The first beautiful thing I ever wore belonged to my grandmother; a battleship-grey cardigan, made in Australia, and 100% wool. It was nothing fancy, but that was not the point. It was beautiful because it was my grandmother’s; the very first style icon that I had ever known. But over time the well-dressed women I admired began to look much different. Fashion magazines had introduced me to a new style icon; she was porcelain-skinned, tall and sylphlike, and she was young. There seemed to exist a subconscious belief that with old age came a passive resignation to comfort shoes, knitwear and elasticized waistbands. But in recent times, older women (and older men) have reemerged in popular culture as stylish and discerning creatures, ones that are just as (if not more) capable of coordinating runway-worthy ensembles as those half their age.
It’s this senior style and élan that was on display at Sunday’s ‘Don’t stop me now!’ runway show, presented by the University of the Third Age. With a combined age of 1054 years, a brave cast of senior models hit the catwalk, flaunting equal measures of elegance and swagger, and proving that old age can only stop you if you let it. The first runway of its kind featured in the festival, the show provided a stage for Melbourne’s senior demographic to prove that fashion comes in all different shapes and sizes, and all different ages too. The models may not have been wearing Armani or Chanel, but they had a certain something else that one can’t keep in their wardrobe, a certain something else we can all learn from. The ability to say, this is who I am, and the confidence to demand, don’t dare stop me now. In an age where fashion seems preoccupied with all that is new, fresh and youthful; the senior’s runway exposed a somewhat underrepresented population of people who are just as relevant (and well-dressed) as audiences half their age. Style may be seasonal; but it does not have a shelf life.