In a world where anyone and everyone is considered to be a style icon. Where few have a vision of their own. Typically decided by stylists who want their client to appear ‘groomed’ and please everyone but never break the rules or upset the snobbish fascist fashionista. If there is one group who are especially undervalued by the fashion elite and popular culture, the older 50s. It seems that we expect women to dress in a sexy manner (but not too provocative). But once she hits her elder years, she MUST to more matronly, like a grandmother. Even if that is not who she is. Here are some of the dames who threw away the cardigans, sensible shoes and did it their way.
Milanese Born Piaggi was no one’s definition of a Plain Jane. With her flair for the bold and flamboyant (described as a mixture of Belle Époque and punk rock). Wearing wedding dresses in the day time and another dress based on magazine front covers. she was adored by many in the fashion industry including Stephen Jones, Manolo Blahnik and Karl Lagerfeld. She was more than just a muse (not there is anything wrong with being anyone’s inspiration), she utilised her uniqueness for 24 years working for Italian Vogue Magazine. To say that she had a huge wardrobe was an understatement, in 2006 she loaned some of her vintage clothes to the V&A Museum for an exhibition in her honour. She gave 932 hats, 31 feather boas, 24 aprons and 2865 dresses! On 7th August 2012, Piaggi died. There will never be anyone who could attempt to fill the gloriously unique void left by Piaggi.
Not as high profiled as Piaggi, but no less her own woman. Born Iris Barrel in Queens, New York on 29th August 1921. Her mother owned a boutique, a likely starting point for Apfel’s love of style. After studying art at university, she worked under interior designer Elinor Johnson. Plus a stint as an assistant to illustrator Robert Goodman. In 1950, Apfel with her husband set up a textile company, Old World Weaver. However, where Apfel made her name was with several design restoration projects. Including the White House and 9 Presidents! As recently as March 2014, Apfel sold 800 (yes, you read correctly) items from her own collections. Many chic vintage, antique pieces and her signature bold jewellery. In 2005 Apfel was honoured by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with an exhibition named ‘Rara Avis (rare bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel’. If that was not enough, the Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History in Boynton Beach, Florida will create a gallery for Apfel’s clothes, accessories and furnishing. A very fine and fabulous lady.