Men are silver foxes but women are letting themselves go if they decide to ditch the dye?
When Annie Stirk first came to me with the seed of an idea to celebrate grey, white and silver haired women which we'd planned to be part of York Fashion Week 2019 I completely got it.
I started going grey as a teenager, not really a shock as my grandmother was completely white at a young age. Dyeing it every colour of the rainbow, from Navy Blue, Blonde, Bright Red and Plum , the list goes on. I don't really remember anyone batting an eye. Fast forward to age 45 when I decided to ditch the dye and embrace my grey hair and people suddenly had an opinion. Comments , which all came from women, included "You're too young" , "Don't let yourself go" and "it will make you look older".
I'm sure it's too do with societies conditioning around the fear of ageing. Grey hair is another sign along with wrinkles that we are ageing, and to be honest thank God we are lucky enough to still be here to show them when so many others aren't! There is still so much fear around the whole subject. We wanted to create an uplifting fashion event that challenges those outdated stigmas and celebrates women embracing their grey hair. Reminding women that may be feeling a bit lost that we are most certainly not invisible!
The event, held at the beautiful Goldsborough Hall, involved 13 models who all volunteered to join Annie and I on the catwalk. These women had never done anything like this before but completely embraced everything we threw at them. With a fabulous styling team; Sara Anson and Trudy Fielding, behind us showcasing 7 brands from small independents to well loved high street names. It was important to Annie and I that not only did these women leave feeling more confident about themselves but so did our 90 guests. After the last 18 months there was a really positive energy coming from the audience and their support for every women that stepped out was palpable.
Our models ranged from late 40's up to 77 and indeed our oldest model Heather Sandler often stole the show with her sass and personality.
Why we need better representation in the media and fashion industry.
Although we have started to see more older women included in media and advertising campaigns they are still token gestures and yet to be included in fashion campaigns on a consistent basis. Deciding to ditch the dye often comes at a time of great change in a womans life, children leaving home, adjusting to an empty nest, caring for older parents, the menopause. All these can have a huge affect on your body confidence. Add to that the lack of visibility in the images we are bombarded with daily and it's no wonder that women often feel invisible and lost.
When you consider that the over 50's spending power is one of the largest and fastest growing in the UK it makes you wonder at what point will brands start really listening and learning how to include us in their marketing. We were delighted to have high street brands John Lewis Leeds, Figleaves swimwear, Fenwicks and Jigsaw in York involved in the show alongside independents Copper & White, Cabi Clothing, My Vintage Beau, Natalia Willmott jewellery, Molly Titfer hats, The Yorkshire Handbag Company and Yorkshire Eyewear.
Seeing our models of all shapes, ethnicities, heights and at different stages of their grey journey really felt like a powerful statement. The women in the audience clearly enjoyed seeing the clothes on women they could relate to as they enjoyed shopping after the event after being inspired by what they'd seen. This seems to be a perfect way to shop and target the older market and perhaps we'll see more in person fashion events as an after effect of the pandemic. I really do hope so! I’d love to see more brands creating live fashion events to really connect and understand their midlife customers better.
Is the tide turning?
It does feel like the tide is turning with celebrity role models like Helen Mirren, Andie MacDowell and most recently Dawn French embracing their grey hair in the public arena. You often hear women described as being brave for going against the ‘normal’ and these women are under so much scrutiny in the spotlight but owning it. I completely agree with Andie MacDowell when she told Vogue she’d never felt more herself, able to embrace where she is right now and completely comfortable in her skin, I feel exactly the same and its freeing.
I’m sure that comes with age as much as embracing the grey, I’ve started to care less about what other people think of me. Deciding to ditch the dye can be a very positive experience and so many women find it liberating, stepping out of your previous fashion comfort zone can be a real part of that change.
With award winning presenter Christine Talbot as our host we knew we were in safe hands and it was a pleasure to have Jayne Mayled, founder of White Hot Hair and Tricia Cusden from Look Fabulous Forever as our guest speakers to share their pro-ageing wisdom too.( I have to say our award winning hair and make-up artist Sonia Schofield and her team did an amazing job enhancing all the models natural beauty using Look Fabulous Forever make up).
There’s never been a better time for women to support women and this event really showed that as we also raised money for the York based women’s charity Kyra. The event was kindly sponsored by York Gin and Figleaves.
Enjoy a few of the images of all our gorgeous models, all at different stages of their own grey haired journey, different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages but all Silver & Sassy!
Annie and I are already planning what's next for #Silverandsassy and we want to reach as many women as we can with our positive message. The icing on the cake came from being featured on ITV Calendar and then going national on All Around Britain. (watch from 31 mins in)
We are Silver & Sassy!
Huge thanks to everyone behind the scenes who helped make the day the success that it was.
All images @Olivia Brabbs Photography