The Lanvin fashion line has cast real people instead of professional models in the French label’s autumn and winter 2012 campaigns. Several pictures have surfaced of the spreads, but the one generating the most buzz features 82-year-old Jacquie “Tajah” Murdock, a black model of Jamaican decent.
In her photo, Murdock looks regal and elegant in her lavish designer accessories including encrusted earrings complementing a green dress that hugs her trim figure. In her youth, the British former ballet dancer started out in show business performing at venues such as New York’s historic Apollo Theatre as a teen. Murdock had always wanted to try modeling as a young woman, but faced tremendous discrimination according to reports.
“I wanted to become another Josephine Baker or a high-fashion model on the runway—but the opportunity was not there for women of color,” she explained to The Daily Beast.
She continued persuing her dancing career instead, going on to become a belly dancer at Manhanttan’s Istanbul Club in the 1960s. Murdock also became the first black typist at Universal films in 1948.
When approached to model in the campaign, Murdock was open to fulfilling her dreams of her youth saying, “I’m still attractive… why not?” After being a big hit with the Lanvin team, when asked about her future modeling moves, she exclaimed, “‘Paris, that’s what’s next!’ We’ll see,’” according to Fashionista.com (via Bloginity).
Murdock also expressed her admiration for supermodel Naomi Campbell, a fellow British beauty of Jamaican decent, stating that she’s always wanted to meet the fashion star. The stunning octogenarian believes that they might be distant relatives.
The campaign also features Sudanese DJ Mari Malek and a dignified black man of middle age the media is struggling to identify.
Currently, Murdock lectures and performs at the Jazz Museum in Harlem and is working on a book about her life.
A video for the campaign is set to premiere next month, with Murdock in a featured role.
Follow writer Chivone Smith on Twitter at @misswriterinc