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I’m not one for experimenting with/wearing much make-up but I do like these photos of 72-year-old Loulou Van Damme. ‘You’re never too old to try daring beauty trends’ is a feature for ELLE India. Born in India of Belgium parentage, designer/stylist Van Damme spent time in London and Brussels before moving back to India for good at the age of 50. Where she now designs clothes, styles interiors and models.

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Elle, Loulou Van Damme-1

I’m more likely to opt for a bright nail varnish than a strong lipstick, to go for khaki over absinthe eye shadow but it’s fascinating to see what a difference a small change of colour can bring – just look at the media reaction to Helen Mirren’s pink rinse – and it’s wonderful to see it on a woman in her seventies.

This story was conceptualised by ELLE’s beauty and health editor, Mamta Mody. Styled by Nidhi Jacob. Hair and make-up by Sandhya Shekar. Photographed by Sushant Chhabria. There’s a written feature on Loulou Van Damme in the New York Times HERE

And here are some beauty products you’re never too old for…

72 thoughts on “Ageless beauty: 72-year-old Loulou Van Damme

  1. I was shocked when I saw these pictures! Sorry but she would be good for 82, not 72. A warning to all sun worshippers perhaps!

    1. Then you missed the point. Youth is not the end all to beauty. And you can be chic at ANY age, regardless of not looking perfect like the media tells us. Lou Lou looks darn chic and strong and confident. It is a shame that you cannot see past that. We don’t know her story with regards to skincare, but who cares?! Should she be in hiding ? Let this be a story on courage and self acceptance and being chic. We don’t have much control over how we age but we do have it for self talk and self acceptance. BRAVO luolou.

  2. Thank you as always for your thoughtful and fun blog. I am 41 and your blog makes me excited about time moving onward, as opposed to a fair amount of mainstream media which encourages me to feel fearful.

  3. Bloody lovely. I always wear bright lipstick, usually red or hot pink, it brings your face to life. Give it a go – life’s too short to play safe!

  4. Prefer the boldness of the absinthe eye pencil over the bold lips…..though encouraged by Jane’s promise that it will bring my face to life….I think I’ll give it a go!

  5. I love all the pix, but she’d look great too without any ‘help’ at all. Her face is so full of strength, individuality and character.

  6. She’s just beautiful..and I love all the makeup ideas…especially the red lipstick and the green shadow.

  7. Not crazy about the dark lipstick. It’s actually jarring on her. But then again it would look severe on most people. But the pink is lovely and I like the green eyeliner. It takes your eye straight to hers.

  8. Love these pics! Especially the bright green eyeliner – and the earrings! Much more inspiring than the usual insipid makeup suggestions for older women in magazines. Hats off to her!

  9. The makeup is fine. But–it is that spectacular head of hair and that freakin’ amazing cut that I simply cannot get out of my mind. Wow. Just. Wow! I’m jealous!

  10. Fascinating what a difference one makeup focus makes! Of course, she has the most marvellous face — beauty and intellect both equally obvious. That fringed faded denim neckline — so luxe, I love it, and it frames the photo so brilliantly. Have to say, though, that once again, celebrating an older model (which I do, absolutely!), we’re still hewing to the same body type (at least, that still-gorgeous neck undoubtedly sits atop a long, slim body, right? Sometimes it would be so nice to see that short-and-sturdies like myself might be considered representable in our older days. . . . (especially since I’ve given up trying to be 5’7″ and 120 pounds when I grow up).

  11. I would love to know which products they are but most only click through to first page of Space apothecary and don’t idenify any further

    1. Hi Maria, I just tried clicking on a couple and it was fine from this end. Did you see a pop-up box with the different regions to click on? Please try again and let me know. Thanks, Alyson

  12. She is beautiful, and I love her hair and lipstick. I am certain she hasn’t had any “work” done on her face, and her wrinkles are a result of a long, interesting life. I have to wonder, however, as someone who meticulously applies sunscreen every day–sometimes twice a day–if she used it. The sun can be so strong in India, and I wonder what difference protecting her skin would have made. A moot point, perhaps, but I really don’t mean this in a nasty way. She’s still beautiful with the wrinkles.

    1. Cigarettes. Guaranteed. You see the same all over Europe – beautiful women immaculately dressed but with utterly ravaged faces from the ciggies.

