Friday, January 9, 2015

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Iris Apfel, late bloomer?

Thanks, Vanessa Friedman (head fashion critic at the New York Times) for giving credence to what I've been thinking.*

First a trickle, now almost a tidal wave, fashion is embracing the old, at least the older. But are we oldsters just fashion's playthings, the next "next thing"? The shock of the new? Attractive by our supposed higher buying power? Is fashion really catering, in any fashionable way, to the amazing, talented, creative, actively engaged population over 60?

The optimist gushes "maybe". The realist sighs "not yet". The pessimist mumbles "this too shall pass".

Vanessa makes some very good points. This whole business stems from the launch of Ari Seth Cohen's blog "Advanced Style" in 2010. The stylistas he chronicles are not just old, they are elderly and can be a bit eccentric. But all seem charming and have one thing in common— courage. "Advanced Style" spawned a book and a documentary but not much in the way of influencing fashion. A number of women (and men) have since become lionized for style they've had for ages— Iris Apfel, Betty Halbreicht and Nick Wooster among them. If Diana Vreeland were still alive she would be too.

Isabella too old at 44...
... at 61 and beautiful as ever

It's nice that Julia Roberts, age 47 (a youngster in my book), is the new face of Givenchy. It still rankles that Isabella Rossellini was fired from Lancome at 44 for being too old. It's lovely that Helen Mirren (69), Charlotte Rampling (68) and Diane Keaton (69) are muses and models. They are each fashionable in her own way. But Joan Didion, age 80, representing Celine seems a bit of a joke. She's always looked like a mousy librarian afraid of her own shadow. And I fear the Dolce and Gabbana grandmas peppering their ads are only comic relief.

"Is that book overdue?"
D & G's nonnas

Vanessa reveals that the movers and shakers in fashion today are not spring chickens or young blades. Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani are in their 80s, as was the late Oscar de la Renta. Ralph Lauren is 75. Donna Karen, Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Wintour, Carine Roitfield are in their 60s.

All this attention doesn't add up to change in what appears on runways, in magazines, in stores. Luckily we're going through a generous fashion phase. You can wear skinny pants if you wish (or should), avoid them if that's a better fit. Tunic tops are "in" and can deflect a multitude of sins, but it's not enough to throw on any old one and think you've nailed it. Fashion requires a bit of work. That's why looking good is such a nice accomplishment.

I've coined the term WOACA (Women of a Certain Age), though I'm the only person who uses it. Don't you think it has a nice ring?
We're here,
we're proud,
we're not going away,
and if you're lucky you'll be one too.

* "Respect Your Elders: Is fashion's love for older women, like Joan Didion, sincere?" by Vanessa Friedman, The New York Times, January 8, 2015

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