters for younger people. Angela Spindler, CEO of JD Williams’ parent company, said: “We wanted to address the lack of women over 50 in adverts and promotional material. It’s about time we saw more over-50 reference points for this customer.”
We love the images, and wanted to go find out about the women behind them. So we asked Yazemeenah, Caroline and Wendy about the shoot, about working in fashion as they’ve got older, and about the fashion industry’s portrayal of 50+ women.
What was it like to work on a shoot where the crew were all our age, rather than mixed ages?
Yazemeenah Rossi, model: It’s hard to find the right words to express the beautiful energy that flowed on set between us that day! It was quite magical, and inspiration was flowing in between us all, a very peaceful and happy set. I hope that magic will touch the people who see the pictures.
Wendy Carrig, photographer: It was a privilege and a pleasure to work alongside such a strong team of talented and inspirational women. I often work on teams with differing ages – it’s not uncommon to ﬁnd team members’ ages varying from 16 to 60 on a shoot – but I don’t believe creativity is deﬁned or conﬁned by age. Everyone has something different they can contribute.
Caroline Baker, stylist: I didn’t really notice our ages and it was only at the end of the day that I became aware that we had all been chosen specifically for our age. It seemed just like a normal day at the studio – a bunch of eccentric creatives!
I was aware that the model was an older model and I knew the client was a fashion brand specifically for the 50-plus market. I think it’s very good marketing; you must know your audience, and to cater for a specific age group is very sensible.
Tell us a bit about your background and career highlights.
Wendy: I work for a variety of editorial and advertising clients, recently doing shoots for Triumph and Cosmopolitan UK. Photographing Angelina Jolie dancing in the Mojave Desert was a highlight. She was young and relatively unknown, but the whole day shooting in that inﬁnite landscape with dramatic changing light was truly memorable.
I was once commissioned to photograph the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro – from a helicopter. The pilot put a safety harness on me and removed my door so I could get a better shot!
Caroline: I was fashion editor at Nova magazine in the 70s, Cosmopolitan in the 80s, Sunday Times in the 90s, Good Housekeeping in the 00s and finally Mail On Sunday’s YOU magazine up to my retirement a couple of years ago. Now I work freelance and contribute to magazines, especially new launches, as they seem to be the ones most interested in my history and style.
In the 90s I was involved in the Murdoch group’s launch of a magazine aimed at the older woman, called Mirabella. But back then we could not get the support of the advertising industry and Mirabella only survived for a year.
Do you get less work as you’ve reached your 50s, or not?
Yazemeenah: I’m 60 and I am lucky enough to say that my workload is busier than ever at this time in my life with modeling and acting jobs, and my personal projects!
I have been modelling for 32 years, and worked for brands including YSL, Jil Sander, Thierry Mugler and more. But it’s in recent years that I have done my most fulfilling work around the world, by always keeping being true to myself. This now leads me to another chapter in my life as a mature woman and role model, being interviewed all over the world, live on TV shows or in magazines.
Caroline: I’m in my early 70s and have worked in the fashion media nearly all my working life. I have always been fully employed at magazines and newspapers on the fashion pages and age hasn’t really been an issue.
I have always been totally immersed in the fashion world, following the collections, watching designers, seeing fashion shows and collections. Keeping in touch and knowing what is right now has always been my priority and I do it quite naturally.
Wherever I was working as fashion editor I’d always have a clear picture of who my reader was and so catered for her needs. Today in fashion there are looks that work for all ages – young, middle and older. It is interesting for me now seeing shows from an older perspective. I can see ways to wear looks and ideas that are really fun and interesting.
It’s great to see a crew and model over 50. But is it a shame it’s necessary and so unusual?
Yazemeenah: I agree it shouldn’t be an unusual thing, but we’re so used to images of youth in our industry. Slowly things seem to be changing and we’re seeing more and more models over 50 appearing in fashion and beauty campaigns, which is great to see, as women in this age range can really identify with them.
Wendy: It’s not uncommon to ﬁnd 50+ people working on shoots – I often work with crew of differing ages. But it is unusual for the whole crew to be over 50, unless chosen speciﬁcally, as in this instance. It was a perfect storm!
Caroline: I think it’s wonderful that we can all come out and say I am 50-plus and just as stylish and interested in fashion as we were all our lives. And look at us all here: looking cool and stylish, and all over 50!
We have to ask, what difference does age make? I want to emphasize this because there is such a negative feeling out there [in the industry] that it’s good to see that these are all older people doing creative work in the fashion arena, especially as fashion is so youth-driven.
What do you think about the fashion industry’s portrayal of women over 50? What would you change?
Wendy: When I started working as a photographer Kate Moss was 16, and 25 was thought of as old for a model. Kate Moss is now 41 and her career seems unstoppable. Stella Tennant is 45, Christy Turlington 47 and Yasmin Le Bon 51.
These have all recently featured on the cover and pages of British Vogue, and the new ad campaigns by Armani and Balmain. So I think our industry has already changed and will continue to do so, embracing all age groups.
Caroline: Until now older women have been taboo – do not go there. It is only recently that it has become accepted that older women have a voice that’s worth listening to and a face and body that look different but OK!
Fashion needs change dramatically as you get older and to me there is room for a magazine aimed specifically at this need. But it is wonderful to see how fashion retailers are beginning to target their older audience specifically with ideas on how to dress, and what works at this time in our lives as our bodies change shape.
We are all very aware of not trying to look like we are chasing youth, and being frumpy is the one thing that haunts us!