  13. She is so beautiful and wears her age proudly! What an inspiration. She reminds me a bit of the actress Judy Davis, who is also an inspiration. I love these photos and have printed one to put on my inspiration board at home.

  14. Love this! Love your blog!
    You continue to write in a thoughtful, interesting way about women and what makes us tick. So many blogs have become sales platforms or ‘look at me’ situations. No content. Repetitive. Lots of shill. Thank you for keeping yours real and relevant.

  15. WOW! What amazing images. I particularly like the one of her with the single line of lime green on her eyes. I’m not so crazy about the one with the dark lipstick. It is brilliant to see women of all ages experiment with makeup though, to play and enhance and enjoy the art of it.

  16. She is beautiful, period. For those who are obsessed about wrinkles, you better get used to it because if you live long enough you will have them. Why don’t we start respecting the aging process and see beauty in all faces. Constantly obsessing and trying to look young is not the process of life span. Trying to look 40 at 70, just makes you look ridiculous. The thought that ran through my mind after thinking she was beautiful was her hair style and clothes were modern and stylish and amazing! Just because you age doesn’t mean you can’t express yourself and wear a hair style and clothes that reflect how you feel . . .alive and loving being so! Peace! Cheryl

    1. I agree. IF we are lucky, we will live long lives too – and wrinkles are what happens, folks! When I was younger I had a lot of elderly female relatives, and knew these lovely women with their long-lived faces. It was normal then, but many people now grow up far away from their extended families and never actually see, let alone know, anyone who looks like this amazing lady. None of my lot had that sort of style, though. Now there’s something to aim for!

  17. I am entranced by the green eyeliner. Want the blue sweater. And blown away by her attitude complimented, in my opinion, by the one earring. Thank you so much for bringing these amazing women to your blog. Such inspiration!

  18. Quite saddened by the comments about sun and ciggies. Not everyone wants Botox and beige perfection. This woman looks absolutely drop dead gorgeous in a real ‘lived my life, my way’ style and I applaud her for looking that bloody great. She has style, class and confidence and I think the glossy burgundy lipstick looks triumphant!

  19. To heck with what her skin looks like, check out the NYTimes story on her (Alyson gives the link above) – this woman’s got style in spades!

  20. Now there’s a Woman who has LIVED! You can see it in her confidence, her eyes, her face, and yes! her wrinkles! I see a woman who enjoyed the sun, who fell in love often (!), and spent time on the beach with her beloved(s), who lived in exotic places and experienced LIFE! How sad for you to say she looks 80 and not 72! Perhaps she has 80 years of glorious living crammed into 72? Yeah, I’d say that is more like it. You go through life worrying about wrinkles, I’ll go through life having adventures and experiences that become part of who I am.

  21. So much fun to read all these comments! The woman is beautiful! To all those who think she’s a smoker or sun worshipper, maybe she is maybe not, some people just wrinkle more than others. I agree with all those praising you Alyson, your blog is a cut above in all ways.

  22. Thank you for this inspiring post! She may not be slightly plump (which I’m still looking for), but at least she has real wrinkles.

  23. To agree with Patrish – a refreshing blog that is not self-promotion or a sales pitch. One of a kind and long may it last!

  24. Honestly, my first thought was how incredibly exciting it is to see a wrinkled face! I swear I’d thought they’d been outlawed. She’s gorgeous. Love the playfulness of the different looks, even though I rarely wear makeup.

  25. Love your blog that features people such as this lady that I, otherwise, may have never heard about. She is remarkable and inspiration even to this 81 year old who is still searching for that elusive makeup that will transform my wrinkles and hide my age spots. Most of us, it seems, have bought into camouflaging/hiding our imperfections. We need to see more strong women such as Loulou to demonstrate how to grow old. Loved reading about her life.

  26. The longer I look the more lovely she becomes. Piercing eyes, stunning hair, great attitude… Would love to see
    her fashion collection. Thanks !

  27. thank you. Her look is so refreshing given that most older models have the jawlines of teenagers, which is of course lovely but not the only way to age. more please!

  28. I know my big mouth is going to get me in trouble but this is a post about a woman’s choices on wearing different cosmetics. Whether she smokes the cigs or whether she bakes in the sun isn’t and should not be an issue. Some of these replies are proof that we women are our own worst enemies.

