As the stylist-turned-designer becomes something of a fashion industry VIP — think Rachel Zoe, The Wren Scott And Jane Yang — a veteran wardrobe ace adds yet another hyphen to his resume. Gillean McLeodstylist who also became a designer, recently appeared in front of the camera as a model, at 57 years old.
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McLeod’s moonlighting as a model began casually, with the editorial and commercial photographer Zachary Scottwho McLeod regularly works with, featuring her as a shrink in an image for the New York Times Sunday Magazine. After another photographer a friend took portraits of her to send to a modeling agency, McLeod’s new calling took off, with jobs for everything from financial services to mattresses to herbal supplements. This Sunday, she passes off, appearing in a superbowl commercial for the NFL – directed by the Oscar and Emmy winner Errol Morris.
The narrative of the NFL’s game-day publicity is secret until after kickoff, but the part McLeod landed was that of a boss at a top-notch company praising a “good fourth quarter.” McLeod’s patrician appearance helped land the gig, but the clothes can help land a job, she says. So, as she usually does, she wore something for the audition that she designed herself.
The navy blue pinstripe dress with a draped belly panel is made from premium British wool, lined with Chinese silk and tailored to fit McLeod’s 5’10” frame.” In my experience as a stylist, when I have to buy clothes to dress people up as businesswomen, which I find is awful,” says McLeod, who has styled campaigns for Honda, Virgin America, Sprint and Adidas. Her self-designed dress, both professional and distinct, part of a collection she recently launched, Gillean M. (It sells to private clients in the price range of $750 to $1,400.) McLeod was asked to wear the dress for filming the Super Bowl Commercial.
And when she’s on camera, she’s used to other stylists preferring her personal clothes to what they shot for a job. For a Charles Schwab print campaign she posed for last fall, McLeod is adorned with her own chunky necklace, modernist bracelet and mixed metal rings.
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McLeod’s Super Bowl break highlights two trends at once. One is the growing need for companies to portray baby boomers in ads that target this demographic (think American Apparel’s latest use of a scantily clad 62-year-old). “Gillean probably works as much as our 18-year-olds,” says Maria Minelli, co-owner of M Model Management, which represents McLeod. “The spike in demand for women over 40 started just as Gillean entered the business.” Add Carole NaffM’s other co-owner, “If Gillean dyed her hair black or got Botox, she wouldn’t get all the work she does. Clients want the naturally beautiful silver-haired woman.
The other trend in McLeod’s triple threat career is fashion designers designing clothes and serving as spokespersons. It’s not just about riding the trains dressed for red carpet patrons; Jennifer Rade, Cristina Ehrlich And Simone Harouche made bespoke clothes for their clients, so they functioned as designers before they even put their name on a label. Putting themselves in the public eye to market their lines is a natural extension of that “lifestyle guru” era.
Style remains the primary focus of McLeod’s career. But she’s happy to deposit the Super Bowl business check at Bank of America, whose Los Angeles branches recently displayed banners with images of McLeod being kissed by her real life boyfriend – who is a little younger than her.