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Media representations of women in later life: Vanessa Redgrave as new face of Gucci

by on September 22, 2016

Lots of coverage in the fashion press of the appointment of Vanessa Redgrave (aged 79) as the new face of Gucci, the star of their Cruise 17 campaign. Grazia describe this as an ode to British culture which was filmed in the house and grounds of Chatsworth. According to the Metro, ‘fashion campaigns are completely dominated by lithe, thin young things. But Gucci have come along and reminded us that beauty and style don’t have an age limit.’ It goes on to say approvingly that Redgrave is in this role because ‘she is a legend’. Well, certainly her acting credentials are second to none – though she is also a very beautiful woman. Grazia say ‘Redgrave may not be a new face, but she is certainly a new face of fashion, proving that you can be beautiful at any age‘. One sort of hopes that it isn’t necessary to have to make this point, that this is beyond contention.

However, we can’t ignore that there’s been a considerable debate (including on our blog pages) about the representation – or lack of it – of older women in the media. Broadly speaking, all parts of the media has been widely criticised for not featuring older women whether in TV, film or newspapers. The Hollywood Reporter notes that, recently, a number of older women have taken part in major fashion campaigns: Joni Mitchell (Saint Laurent), Joan Didion (Celine) and Sophia Loren (Dolce & Gabbana).  It remains to be seen whether this is the start of a more age-inclusive fashion trend or a limited nod to greater visibility in the media for (a certain type of) older woman.

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