    She’s older. We are all going that same route. We are all gonna get wrinkles. It is a part of ageing. Whatever she does or doesn’t do, I think she looks great. This is a post about a woman and her changing up makeup. Period.

  29. At first, the wrinkles. And then, the lovely features, the hairstyle, the attitude. What a beautiful woman!

  30. Where can I get that green eyeshadow? Any of you lovely ladies have an idea where this can be purchased?

  31. There were some very unkind comments made about this woman’s skin. Unthinkably rude. Do you think that she is not going to see your nasty words. Yes, talking to you … Linda, Jackie and Julie. Shame, didn’t your mother’s teach you better than to be bullies!

  32. I disagree that comments about her skin are bullying…she is lovely, and I would kill for her hair, but she is severely wrinkled for someone her age. If she’s going to be presented as a beauty icon, it isn’t unreasonable for people to comment on aspects of her appearance! Yes, we all have, or will have, wrinkles. But I know lots of women her age or older, and NONE are nearly that wrinkled. So the sunscreen/smoking comments are not out of line IMO. Doesn’t mean she isn’t a lovely and interesting woman.

  33. Jill Ann, I agree. We see what we see and should not be shamed for it.
    Ms. Van Damme looks great and has a gorgeous head of hair, but her facial skin is extremely wrinkled for a seventy two year old.
    That doesn’t make her unattractive, and seeing it doesn’t make me or anyone else hateful.

  34. I think this is fantastic & would love to see more of the same. However I still for the life of me don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Why the hell is it such a big deal for older women to wear make up & do their hair? Blimey what crazy world do we live in!

  35. I’ve read several comments now about how unkind the remarks were about sun and ciggies.

    I don’t think they were meant unkindly — more to say, “Ladies, please, if you think this is 72, please don’t.” It may be for Van Damme, who, heavens, has fantastic bones and character stamped all over her. But at 72, all those wrinkles were likely a choice, either sun or whatever. Most of my 72 year old friends (who don’t have the benefit of Van Damme’s good bone structure) appear as much as a decade younger. That is not a criticism — just an observation. Van Damme is good looking, whatever her age. But my guess is that, had she chosen to drown in sunscreen and/or not smoke, she’d have subtracted several years from her appearance. Again, her choice, and I’m not disagreeing with her (actually loving the fact that she has lived like as she wanted to). She has a great face, and perhaps the real message is “whatever number is attached to it.”

  36. So sad to see remarks about smoking, Europe and sun bathing! I have no idea if she did or didn’t. And if she did, so what? It was other times, other ideals. In 30 – 40 years people will complain about what we are doing!
    Why not try to see her life and beauty instead of complaining at the choices she might have done in her life…
    We only have one life so why not enjoy it?
    To me this lady is super cool and that dark red lipstick is absolutely fab on her, and I wish more women would dare to step out of the beige zone and use colours no matter age, life choices or bodies…

  37. Yes, her skin hasn’t aged well but what comes through is elegance and attitude. Would much rather look at Loulou than Iris Apfel.

  38. Winkles are our life lines….LouLou (Lord what a great name!) seems to have lived a very fulfilled life…and I’m sure she continues! I’m also sure sun and cigs added some furrows too…but you know I bet she can make you laugh until you wet your pants…God I need to do that right now!!! Nothing heals the soul better that a good laugh!! I’d love to have dinner with her and stroll down the street and hear all the stories that she has to tell!! When we all can accept how God intends us to be, the better off we’d all be…chasing the no winkles, no cellulite, no hair (sparingly) and all that comes with age is nil! Embrace life and enjoy each and every day!! The alternative is not so good! I’m 73 and thank God every day for all my many blessings!

  39. I live in Portugal and we have 10 to 11 months of sun around here.
    People from north of Europe come to Portugal to get their vitamin D 😉
    I must say that my almost 95-year-old-GrandMother has better skin then this 72-year-old-lady!
    I know external beauty is not the only beauty that matters but you can not forget to take care of your skin.
    Too much sun will damage your skin and you can get cancer too.
    In spite of that, I think the lady’s skin tell us a lot about her life and her personality 🙂

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