THE AGEING BODY OF FASHION: THE GOODIES AND THE BADDIES

Baddie W 5

A fashion model is always associated with youthfulness. A model must always be young, energetic, and modern, and dressed in the latest fashion, they are supposed to represent the aspirational woman. The Gigi’s, the Kendall’s and the Bellas all fit into the narrow age slot of twenty to twenty-four. Flipping through old and current fashion magazines there are countless editorials of the young and beautiful, wrapped in haute couture. But do these icons disappear once they hit a certain age? 

Certainly, original supermodels Linda, Christy and Naomi would beg to differ and it is becoming clear that we are shifting from admiring the endless identical campaigns of Instagram sensations backed by old favourite fashion houses. We are starting to pine for differences; a difference in every little detail. The fashion world seems to be adapting to more inclusive, diverse values and is opening their arms with acceptance for all types of people. It is refreshing to see that race, age, and religion is something that is visibly shaping the face of fashion, its runways and muses. Is fashion attempting to provoke a more progressive route with new golden oldies on the runway?

Vetements, Fall 2017
Vetements, Fall 2017

Vetements, Fall 2017 show graced the fashion world with a shimmering silver-haired model. Opening the collection, the model wore dark glasses round glasses, an embroidered burgundy pencil skirt, layered with fabulous fur. Vetements is recognised for its avant-garde streetwear for the young and bold. Representing a different age group not only opened up Vetements to new audiences but also curated a striking fresh force for more representative runways. With her 100th fashion show, Dries Van Noten celebrated her collection with older models showcasing her latest work. From familiar faces like the 39-year-old Erin O’Connor to London Girl 80s icon Cecilia Chancellor, now age 50, and forever favourite 42-year-old Amber Valletta. 

And then there’s Baddie Winkle. Rising to fame at the age of eighty-five, Kentucky-born Helen Van Winkle, became instantly internet iconic and now has 3 million followers on Instagram. From Fashion Nova’s latex look, a tie dye tee and cap combo, to a scarlet red plunging catsuit, Baddie proves that dress does not define age, and that age most certainly does not dictate dress. With a fan base of millennials and the fresh-faced Gen Zs, Baddie’s collaborations with couture powerhouses are quick to impress, emphasising how the fashion world is shifting towards the bottom-up.

Late last year, Baddie blessed us all with a collaboration with the online megastore Misguided. The brand is mostly worn by teens to young adults but this did not stop the eighty-eight-year-old to strut her stuff and show us how carefree she is. Helen gave Refinery29 some light into why she is so carefree and therefore inspirational. She outlined that it all came from grief after members of her family passed away. “So I made myself over into Baddie Winkle. This new chapter in my life, I’m looking forward to it. It’s got more interesting as a matter of fact. But, right down deep, I don’t think I’ve changed all that much.”

Baddie Winkle in infamous Latex Dress
Baddie Winkle in infamous Latex Dress

Misguided is not a brand that is defined when it comes to age, earlier this last year forty-nine-year-old Pamela Anderson was the face of the Spring Summer 2016 Campaign. There is a gap when it comes to representation and diversity within fashion when it comes to race, gender and age and it looks like the gap is slowly closing.

Seeing Baddie Winkle in her amazing outfits and the amount of support she receives has led us to question, how older people are currently being viewed in fashion. Dating back to the eighteenth century with European dress treatises for women, wives and widows, age has often defined the way we are supposed to represent ourselves. However, with figures like Baddie along with Vetements’ models, fashion appears to be breaking this dated mould, and age is no longer performed through dress, but rather celebrated. In the future, we may see all types of women dressing in whatever they please regardless of age, responses and what may be deemed suitable.

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