There have been a couple of articles recently on fashion’s ‘greynaissance’. I know. The Business of Fashion’s ‘Meet fashion’s next generation: Over 60s’ discusses the proliferation of companies using older models such as Lyn Slater and Maye Musk in order to entice customers and ‘serve as storytellers, rather than just faces who sell a garment’. And a similar feature in the New Statesman entitled, ‘Meet the over-60s supermodels: how a greynaissance is sweeping through fashion,’ concludes that while we’re moving down the right path, more diversity is required.
Older women are no longer being ignored by the fashion industry and that is good news. Much as I admire this greynaissance, I agree with the New Statesman. We’re in danger of moving from invisibility in fashion advertising and the media, to age-appreciation of a stereotypical variety. We’re allowed to ‘love our age’ and get old, but only if we look a certain way. There are many different ways of ageing – many different decades, body shapes, ethnicities, sizes. What we need is to see this diversity reflected back at us.
Having written about this issue for a decade, I do enjoy seeing this shift in attitudes, vocabulary and imagery – I guess what we’re witnessing now is just the start of the revolution (grey-volution?). Hopefully we will reach a point where we’re no longer talking about age and older models. Here’s what greynaissance model Jan de Villeneuve said to the New Statesman about modelling, confidence and age:
‘I think I do prefer modelling now that I’m older. It’s more compatible with my general spirit. Here I am, wrinkles and all, and people simply have to accept that. When I was younger, I never really felt that I was beautiful, I was very insecure. These days I’m much happier. I stopped colouring my hair years ago, and it felt very good to not worry about keeping up with some impossible image. It’s easier getting older, I look the way I look and that’s that!’
‘I get a lot of very supportive messages from teenage girls and girls in their early 20s, they seem particularly inspired by the images and tell me how beautiful I look. And older women say how happy they are to see someone who has aged naturally. I haven’t had any work done, and it seems to give women a sense of relief to find you can still look good in your 70s without expensive or invasive surgery.’
If we are storytelling then this is the happy ending. So far…
Here’s a feature on this issue I wrote for the Guardian last year.