The latest Helmut Lang Campaign features these rather badass ladies from Wales-an 86 year old skydiver, a 66 year old South African, and an 86 year old funeral director. There are some amazing films that accompany the images here. Besides the obvious inclusivity of age in a forward leaning fashion house, these do not appear to be women who have had any age intervening processes- which is perhaps why they look so powerful.
Ideas of beauty are entirely cultural. What the Maasai think is gorgeous is not what someone in Orange County would think is aspirational, although they both may have had considerable body modifications done. Ideas of beauty, are really just what people agree upon as being beautiful. These ideas are fundamentally tribal- just like the ladies of the OC and the Massai, different tribes with different tribal values. Our research shows that the idea of inclusivity within the tribes is a tough one- values outside of a group maybe tolerated but rarely aspired to. Which is fine, we all know what we like and we tend to hang out with people who feel the same way.
Fashion houses will, for the most part, want to sell into the concept of beauty that the greater part of the culture agrees to. They are businesses making what they see as smart business decisions. However, it is also possible as with the Lang ads here, that a brand can make a very strong statement by pushing against the prevailing culture, and saying that maybe there is an alternative view, and that perhaps the customer who falls within that view, may support this new viewpoint.