Grey New World
Bo Gilbert. Carmen Herrara. Iris Apfel. Who are these women and what do they have in common? All are 90+ and bravely challenging the norms of the art and fashion landscapes. In the UK, recently created a campaign featuring 100-year old model Bo Gilbert to celebrate Vogue’s 100th anniversary. In the U.S., 101-year old Cuban-born artist Carmen Herrara just landed her first solo show in New York City’s Whitney Museum, after a lifelong career as an artist. And worldwide, at age 94, fashion icon Iris Apfel is making new waves after being the subject of Albert Maysle’s 2015 documentary, Iris.
We’re entering an exciting and inspiring new age in which being “old” is no longer a social and cultural death sentence. It’s no longer seen as the last phase of life, but simply a new phase wherein people have experience and fearlessness on their side. Therefore, thinking of age as a number is antiquated — age isn’t a number any more, it’s flat. The over 60 population is very different today than it was a generation ago. People are retiring later or not at all. They’re traveling more, starting new businesses, taking classes, and exercising more. It’s not about looking backwards and trying to recapture one’s youth; it’s about embracing this new phase of life and celebrating growing older. It’s about looking forward, to all of the possibilities the future might bring.Seniors today have become important influencers. They are redefining not only what it means to be old, but what it means to be alive. Things that were once only associated with ‘youth’ – e.g. beauty, fashion, sports, etc. – are now being shaped by this age group, with marketers and consumers alike turning to these platinum pioneers as a source of inspiration and influence. Brands and marketers can play an important role in supporting this movement, by tapping into this celebratory mindset and featuring seniors in more active, spirited roles.
In a way, we’ve come full circle to the tradition of ‘respect your elders’. But it’s not respecting them because of their past accomplishments; rather, it’s respecting them because of their contributions to the present, to the future. Embracing this movement will have widespread and lasting impact because this more optimistic vision of what’s to come resonates with people of all ages, not just seniors. It gives people something to look up to, something to look forward to. And that is certainly something worth celebrating.