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Celine ad Joan Didion

Should an Octogenarian Author Model for a Famous Couture House?

Celine made a bold move in hiring literary icon Joan Didion, 80, for its newest fashion campaign. But does it make you want to buy the clothes?

The Parisian clothing line Celine is officially being buzzed about world wide, thanks to a controversial new marketing campaign that has some tastemakers shaking their well-coifed heads.

Its new ad is stylish and sleek, just like the famed fashion house, and stars world-famous writer Joan Didion, a thin wisp of a woman with steel facial features that belie her frail-looking frame. She’s looking right into the camera like she owns it – although you can’t see her eyes behind her high fashion-worthy dark shades.

Oh, and the model wears black. Any further detail of the fabric is hard to make out.

The ad is “cool” for sure. But does it make you want to buy the clothes?Celine ad Joan Didion

The new photos have already stirred up much debate: Does such a celebrated figure in the world of intelligentsia belong in an ad in Vogue? Is it beneath her, or does it honor her? And is she really the right model for the venerable Celine fashion house?

I often relish both sides of everything – making me a pretty lousy reviewer. On this issue, the two stylists on my TV guilty pleasure Fashion Queens totally disagreed, and I ate up every word. But on this, I applaud the Queen who leaned more towards, “You go, girl.”

For me, however, this was much, much more than the celebration of beauty in all sizes, shapes, colors and ages. I do applaud any and every company who wakes up and realizes that maybe we don’t want to buy products after seeing them on a pin-thin, teenage model with enviable cheekbones. I want to see how the items wear on someone more like me – closer in age range (Tilda Swinton in Nars makeup is a great example), for one. After all, when it comes to skincare and makeup especially, I’m shopping to wear it myself.

Alas, high fashion isn’t about the everywoman, so no Dove commercial-like full-figured models. And that, my friends, is where Celine has it right.

This brilliant new ad finally gets it.

The Joan photo is aspiration at its finest, and I cannot tear my eyes away. For at last there’s a brand that understands the presence of an enormous population of women – smart, fashionable, sophisticated women – who do not aspire to be skinnier and younger. That just isn’t our goal.

But the class and timelessness of Joan in that dreamy photo, and her unflinching self-confidence?

Now that’s something to aspire to!

I’d buy into that.


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