On 29th and 30th of October, LCF hosted Mirror Mirror, a pioneering conference on fashion, culture, age and ageing. Alongside leading academics in the field, the conference also welcomed popular cultural figures and commentators to explore style and age.
The conference culminated in a panel discussion between LCF’s Amber Butchart and four of the stars of Channel 4’s hit documentary, Fabulous Fashionistas. Bridget Soujourna, Sue Kreitzman, Jean Woods and Daphne Selfe, all over 70, discussed their unique style and imparted wisdom about youth and old age.
The stars revealed that they each source clothes from a mixture of charity shops, vintage shops and by handcrafting their own pieces. Sue collects fabrics and works with others to turn them into her adorned jackets, whilst Daphne used to create her own outfits for special occasions as she couldn’t afford to buy them.
Having garnered quite a fan base of both young and old since the documentary, the stars were keen to take up their fame in order to show a side to ageing that resists negative stereotypes and to offer their advice to young people, who they agreed face greater pressures because of the economic climate than previous generations.
The panel discussed the key to lasting style. Gene summed up their philosophy:
“Be true to yourself. If you feel it suits you, that’s good enough. Those things at the back of the wardrobe – just wear them!”
Bridget added, “And make a statement!”
Another set of older ladies who would undoubtedly agree with the Fabulous Fashionista’s style advice, are Ari Seth Cohen’s subjects, whom he started noticing and photographing on the streets of New York. A blogger, photographer and filmmaker, Ari has made it his mission to capture the incredible fashion statements of the older generation. Ari joined Alyson Walsh, writer of the That’s Not My Age blog, for a conversation about age and style.
Ari revealed the stories behind his subjects: Ruth who at 102 keeps fit with Pilates; Ilona, a painter who makes her own incredible eyelash extensions and cares for her lifelong best friend who now suffers with dementia.
— Lori Smith (@lipsticklori) October 29, 2013
Alyson meanwhile jokingly revealed the motivations behind her style and culture blog:
“My blog is like my midlife crisis online. It’s me looking at what I’ve done and what I need to do at this stage in my life.”
She discussed the importance of blogging culture in creating a conversation around older fashion:
“Blogging is an important platform for older women to create communities around style and ageing. There’s a power in seeing these stylish women of all different ages and I think that’s fabulous.”
Theatre group Small Things, also opened up conversations around ageing in a unique and moving way. Seven performers revealed their memories and treasured moments, taking the audience into an intimate world involving the discovery of an illustration of a song bird in an old book, a description of a beautiful 1940s dress, and a moment by the Balaeric Sea.
Alongside the talks and performances, was an exhibition featuring portraits by Kate Munro, Kristin Perers, and LCF’s Keara Stewart. Kate’s ‘Laughter Lines’ came out of her work with the residents of the Silk Court Care Home in Tower Hamlets, whilst fashion photographer Kristin captured 50 women in their 50s who possess style and grace in ‘This Is 50’. Keara meanwhile, also worked at the Silk Court Care Home to produce intimate, hand-drawn portraits of the residents.
Together these artists, writers and style icons go to prove Sue Kreitzman’s final word on age and appearance:
“Don’t ask if I’m beautiful in my age. Beauty has nothing to do with it. What matters is character. Our faces show who we are, and they show that we’re happy.”