In an era when modeling has supposedly become diversified with fresh and interesting faces like Han Jin, Chanel Iman & Lakshmi Menon, relics of the 1980s I-won't-get-outta-bed-for-less-than-$10,000-a-day age are landing top notch ad campaigns: Christy Turlington for Escada (shot by Patrick Demarchelier), Claudia Schiffer in Chanel and Salvatore Ferragamo (respectively shot by Karl Lagerfeld and Mario Testino); Amber Valetta for DSquared (Steven Meisel), Linda Evangelista in Prada (also Steven Meisel), Naomi Campbell for Yves Saint Laurent, Stephanie Seymour in Loewe (Steven Klein), and Eva Herzigova in Louis Vuitton.
Less a testament of the former supermodels' "formidable powers of longevity" to quote a breathless and fawning WWD piece, it's actually a frightening sign of the sinking state of the economy. By falling back on aging icons, these A-list fashion houses are actually retrenching quite sharply in their marketing, opting for fashion comfort food instead of exciting new eye candy. "She's very much in tune with the key social trends of the moment," is fairly typical rhetoric, in this case by Escada CEO Jean-Marc Loubier about hiring Nuala yogini Christy Turlington. "In the case of Escada, we're building the character of the brand, and if she were just a top model, she wouldn't fulfill that element." Translation: the older fashionistas have the money to spend, so we'll forgo pricey long-term branding and courting of younger, future customers in favor of raking in sales...now.
Dawn of My Next Top Model is also of the mind that using these "time-honored" models has less to do with any "formidable powers" on the part of the models and more to do with staving off a looming business crisis - a smart move by fashion labels facing an impeding crunch.
The good news is that it's mostly models rather than actors landing these campaigns, however, fashion thrives on change and what's new...which won't be the case when what lands in mail boxes this fall could be mistaken for a fashion wax museum catalog instead of the supersized September issue.
- Lesley Scott