On Thursday morning, a group of models aged 47 to 65 gathered to protest London Fashion Week. They carried signs that read “STOP AGEISM” and “GROW UP!” and they voiced concerns that women cease being “visible” to designers after the age of 30.
On Saturday night, it seems Simone Rocha heard them.
The Irish designer sent seven generations down her catwalk, including women in their teens (Nora Attal, Mariana Zarzagoza), 20’s (Lineisy Monteiro, Alana Zimmer), and 30’s (Audrey Marnay, Jamie Bochert).
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But it was the 50+ models that made the audience swoon. Whispers of “who is that?!” rippled through the crowd, though even with the internet at their fingertips, nobody seemed to know. We did a little digging, and built a brief cheat sheet on the newest (and oldest) runway sensations in England.
Benedetta Barzini, 73
This Italian actress and model was “discovered” by Diana Vreeland in 1963, and promptly sent to Andy Warhol’s studio, where she performed onstage with The Velvet Underground. By the late ’70s, she’d fled New York for Milan, where she joined the Communist Party and helped run a militant feminist group called Unione Donne Italiane. She has since worked as a couture model for Dior and a professor of feminist theory in Milan. She has four grown children.
Jan Ward de Villeneuve, 69
Born in Ohio, Ward was studying to be a teacher when Eileen Ford signed her as a model and brought her to New York City. After working with legendary ’60s photographers like David Bailey and Norman Parkinson, she married David Bowie’s photographer Justin de Villeneuve. Ward has two daughters: Daisy, an illustrator for brands like Adidas and Louis Vuitton, and Poppy, a photographer and film director.
Marie-Sophie Wilson-Carr, 53
A regular on ’90s runways, Wilson-Carr walked for Azzedine Alaia, John Galliano, and Marc Jacobs when he was first designing for Perry Ellis. She appeared with Johnny Depp in the 2005 French film …And They All Lived Happily Ever After, and is currently producing a documentary on musician and beat poet John Cohen. According to Instagram, Wilson-Carr has a very awesome dog.
Cecilia Chancellor, 50
Like Stella Tennant and Mary Charteris, Chancellor is a model descended from royalty. (In her case, the 12th Earl of Winchilsea, which is actually a real place.) She covered ELLE in the ’80s, then starred in campaigns for Banana Republic, Helmut Lang, and Prada. Chancellor is a current face of Miu Miu’s resort campaign; she has a teenage son and a Marc Jacobs bag named after her.