Each week our no-holds-barred contributor Grace Gold picks apart a hot beauty topic. It’s our version of an op-ed—with lipstick, laser treatments and eyeliner.
When it comes to the runways and magazines, and even street-style destinations, young women are continuously chosen to represent beauty ideals. But one blog is encouraging us to look beyond the fresh-faced to also find inspiration in women in their sixties and well beyond. And I, for one, have undergone a shift in my thinking as a result. Why shouldn't we better appreciate the senior set, especially when this blog proves that a confidence and savoir-faire regarding one's appearance can grow richer with age?
Advanced Style, created by Ari Seth Cohen, chronicles the clothing, makeup and hair looks put together by older ladies. The blog has become so popular that it has morphed into a coffee-table book in stores now, a documentary that will debut later this year and even a bit of a movement. Designer Marc Jacobs told Style.com that he drew his inspiration for his fall 2012 ready-to-wear show from fashion journalists Anna Piaggi, who passed away last week at the age of 81, and Lynn Yaeger. And in a June talk at the Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring teen blogger Tavi Gevinson and 90-year-old style icon Iris Apfel, Gevinson said she would focus on elder style if she were asked to curate the next Costume Institute exhibit. Lanvin is also showcasing fashion doyennes in its fall/winter advertising campaign.
"My eyes have always been drawn to older people," Cohen told the New York Times in an interview about his wildly influential site. "And from a style point of view, I find them more interesting because they are of an age where they don't have to impress anyone and can wear what they want."
The New York-based blogger, who finds most of the sartorial subjects on the streets of his home city, says his grandmother was his best friend growing up and his relationship with her is to be credited for his adulation.
Certainly the subjects of Advanced Style prove that adulation is deserved, and above and beyond cultural lip service about respecting women's looks as they age.
"When my students would ask my age, I used to say, 'I'm between 50 and death,' but now I'm very proud because it took a long time to get here!" says 90-year-old Ilona Royce Smithkin, who continues to perform as an artist wearing red lash strips custom-cut from her flame-orange hair.
Fashion show director Lynn Dell, meanwhile, urges readers to "dress for the theatre that is your life," advice that the 78-year-old takes to heart, with her Cleopatra-like eyeliner and dark red lips.
There's also 100-year-old Rose, who is drawn to fuchsia lipstick and proclaims, "If everyone is wearing it, then it's not for me."
These older women roar the message: be who you are, make yourself up as an individual, have a sense of humor about yourself and, for God's sake, wear some color. And that is a sentiment we should all be able to get behind.
What do you think of these older beauty icons?
Photo: Gitte Lee courtesy of Ari Seth Cohen from Advanced Style