GRACE'S MUSINGS: Grey hair, do care

GRACE'S MUSINGS: Grey hair, do care

“Beauty has no age, beauty has no boundaries.” Sounds a lot like me, doesn’t it? Interestingly, the speaker was, in fact, Balmain’s creative director, Olivier Rousteing, after his February show in Paris. Finally, the high-end brands are getting it. And at London Fashion Week, too, it was the silver-haired sophisticates, rather than the gawky ingénue models, who stole the limelight on the catwalk.

JW Anderson set the pace with his models in salt-and-pepper wigs styled in tight ringlets. So far, so good. I’m less impressed by the fact that the look was labelled “youthful grandma” and “granny chic” on social media. While we’re clearly edging nearer to age inclusivity, labels like these show we’ve still got a long way to go.

Rousteing is huge with the Instagram generation, so let’s hope the message gets through. “This is the vision, casting for the future,” he said back in February. “Let’s change the codes and clichés of beauty in fashion.” That’s precisely the ethos behind the PRO AGE movement we champion at Studio10.

Supermodel Kristen McMenamy, known for her long white hair, walked for Thom Browne in New York in an Edgar Allan Poe-inspired show, rocking gravity-defying plaits. She wore a hip-grazing dress at Vivienne Westwood. There’s nothing “granny” about that.

We need to keep fighting the fashion and beauty industries’ focus on youth. We’ve got to celebrate the beauty that comes with age, and front up to those who don’t seem to understand that anything else is just discrimination – the last acceptable kind.

It was casting director Calvin Wilson who was ultimately responsible for recruiting models to walk in Rousteing’s show. “You do see some age diversity on the runway these days, but it’s often women you know, or remember from a previous heyday,” he told The Telegraph. “With this, we wanted people to look and just say, wow, who is that amazing woman?’”

That’s the kind of language I love, acknowledging the upsides of age and experience. These wonderful midlife women are certainly more reflective of the customer who ultimately buys the clothes on offer, too. Fashion is not just the privilege of youth, whatever the advertising industry might suggest.

Meanwhile, the grey hair movement continues to grow on Instagram. The hashtag #greyhairdontcare has been used more than 539,000 times to date, and grey-hair influencer Jin Cruce has racked up more than a million followers. Anna Murphy, fashion director of The Times, has written at length about her decision to embrace the grey in an industry that values youth above all else.

But in the real world, in a study published in the Journal of Women & Aging, the 80 women canvassed said they felt that if they went grey, they’d be judged for “letting themselves go”. Even worse, research suggests that those with grey hair are viewed as less competent in the workplace. It’s no wonder keeping the greys at bay has become yet another beauty standard we often feel obliged to uphold.

It’s vital that grey hair on the catwalk becomes more than just a one-season trend, and actually trickles down into real life. Bethany Nagy, who was also in that Balmain show, has been working as a model since 1995 – which gives her almost 30 years more experience than the majority of women she walked with. She believes the industry is evolving. “I think we are witnessing an important change,” she said. “It reflects the fact that fashion and style don’t have age limits.”

So, Olivier Rousteing, if you’re reading this, I’m delighted we’re finally on the same page. Let’s keep campaigning for change.

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