Why menopause is the new black

Why menopause is the new black

Text: Brittany Lane

Age is 2017's hottest accessory

Every year, tyre company Pirelli spends millions of dollars on what might seem as anachronistic a product as fax machines and Juicy Couture track suits. It's a printed calendar featuring women in various states of undress. We know, it sounds like some kind of sexist 1970s throwback but they have somehow made it both beautiful and relevant by combining A-list subjects (think Amy Schumer and Serena Williams in 2016) with stellar photographers like Annie Liebowitz. This year's effort was photographed by Peter Lindbergh in the calendar's signature black and white and all the subjects were - how shall we say this? - of a certain vintage. Not only were they of an age where there were decades worth of candles on their birthday cakes, none were retouched. It was 13 statements in elegance, self-acceptance and, yes, sex appeal. Among the participants were Nicole Kidman (49), Helen Mirren (71), Robin Wright (50), Juliane Moore (56) and Charlotte Rampling (71).

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Were only one of these women included in this collection of ferocity, it might have been branded as tokenism but instead it's the vanguard of one of this year's most empowering trends. At the beginning of February, American magazine Sports Illustrated launched its vaunted swimsuit issue - which back in the day went a long way to catapulting the career of one Elle Macpherson. On the cover was Christie Brinkley. In a cutaway black one-piece, lightly tanned and smoking hot - at 63.

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For all its many positives, the fash biz all too frequently prostrates itself before the alter of youth, but many are starting to flip a slightly wrinkled bird to the concept that beauty only has one age. One of those at the forefront of the movement is New York blogger Ari Seth Cohen. His Advanced Style site started chronicling Manhattan women over 60 whose daily street style was a jaw-dropping, colour-celebrating, life-enhancing catwalk. The blog spawned a 2014 documentary and introduced the wider world to people like Iris Apfel - who is still turning heads on the Upper East Side at 95.

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It's also happening on the catwalk. In February, 85-year-old Carmen Dell'Orefice closed the Guo Pei couture show in Paris. Resplendent in a ruby gown, imperious and pale - like the love child of a Disney witch and Christian Dior - her impact was such that trumpeted "all hail your new queen". And Carmen isn't alone. Eighty-year-old Wang Deshun brought serious swagger to China Fashion Week walking for Sheghuang Hu.

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What remains to be seen is whether this trend transcends the novelty factor and begins to mirror a widening acceptance of what style means in 2017. And who is entitled to make it their own. Here's hoping...

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