Fifty-six-year-old Mercy Brewer is the star of Lonely Clothing’s SS17 lingerie collection, who are breaking the ageism taboo this season after making headlines from it’s retouch-free autumn/winter 2016 campaign.
Lonely’s co-founder and designer Helene Morris said, “The beauty and fashion industries are so obsessed with youth, but the reality is we are all ageing, and there are so many wonderful things about growing older. So often the primary message around age is intervention, which is a frustrating response to such a natural, inevitable process.”
Model Mercy Brewer told i-D, “Forget stereotypes, if someone looks good in your gear, shine a light on them.”
The body-positive brand strictly prohibits the use of photoshop. Lena Dunham has previously appeared in an unretouched campaign for the lingerie brand with her fellow Girls star Jemima Kirke. At that time Lonely said their brand “aspires to showcase women wearing underwear in a way that we usually don’t see in mainstream advertising and the media.”
“Instead of being objectified, the women who participate in these campaigns – in this case, Lena and Jemima – are empowered and exhibit real beauty that will hopefully help women everywhere feel a little more liberated.”
In terms of ad campaigns, we have steadily seen an increase in the inclusion of older women, like Céline hiring Joan Didion, 60-year-old Gillean McLeod modelling swimwear for H&M and two years ago, Joni Mitchell’s ad campaign with Saint Laurent. We are also beginning to see more diversity in age across catwalks – 85-year-old Carmen Dell’Orefice closed the Guo Pei Spring 2017 Couture show and in Milan, Lauren Hutton closed the show arm in arm with Gigi Hadid at the SS17 Bottega Veneta show.
The Fashion Spot released its biannual diversity report in October last year, which analysed the 8,832 models featured in the 299 SS17 fashion shows which took place in September and October, and SS17 saw the most women over 50 on the catwalk than ever before.
Fashion has no age limit. 85 years young @carmendellorefice_official graced the runway in Paris to unveil Guo Pei’s “Legend” couture collection for Spring/Summer 2017. . Makeup looks created by @debbie_f_makeup for @maccosmetics … Hair looks by @stephentlow @elslmanagement for @NevilleSalon using @lorealprouk . For all the looks from “Legend” visit www.guo-pei.com (link in bio) . #guopei #couture #GuoPeiSS17 #PFW #Legend
Although the initial reasoning for showing an age diversity on the catwalk and the runway may be commercial, over time, it sends a positive message. Fashion is fantasy, of course, but it’s also a depiction of a cultural ideal. As Vogue put it – “the idea of realness—whether packaged as a model or an unexpected talent—has usurped follower count as the most invaluable quality during fashion month.”
If showing a range of ages in ad campaigns and on the runway is just a once-off for these brands, then this is just tokenism and they’re just giving themselves a pat on the back. Lingerie brand Lonely, however, are solidifying their position as a power-playing brand when it comes to inclusive campaigns that disrupting our narrow conceptions of what’s considered ‘beautiful’.
We hope that diversity on the runway and in advertisements —whether that diversity in ethnicity, size, sexuality or age—continues to show itself for seasons to come.