The cover girl on the October edition of Vogue Italia was strikingly special. She had style, substance and carried her Valentino with aplomb, but unlike her nubile predecessors, she has seen 70 seasons under the sun!
Lauren Hutton, at 73, debunked many stereotypes as she became the oldest cover girl ever to feature on the Vogue cover. But Hutton wasn’t the only “aging” model on the pages; the entire issue was dedicated to women over the age of 60. Called the “Timeless Issue,” the edition sparked both interest and intrigue as perhaps for the first time, aging women were celebrated as glamorous.
Talking about this important age-inclusive moment in fashion, Vogue Italia’s editor-in-chief Emanuel Farneti told the media: “The question to ask isn’t ‘Is old age having a fashion moment?’— the answer, in fact, is yes. Rather, we think that it is about inclusive diversity, the real challenge of today. This relates to gender, ethnicity, and religion, and it is also true for age —no one feels excluded.”
Vogue Italia had made equally bold statements earlier with The Black Issue (2008) and The Curvy Issue (2011).
The cover girl, Hutton, a fashion industry veteran, realizes the monumental impact this nod to age-inclusivity could create:
“I’ve had a record 27 covers of American Vogue, and I’ve had 13 other Vogue covers, but this is the most important I have ever done, the one that has made me feel most useful.”
She added: “I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but it took Vogue Italia’s courage to make it true. This is a cover that can change society, because it shows a woman who is vibrant, attractive, who still laughs, and who for the first time is a woman my age.”
For many years now, there has been talk of inclusivity in fashion and what began with color and size is now expanding to age. 60 plus fashion icons are finding a spot on fashion platforms. Refreshingly, after years of photo-shopping cellulite, fashion glossies are discovering fashion in grey hair and wrinkled skin.
Recently, American cosmetic brand, CoverGirl, announced as its new brand ambassador 69-year-old, model and nutritionist Maye Musk. In a world obsessed with age, Maye’s fashion journey has been remarkable. She was featured in various fashion magazines, has starred in campaigns for Clinique and Target and has also appeared in Beyoncé’s 2013, music video Haunted. Marking another significant moment in fashion, actress and icon Jane Fonda made her runway debut at the Paris Fashion Week, last fall.
The age-inclusive momentum has been building up in power fashion corridors. At 72, Helen Mirren was the cover girl for Allure magazine’s September issue. Even more significantly, the magazine announced that it would no longer write about anti-aging products.
So, what does this age-defying moment signify? Does it announce a newer, stronger form of feminism that defies ideals of stereotypical beauty or is it a natural progression of the organic movement which embraces beauty with its natural “flaws?”
Ripples of the age-inclusive movement are also touching India, a market particularly biased toward younger ideals of beauty.
The October issue of Elle India featured 96-year-old New York grand dame of fashion Iris Apfel. In country where married actresses suddenly find themselves with scarce work in Bollywood, seeing a full-of-life, funky fashionista nearing a century as the cover girl was sure to be noticed.
There are other breaches. Actresses Jaya Bachchan and Dimple Kapadia have graced covers and even though they do come with a certain lineage, they represent icons of a past age.
Taking the movement beyond the glossies into the realm of relatable fashion, Indian textile designer Chinar Farooqui chose a rather unusual but charming model to showcase her Injiri designs — 70 something style icon and entrepreneur Isla Van Damme.
Even though Farooqui’s collection does not target a specific age group, she made the bold choice of showing a real woman in her ageing glory as the model.
Farooqui says: “Van Damme caught my attention when I met her at a launch in Mumbai. She works closely as a stylist and visual merchandizer. I found that she is extremely comfortable as though the clothes belong to her and she aged in them. And eight years later I decided to use a real person who made the clothes look even more timeless.”
As fashion moves beyond size and age, be ready for more happy sightings of women with grey hair and wrinkled skin.