New York Fashion Week has come and gone, but a couple of age-defying milestones will remain.
Carmen Dell'Orefice, the 81-year-old supermodel who landed her first Vogue cover in 1947, strutted down the runways at Marimekko and Norisol Ferrari and became the oldest woman ever to appear on the catwalk.
A couple of days later Betsey Johnson celebrated her 70th birthday, ending her show as she has always done by performing a cartwheel and a split.
And what was most remarkable about these thrilling moments is that both Dell'Orefice and Johnson flaunted strong beauty trends you might expect to see on twenty-somethings.
At Marimekko, Dell'Orefice wore dramatically winged parrot green eyeliner and warm terracotta hues on her lips and cheeks, which playfully amplified the collection's cheery bright prints. Meanwhile, Johnson sported her signature fire-engine red lips and smoky kohl eyes that harkened back to the rock 'n' roll culture from which she emerged as a designer.
It used to be that people would say older women looked foolish if they tried to wear high-fashion looks, like electric-colored eyeliner, shimmery shadow and neon lips. Beauty trends (and apparently all the fun, too) are for the young ladies, they would claim. Some makeup experts even advise that certain shades—like blue—should be sworn off once one graduates to middle age.
But when Dell'Orefice and Johnson took their spins on the runway alongside the usual coltish models, they didn't wear age-appropriate or toned-down versions of the makeup. No, they went full out just like the other girls.
So should women of a certain age follow suit and go to town with any beauty look they want to try?
I think it entirely depends on the intent.
If your goal is to look younger, as it is for many women as they apply makeup, proceed with caution. It's true that certain products and application techniques emphasize fine lines and wrinkles, drawing attention to areas you might rather not spotlight.
Take, for example, a common beauty rule. "People always think you can't wear shimmer after 30," says Lancôme Beauty at Every Age expert Sandy Linter. "The trick is to look for finely ground powder that blends smoothly over skin, and then the shimmer will look like a beautiful glow, no matter what your age."
If, on the other hand, your main drive is to experiment with makeup as a creative outlet, or to just have some fun, don't let some outdated and irrelevant rules stop you.
Johnson said it best when I interviewed her two years ago at New York Fashion Week. I asked if she had any personal style rules. "I'm a big DON'T!" she laughed in response, while gesturing to her schoolgirl skirt and ripped fishnet leggings. "But isn't that why people dig my stuff?"
Do you think it's okay for older women to experiment with beauty trends?
Photo: Getty Images