Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Granny Chic

Recently a frightening thing has happened to me..I have started to become OLD. Now, there is nothing wrong in becoming old gracefully with style and class and hopefully a wardrobe of Balenciaga or Westwood at my back but going grey at 26 is not to be born. GREY HAIR and I'm only just past the age of having a Young Persons Railcard!! I should have realised it was a matter of time, Asian hair does tend to grey earlier and one of the downsides of being genetically endowed with black glossy locks is that the little buggers stand out more than they would do on a blondie.  Perhaps the appearance of these wispy, translucent follicles has also affected my brain, this week I have decided to start a pension, done lots of work on my tapestry and very nearly bought a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches.  On the flip side to this I've been to Shoreditch House, The Duke of Cambridge (London's only fully organic pub I believe) and discovered a fabulous Mad Men-esque cocktail bar in my hood and not got back home before 1am and it's only Wednesday.  There's life in the old girl yet!

In fashion however, age has been creeping in...The sphere where youth and beauty reign supreme has started to usher in a New Generation..except they ain't new, 15 year old Justin Bieber listening, Twihard reading nymphets, this is the old guard coming back.  Next season's Dolce & Gabbana advertising campaign, unveiled last week, stars Madonna (51). Hot label of the moment Celine – the campaign every model must have wanted this season – has chosen a veteran face from the 1990s superwaif era, Emma Balfour (40). Balenciaga stars Stella Tennant (39); Louis Vuitton, whose new collection was dubbed "And God Created Woman" by designer Marc Jacobs, featured Elle Macpherson (47) on the catwalk and stars Christy Turlington (41) in its latest print campaign.

                                                         Elle on the catwalk at Vuitton

Such common sense is completely revolutionary. Until recently, few in the industry would acknowledge that there was something a teensy bit shallow and moronic and possibly even dubious about taking a 16-year-old model with a head full of GCSE revision notes and dressing her up as a sophisticated femme fatale, arranging her supine on an unmade hotel bed, while dripping with diamond bracelets and thousand-pound handbags and wearing a bored-of-it-all expression. Extreme youth was part and parcel of the fantasy of fashion.

The new visibility of older models is part of a shift in fashion from fantasy to wearability. For the past 10 years, one adjective has reigned supreme above others in fashion. If it was good – whether it was a model, a dress, a handbag – it was "fabulous". Fabulous, in the Oxford English Dictionary, has two meanings: extraordinary, and also "having no basis in reality; mythical". Our obsession with fabulousness was always very much about a yearning for the impossible, a boomtime obsession with pushing boundaries. The word feels, now, like a compliment from another era.

The age of austerity dawned in fashion months before George Osborne got his hands on the keys to No 11. In March, the Paris catwalks were full of grown-up clothes in sensible, wearable colours. Easy-to-do ponytails and walkable-heeled shoes are hot topics in fashion right now.  Next month, the all-important September issues of the glossy magazines appear. Current industry rumour has it that the cover girls for the American giants run as follows: Julia Roberts for Elle, Halle Berry for Vogue, and Jennifer Aniston for Harpers Bazaar. If this is true, Aniston – at 41 – will be the youngest cover girl of the big three. If older women can reappear in fashion, then anything is possible..and maybe I'll keep my grey hairs...

And favourite older 79, Carmen dell Orefice.  Please may I age like her?

Lastly, shot in Paris, August, 1957 by Richard Avedon

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