Lanvin's decision to cast non-models in its fall ads — "real women" and "real men" who just happen to look gorgeous — got a lot of attention when it was announced yesterday. Under what other circumstances would an 82-year-old woman of color become the face of a major luxury brand? Now that all of the ads have been published, it's time to get to know the people in them a little better. They range in age from 18-82, and most of them were cast on the street.
Who is this person? Tziporah Salamon
What does she do? According to the street-style blog Advanced Style, which focuses on well-dressed older women, "Tziporah is a well known personal stylist, fashion consultant, and performance artist living in New York." Salamon is 62, and has never previously appeared in any ad campaigns. On her own Web site, Salamon explains that she is the daughter of Hungarian Holocaust survivors. Both of her parents worked in the garment industry — her father was a tailor and her mother was a dressmaker — so she grew up "surrounded by the richness of cloth and design, watching her parents bring flat, one-dimensional pieces of fabric to life." She has a Master's in education and is an instructor at Parsons.
How did she end up in a Lanvin ad? Lanvin approached Ari Seth Cohen, the founder of Advanced Style, about casting some of his subjects.
What does she have to say about being in this campaign? "I am totally honored, jazzed, and thrilled. I am so grateful for this opportunity. In my early 20s I would have never realized that I could do something like this. It wasn't until I was in my 40s that I began to see my beauty. By then I felt that there weren't many opportunities for older models. How ironic is it that i am having my big break as a model in my 60s? This is a great day!"
Who is this person? Mari Malek
What does she do? According to her Web site, she's a Sudanese-born model, a DJ, and the co-founder of a charity called Southern Sudan Initiatives that works in South Sudan to reunite families torn apart by that country's long civil war.
Who is this person? Rachel Trachtenburg
What does she do? She is a musician, podcaster, and activist (and although Trachtenburg does not work primarily as a model, she did recently sign with the Elite agency in New York). Trachtenburg is 18 and is a member of the bands Supercute!, Punch, and the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. She gained attention in her teens for her local New York City political activism. At 14, she opposed Michael Bloomberg's (ultimately successful) efforts to amend term limit laws to permit him to run for, and win, a third mayoral term. She opposes horse carriages in Central Park on grounds of animal cruelty, and has protested the culling of Canada geese. Interestingly, although much of her activism focuses on animal welfare, she's posing with a fur in the ad.
Who is this person? No idea. Do you know him? Email us.
Who is this person? His name is Sebastian Simon. He has a blog. Stella Rose St. Claire says she befriended him on the set and learned that Simon is 16 and looking to break into modeling. He recently signed with the agency M4.
Who is this person? A friend of his writes to tell us that is name is Dominic Vine, and he's a writer and a poet who lives in New York City. UPDATE: Vine wrote to us himself. "I thought I'd fill out the questions you have on the other characters," he said. This is what he sent:
Who is this person? Dominic Vine of the Owls
What does he do? After vagabonding around the world for 12 years he is settled in New York to flesh out being a writer, actor and bodyworker. He's had a blog for 8 years where he talks about his daily experience and perception of living. Upon settling here he ended up doing some modeling as a character in magazine editorials, print advertising and runway. He had long hair and beard for ten years, but cut it off last year, in case you see pictures of some wild haired mountain man: that's what he looked like until recently.
How did he end up in a Lanvin ad? Casting agent Zan Ludlum, whom he had worked with a few years previously, saw that he'd cut and bleached his hair on Facebook and asked him to come in.
What does he have to say about being in this campaign? I have many friends here in New York City who work in and around fashion, though I am mostly ignorant of it myself. When asked to do this I didn't know who Steven Meisel nor Lanvin were. Previously I was trying to manifest myself as a holistic example of natural living... with this campaign I feel I've successfully broken that stride. I'm very grateful for the introduction to this beautiful world and am happy to be a Man in this campaign for a company that is more famous for women's clothes. It was difficult for me to model this outfit, though, as I am much more comfortable climbing trees naked (which most of my modeling reflects). My favorite feeling i get from the campaign is: I bleached my hair as a whim for the Vernal Equinox: I've not felt comfortable with my visage since i cut my long hair and beard... various friends and family were telling me it was a big mistake... then I got asked to be in this prestigious campaign: i'm glad the world tells us that it's safe for us to experiment with ourselves in our transitions, to let go of identities that we've outgrown and allow ourselves to change: and the world will keep supporting and loving us.
Who is this person? No idea. Do you know him? Email us.
Who is this person? Stella Rose St. Claire (h/t to our own Lindy West)
What does she do? A Seattle-New York transplant, St. Claire has a personal style blog called Confessions of a Female Drag Queen and a line of accessories.
How did she end up in a Lanvin ad? St. Claire says on her blog, "I was street cast for this. If anyone is trying to make you feel bad for looking different I am telling you now that this is where being yourself will get you."
What does she have to say about being in this campaign? "All through middle school I was called ugly and teased until I believed it and now I'm in a fucking Lanvin ad. This is for everyone who's ever made me feel like crap or inadequate or made me feel like I couldn't accomplish amazing things. For anyone who's wronged me or lost me. Cause I'm in a Lanvin ad and you ain't! Suck on THAT."
Who is this person? Jacquie "Tajah" Murdock
What does she do? At 82, Murdock no longer works, but prior to her retirement she worked as a dancer at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and at NYU (where she says she used the tuition perks then given to employees to earn three degrees). Murdock had wanted to model as a teenager — "I grew up in Harlem always wanting to be a model, but in my day there were very little opportunities for women of color to work in fashion. At 18 I went from agent to agent looking for jobs, even as a hand model. I have finally made it and I will never give up. Hopefully some day I will get to Paris!" — but this is the first time she's ever been in an ad for a fashion brand.
How did she end up in a Lanvin ad? Lanvin approached Advanced Style. Ari Seth Cohen, the blogger, had originally approached Murdock on the street.
What does she have to say about being in this campaign? Murdock says her expression in the ad is severe because she was having an allergic reaction to the hairspray on set. "The young lady that put my hair up in a French knot, she took some spray and started spraying it all around me, and I had allergies. Every time they took a photo, we had to get tissues because my eyes were running." But, she says, "This campaign is a dream come true."