The story behind Lanvin's latest face

How an 81-year-old former dancer realised her high-fashion dreams in Lanvin’s new campaign...

Lanvin in the era of Alber Elbaz (the Alber-a?) has repeatedly shown it isn’t afraid to take creative risks. Which other fashion house would release a delectably goofy video of models dancing? Which other designer would serenade attendees at the end of a fashion show?

In its latest road-less-taken gambit, Lanvin shot a group of ‘real’ men and women—as in, non-professional models—for its autumn winter 2012 campaign. The characters in the images include a waiter, a milliner and a recent immigrant to the US, and range in age from 18 to 81 years old.

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The eldest participant in the campaign is Jacqueline Tajah Murdock, an incredibly elegant former dancer who, at age 81, is the most senior face of a brand we've seen this season—not to mention the most interesting.

Her dancer’s posture is in full effect in her campaign image. In it, Murdock wears a deep-green peplumed number in what appears to be an opulent dressing room, piles of Lanvin handbags and all.

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Born in Harlem, Murdock enjoyed a long career as a dancer. Though she aspired to break into modelling in Paris, she still hasn’t been to France. ‘I wanted to become another Josephine Baker or a high-fashion model on the runway,’ she told the Huffington Post, ‘but the opportunity was not there for women of colour.’

Though Murdock's appearances on Advanced Style have brought her wider recognition, the campaign was still a ‘long time coming,’ she told Fashionista. And she hopes the Lanvin campaign will lead to new opportunities.

‘Alber Elbaz kept kissing me and saying “I love you, I love you, I love you!” He came to say goodbye to me and said, “Imagine if I never met you.” He said, “What’s next?” I said, “Paris, that’s what’s next!” We’ll see.’

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