Around the office, we’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks discussing all the amazing older women who have been popping up in major ad campaigns: Joan Didion for Céline, Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent, and a trio of grandmothers for Dolce & Gabbana. If you think about it, one designer brand using older women is interesting, two is fascinating, and three—three is “Whoa, something is going on here!” It wasn’t until working on a story for earlier today about how men react to super low-cut outfits that I connected some dots.
We’ve all heard the adage “sex sells” at least a hundred times by now, and it’s true. It might be happening subconsciously, but a whole heck of a lot of the things we buy are because we want to appear more desirable, whether it’s as simple as a sexy cocktail dress or a little more finessed (as in, all the sexy celebs buy this brand of bottled water or drive this type of luxury car, and therefore I want to too!). Flip through any magazine and check out the ads. The lion’s share feature models with gorgeous bodies, guys without shirts (hi, Justin Bieber!), and long, muscled legs intertwined in intimate positions. By rejecting almost all of that and shining a spotlight on women with snowy hair and wrinkles that tell of a life full of adventures, some of today’s biggest brands are staging a revolt of sorts.
A fresh wave of feminism is screaming that it’s here, from Chanel’s sign-toting spring finale to the thoughtful “I Need Feminism” campaign. By adding a new mode to the advertising mix, a message has been sent: Go shopping and buy because, pure and simple, you like it. Free yourself from the idea that you should because the woman in the picture is a lingerie model knockout and has the most handsome guy you’ve ever seen, ever, hanging on her every word. Take the sex out of it, think about what you like, and go from there.