Sophia Elias
January 08, 2015 8:00 am

The Internet rightfully freaked out over news that French fashion house, Céline, landed a true role model as the face of their newest campaign. The beloved, 80-year-old author, Joan Didion just glows in brand’s latest ad, and makes us want to buy ALL the clothes (if we had the money).

But you know who didn’t freak out about either the ad, or the ecstatic e-reaction? Joan Didion. When the New York Times reached out to Didion about whether or not she was aware of the splash her ad caused, her response was total perfection. In response to the question, “was [she] aware of the sensation she caused?” She replied, “I don’t have any clue, I have no idea.” That, my friends, is how you elevate yourself to epic levels of awesome. Be so above the fray you have NO idea you’re making waves. And how did the ad come about? As Ms. Didion so bluntly puts it, “they got in touch with me.”

Alongside French dancer Marie-Agnes Gillot and model Freya Lawrence, Didion is featured in Céline’s Spring ad campaign shot by Juergen Teller. Sporting a pair of signature oversized frames and a sleek bob, Didion is the definition of individualized style and grace. Vogue even fancies her “the ultimate Céline woman: brilliant, creative, vaguely recalcitrant.”

Aside from her recent modeling credit, Didion earned the title of trailblazer long ago. She has, as the New York Observer notes, “long been something of the patron saint of female writers.” Having won a National Humanities Medal and written acclaimed essays like Slouching Toward Bethlehem (1968), Didion’s literary legacy is as distinguished as her image in this ad campaign.

In a world so concerned with youth and superficial beauty, Didion’s campaign is a pleasant change of pace—and part of a growing trend of gorgeous older fashion icons. Thanks to photographers like Ari Seth Cohen (owner/creator of Advanced Style), women who are 65+ have been recognized by fashion houses and designers across the board. Lanvin’s F/W 2012 ad campaign featured beautiful, non-model men and women of all ages. Similarly, sunglasses designer, Karen Walker, used a group aspirational New Yorkers (aged 65-92) as models in her Summer 2013 campaign. More recently, Dolce and Gabbana featured three senior women in its newest ad.

It’s refreshing to see the fashion industry embracing the beauty of women of all ages. And it’s particularly exciting to see a game-changing, brilliant writer-hero like Didion, who will soon be the subject of her own documentary, celebrated in the pages of magazines.

With the whims of pop culture dictating narrow beauty standards and making us question our own self-image, Didion’s continued cultural relevance is something we’re grateful for.

She remains an icon—not simply of style—but of honesty, self-respect and female empowerment. We’ll just leave you with this wonderful Didion quote: “To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves – there lies the great, singular power of self-respect.”

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