It’s that time of year again. The start of autumn and the Fashion Weeks have been in full flow – New York at the beginning of September, followed by London and Milan, and finishing the season this week in Paris – showcasing the Spring/Summer collections for 2020. They come with the usual extravagant flamboyancy that only haute couture fashion can get away with – and I love it!
A theatre of colours and creations parading the catwalks with models walking for an audience that holds some of the most illustrious buyers, fashion journalists and celebrities worldwide – and all of them equally outfitted for the occasion, mindful that they’re just as likely to be as endlessly photographed as the collections.
The shows have held the expected share of surprises and stunts. In New York, Barry Manilo, resplendent in a bright orange bejewelled jacket, warbled his way through ‘Copacabana’ on the runway for the Michael Kors show, and Lela Rose used an assortment of poodles and sheep dogs to showcase her new collection. But alongside all of this, it’s clear that the more traditional framework to the Fashion Weeks has most definitely shifted this year.
Rhianna’s showcase Savage X Fenty lingerie collection was stunning – slick, brazen and bold – AND, at long last, used a truly diverse group of women of all sizes. These shows are now not only highlighting environmental issues and women’s rights and diversity, but we are finally seeing the runways embrace the larger models and – yes –the older models. Hallelujah!
A number of modelling icons and designers made a return to walk the catwalks – Christy Turlington, Patti Hansen, Christine Brinkley, and Vivienne Westwood looking absolutely magnificent.
But there is one particular model, who opened the show for a Denver designer at New York Fashion Week back in February, who has really caught my attention.
Judith Boyd is beautiful, elegant, boldly original with colour and style – and she is 76 years old. Not only is she a mature model, she is also a very successful social media blogger (Style Crone) with over 50,000 followers on Instagram. Judith calls herself a Granfluencer, with a belief that ageism is divisive in separating the generations and something that she actively seeks to change.
Having spent most of her career as a psychiatric nurse in a hospital emergency department, Judith started blogging in 2010 as a way of coping with the devastation of her husband of 32 years long-term illness and eventual death in 2011 from cancer. She says they needed to try and focus on something lighter, and with her husband as the photographer, they produced a series of pictures together called ‘What to Wear to Chemo’, which began the basis of her blog.
It was this blogging that helped Judith through her grief and eventually gave her a renewed purpose. Interviewed for Metro, she said: “I carried on blogging to honour Nelson. When he died, it was so hard to think about going on without him, but the blog helped.”
For me Judith Boyd is truly inspiring. She has come through unimaginable grief with strength, tenacity and a huge sense of empathy to help those who are going through similar pain – and the aim of her blog is to do just that. She is a beautiful model, and Style Crone is an adventurous, powerful and creative blog. Her love of flamboyant hats – which accompany most of her outfits – and her powerful and dramatic use of colour in her clothing is pure art. She is exactly the kind of women we need to see on the catwalks!
So it’s an exciting time for emerging young designers to stand alongside the more familiar designers such as Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Stella McCartney, Donatella Versace, Victoria Beckham, Lagerfeld and so many more when the platform to showcase their collections has become so much more diverse. It’s moved away from the, quite frankly, artificial and almost illusory modelling image that Victoria’s Secret models in particular seem to embody. With women like Judith Boyd becoming more and more visible, we are beginning to see a true and realistic representation of women wearing these clothes – at any age and in any size – and I for one applaud that.