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Literary icon Joan Didion is the new face of fashion house Céline

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She's the American literary heavyweight whose cult status rivals that of any contemporary supermodel.

So French fashion house Céline made a very smart move indeed when they singled out novelist and playwright Joan Didion as the muse for their spring 2015 campaign. 

Creative director Phoebe Philo selected the 80-year-old author, who has penned classics Play It as It Lays and Slouching Towards Bethlehem, to epitomise the label's minimal, pseudo-intellectual vibe. 

The first photo from the campaign, shot by Juergen Teller, shows Didion posing in a black turtleneck with oversized sunglasses and a giant gold pendant necklace. 

It's the kind of effortlessly stylish look that has seen Didion lauded by fashion commentators in recent years, in addition to her stalwart fan base of literary admirers. 

Joan Didion is the new poster girl for Céline (photo: Juergen Teller/Celine)

Joan Didion is the new poster girl for Céline (photo: Juergen Teller/Céline)

Designer Philo has a good eye for movers and shakers in the fashion industry, having been named last year among Time magazine's 100 most influential people of 2014.

She's previously turned to singer Kate Bush as inspiration for her work, alongside long-time muse, the Ukrainian-Canadian model Daria Werbowy.

A key element of American literary culture, Didion began her career in the  New York office of Vogue magazine. 

In 1964, she married writer John Gregory Dunne and the pair moved to California, where they later adopted a baby daughter named Quintana Roo. 

They became a central part of a reactionary community of West Coast writers in the 1960s that included Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson. It was during this time that Didion wrote her seminal collection of essays Slouching Towards Bethlehem  and her critically acclaimed second novel, Play It As it Lays.

Joan Didion pictured in the 1970s (above and below)

Joan Didion pictured in the 1970s

Joan Didion pictured in the 1970s (above and below)

In 2003, tragedy struck Didion after her husband and then her daughter died suddenly in succession. 

In her later works, including the books The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights, she explores the heartbreaking loss she suffered.

"Crying all the time—that’s not what happens," Didion said, in a 2011 interview about her experience of grief. "You become crazy. I found quotes from Freud and Melanie Klein where they call grief a form of psychosis we don’t treat. We let it run its course.

"I had spent so much of my life guarding against being raw. I mean, part of growing up for me was getting a finish, an impenetrable polish. And suddenly to be thrown back to this fourteen-year-old helplessness..."

She said writing Magical Thinking - a process that took less than three months - was like "sitting down at the typewriter and bleeding. Some days I’d sit with tears running down my face".

Joan Didion with Nora Ephron at an event in New York in 2007

Joan Didion with Nora Ephron at an event in New York in 2007

After she wrote the two books, Didion expressed the need to do something new. 

"I'm feeling very strongly the need to do something in another vein," she said, in another interview in 2011. "I don't know what that vein will be, but I want to find it."

This campaign for Céline certainly marks an entry into new territory for the novelist, although it is not the first time a big-name fashion or beauty brand has sought to reach out to a more mature calibre of poster girl. 

Most recently, Dame Helen Mirren, 69, was selected as the face of L'Oreal Paris alongside 75-year-old Jane Fonda, while 69-year-old Charlotte Rampling has modelled for Nars lipstick.

You might also like: 'The campaign stars who have broken the stigma of ageing in advertising'

Photos: Rex Features, Getty Images

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