I came across this article in a departure lounge last December. Following this week’s Size Debate it got me thinking about that other taboo – Age. Fashion is undoubtedly youth-obssessed above all things. Whether models are skinny or “normal” sized the one thing they’ll share in common is youth. A fat older lady? Forget it, that just pushes things a little bit too far. Apparently new clothes and old bodies don’t mix.
British Harper’s Bazaar, January 2010
Photography_ Sofia & Mauro
Styling_ Carmen Borgonovo
Irony Number 1.
We live in an ageing population. In about 40 years time the global average age will be about 37.1. In Japan there are about 9 people under 20 for every person over 65. By 2025 the ratio will halve. So the Blue Rinsers are one of the fastest growing consumer groups. How does the fashion industry respond to this. Well, by projecting an image of unattainable youth, of course. Odd, no? Considering that its women in their late thirties upwards who have the disposable income to spend on designer frocks and other luxury products. The cosmetics industry operates by enhancing a fear of ageing but it still predominantly targets women with air-brushed images of Eastern European teens. Darlings, granny gots the cash!
Irony Number 2.
Some of the world’s key image makers are, if not already, a mere grey hair shy of becoming an old age pensioner. Miuccia Prada, Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, Carine Roitfeld… The latter perhaps sets the best example of how a middle-aged woman can be sexy but flick through the pages of French Vogue. Nah, still in the Teen Ages. Older women seem to be relegated to celebrity profiles or the token annual “beauty through the ages” specials. How patronising! You can buy but just don’t look it.
The fashion industry is toying with the idea, skirting round the issue, so to speak. See an airbrushed Madonna in the Louis Vuitton ad campaigns or the odd editorial or campaign with the now forty something Supermodels. Older women are now in better shape, lead more active lifestyles, have longer careers, still have sex [shock! they always did] and want to feel desirable and sexy. Youthful, also, but not young.
Charlotte Rampling illustrates this perfectly. She looks bloody amazing. See also Meryl Streep, Sharon Stone, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton… The list goes on. These women are the future. Forget the size debate, older women is where its at.