Maye Musk with son Elon, photo reblogged from BBCNews
I was very happy this morning when on my BBC News feed, among the most depressing news concerning leaked Brexit papers, the usual song and dance about the young Royal couple(s) and the forthcoming Royal wedding, speculation over Beckham's MLS team and the statement that there is no gender bias in the BBC pay decision making (I thought, from past claims, that there was, I don't quite know what went wrong here) there was an article about 69 year old Maye Musk , also known as the mother of billionaire Elon, currently enjoying a renaissance as a model. It seems that in 2017 she booked more jobs than at any other time in her long modelling career, which she began at age 15 - with gaps.
In the article, Rebecca Valentine, MD of Grey Model Agency, which also represents me, is quoted as saying that the presence of older models "is a response to market pressure where, for the first time, this ageing group are refusing to sit down and shut up." But she admits that it is still a bit of a struggle. Vincent Peter who runs Silent model agency in Paris is quite dismissive of the whole phenomenon "I don't see any trend here." End of.
Meanwhile Musk is having a ball. She talks about her struggle to keep an optimum weight so that she can fit into a UK size 8- I note she emphasises diet and does not mention exercise , which to me is a great mistake because the older you get the more problems you are likely to have with bone density and maintaining good flexibility in your spine is a must. Many older women (and men), especially over the age of seventy, are very thin but have no flexibility at all, can hardly lift anything heavy and are at the constant risk of injury. They also tend to curve.
I love Maye Musk and am happy she is so successful. She is a role model, truly. If she can do it there is hope for us. But I have no illusions. It is not yet 'normal' to have older models on the catwalk. Yes we have made some inroad into fashion editorials, commercials (but there have always been older models in commercials, representing stereotypical grannies). Yes, there are forward looking brands that are happy to be inclusive - you will not find them at London Fashion Week though, they tend to be young designers who cannot afford the exorbitant prices they would have to pay for the privilege of showing their work on the LFW runway.
Whether we like it or not beauty is still thought to be a prerogative of the young. Older bodies are not flawless by definition and consumers seem to be reluctant to regard such flaws as pleasing, they have to be hidden from sight - with exceptions. When designers make clothes they rarely imagine an older woman or man wearing them. If they do, they have in mind someone who is 'ageless', someone that does not exhibit obvious signs of ageing.
Next month there will be London Fashion Week. I am curious to see whether any older model has been booked to appear on the runway. It will be interesting.