“Fashion’s fade, style is eternal,” said Yves Saint Laurent and when it comes to one of 2021’s most joyful pre-occupations his sentiment remains spot on. We are, of course, talking about our increasing appetite to see pictures of women not just embracing style in older age but, well, rocking it.
Whether they’re modelling head-to-toe Versace, working new-season Valentino or, more recently, coordinating their vintage leopard-print lapels with their face masks, it is increasingly as likely that you’ll see an IRL octogenarian owning their look as you scroll through your feed as it is the usual – younger – suspects.
“I guess the popularity is due to an aspirational motivation: young girls just want to grow and age like those ladies who still wear make-up and go to the hairdresser everyday just to go to the grocery store,” muses 28-year-old Angelo, the Italian dental student who moonlights as the man behind the Instagram account we all can’t seem to get enough of: Sciura Glam.
In case you haven’t come across his feed, it celebrates the polished, sometimes whacky, but always impeccable street style of mostly Milanese women who are 50-plus. Pronounced “she-oo-rrra”, it means “lady” in Milanese dialect. “In Milan it has a particular meaning because it targets the rich and stylish ladies,” explains Angelo.
Having started the account in 2016, Angelo has 10k more followers compared to this time last year and has people sending him pictures “every day, all day” to post on his Stories or gird. “They send people from the streets – less this past year of course – but also their grannies and relatives like their aunts,” he says. The criteria, however, is strict. “I must like the lights, the angles, then the lady or ladies must wear something stylish – vintage bags are like a must – and the hair is also important; the higher, the better!”
Worshipping the wardrobes of senior style icons is not, of course, a new phenomenon. Trust Phoebe Philo to have been first in line when she put Joan Didion in her Céline campaign back in 2015. Then there’s Alessandro Michele whose take on twinsets and heirloom tailoring was modelled excellently by Tippi Hedren – who was 88 at the time – in 2018. The legend that is 100-year-old Iris Apfel, who signed a four-year modelling contract with IMG when she was 97, also can’t go without a mention.
This year, however, it was definitely more about IRL style and Angelo is by no means alone. Samsoe & Samsoe last month featured artist couple “Pierre and Yetty” in its family portrait campaign with the caption: “Married for 50 years. Favourite thing to do on Sundays: going to the market and gardening.” Meanwhile, Zara Men tapped 90-year-old influencer @TheSpanishKing for its most recent collaboration.
It’s “the simplicity and effortless style that seniors have” that made Kyle Kivijarvi set up @Gramparents, a page that celebrates men in macs, driving their porches and looking perfect in their tennis whites. A collaboration with the Copenhagen-based clothing brand Another Aspect this year helped his followers climb by 100k. To make it onto his grid, the simpler, the better.
“I like the basics,” says the 36-year-old creative consultant, who also runs his ’gram as a sideline. “I guess in that way I’m kind of like an old man myself. Reading a newspaper, sitting in the park, walking the dog, having a coffee, looking at art in a museum. These are all simple things they enjoy and I think capture the moment best when they are enjoying whatever it is that they are doing.”Most Popular
The feedback he says, “is always great. I get so many people commenting or messaging saying how happy it makes them. Some followers are ‘Gramparents’ themselves and have thanked me for shining a light on them. Sometimes people will post photos of an outfit they are wearing inspired by Gramparents. The page is really to show appreciation, spread happiness and remind us to enjoy the simple things.”
On the fashion front, it’s a simplicity that is reflected in the wider zeitgeist, says fashion psychologist Carolyn Mair. “There is a move to ‘slow down’ fashion, to move away from multiple collections every couple of weeks and even every season and move towards a more sustainable industry that designs on demand,” she says. “The kind of styles preferred by older people are more likely to be lasting or perennial styles because they know what they like, what suits them and why. They are less likely to be led by trends [and] are more confident about their fashion choices.”
If this confidence rubs off, it can only be a good thing, says Angelo: “We are all scared of growing up and ageing and most still believe that getting some wrinkles is bad, but I guess that if you age with grace like these ladies on Sciura Glam there is no need to be afraid.”