Designers have had a taste for older women as of late. The new geriatric Lanvin ads aside, Saskia de Brauw, the 31-year-old, pixie-cut Dutch artist/model and Kati Nescher, the Russian-born, German-based 27-year-old new mother are both recent runway stars and campaign snatchers (Fendi, Chanel, Tom Ford, Nina Ricci, Alexander Wang, etc, etc). But it’s one Miss Aymeline Valade, who, at 26, is shaping up to be the face of the season.
Following a Balenciaga Spring 2011 exclusive, Alexander Wang selected the then-25-year-old Valade—no spring chicken, by industry standards—to open his Fall 2011 show (in Feb. 2011). At the time, she explained to me, “My agency always told me that I have a particular face and bone structure, so people will either like me or they’ll hate me. Now, it seems to be happening that people like me.” To which Wang added, “Aymeline is very special. She’s the girl that I always think about, that I want to dress.”
It would appear that Karl Lagerfeld, Donna Karan, Giorgio Armani, and Reed Krakoff agree. Fast forward a year-and-a-half and the former skateboard chick (she was discovered skating to her ad-agency job in Paris) is fronting a whopping six campaigns in the hefty September issues, and dominating nearly half of a 66-page, multi-girl Mario Sorrenti editorial in August Vogue Paris, which sees her running, rollerblading, and making out on the back of a motorcycle. When Valade goes for it in pictures, she really goes for it. “My vision of modeling is much more [about] the attitude you have, I think,” she told me. “Whatever age you are, if you’re inspired, people respond to you. There are many beautiful girls who don’t know what to do with their beauty.” The girls getting the most play these days, Valade seems to understand, have distinct personalities and style in spades. One could argue that both things only get better with age.