In celebration of Ari Seth Cohen and Lina Plioplyte’s documentary Advanced Style, we present our top 10 glamorous older women
It has often been argued that it is character over age that counts, and true beauty never grows old. In celebration of Ari Seth Cohen and Lina Plioplyte’s documentary Advanced Style, AnOther have put together a list of our favourite older women, who are as fabulous now as they've ever been and testament to the fact that style and talent resonate at any age.
With her oversized owl-glasses, cropped silver hair and lashings of jewellery, Iris Apfel is fashion’s unexpected hero. From her multi-coloured rooster coats and Chinese robes to her collection of artisan couture and precious stones, she is a unique fashion icon for all generations. Apfel spent much of her life working as one half of Old World Weavers, the textile company that she built with her husband, before the Metropolitan Museum opened her wardrobe to the masses in 2005. Since then, she has become a national treasure, renowned for her ability to mix elegance, eccentricity and an artful eye, referring to herself as “the world’s oldest living teenager.”
At 79 years of age, Sophia Loren is as glamorous, attractive and vivacious as she was in 1966, dressed in a red PVC coat as secret agent Yasmin Azir in Marie Menken’s Arabesque. With her silk scarves, pearl earrings and deep chestnut skin, she is the epitome of Italian glamour, an emblem of both Old Hollywood and exotic beauty. "There is a fountain of youth," she once said, "It is in your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age."
Awarded the title of Dame earlier this year, Angela Lansbury made her name as the adored master-sleuth Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote. There was a film festival in her honour held in April this year and she has also become a fashion icon within her own right, known for her silver shingled bob and costume jewellery. Aged 88, she shows little sign of slowing down, currently performing in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre. “Here I am,” she said, “I still go on, you know, like the tides.”
Dame Westwood, the grandmother of punk and godmother for sustainable living, is now 73. From her swastika T-shirts and rubber dresses to the time that she collected an OBE from the queen in 1992 wearing a transparent dress with just a figleaf to conceal her dignity, she has been a constant activist, leading her army of punks, pirates, ragamuffins and fetishists for generations.
The new face of Marc Jacobs Beauty, 65-year old Jessica Lange is famed for her portrayal of beautiful and complex women. She has over thirty credits to her name, including manic depressive Carly in Blue Sky (1994), an accused immigrant in Music Box (1989) and a host of Tennessee Williams heroines including Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. She has an undeniable beauty, charm and innate coolness, and has been mesmerising viewers with her performances in FX's anthology horror show, American Horror Story, since 2011.
Sex siren Raquel Welch first caught the attention of every man in America in 1966, when she wore a doe-skin bikini for her role as a cavewoman in One Million Years B.C. Now 73, the 4-times married actress has extended beyond the stereotype, becoming a successful and enduring actress and businesswoman. Much of her appeal lies not just in her physical assets, but in her womanly confidence and aplomb. At a time of Marilyn Monroe-esque femme fatales and giggling innocence, she stood out as self-assured but never arrogant, a trait that she has never lost.
Whether she is playing the wonderfully outrageous Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous or giving ITV viewers a tour round the Greek islands in her Greek Odyssey series, Joanna Lumley is a national treasure. Now aged 68, her charisma and optimism are globally celebrated, never better than during her illicit snog with Leonardo DiCaprio in her exquisite turn in The Wolf of Wall Street. She is also a strong human rights activist and advocates housework and gardening as life’s best workout.
Rampling made a name for herself in the 1960s for her seductive roles in films such as The Damned and The Night Porter, known for her complex, sultry and darkly mysterious characters. She became the poster girl for swinging London, whizzing around in a haze of Mini Coopers, minidresses and ménage à trois. Now aged 67, she still looks remarkable and was announced earlier this year as the new face of NARS make-up. Born into a military family (her father was a colonel) she has a stiff, sometimes chilly, but frank and honest confidence, similar to Tilda Swinton who also comes from a similar upbringing. It is this strength of character, along with her unavoidable beauty, that makes her as relevant now as when she stepped out in a fur coat, bouffant curls and little else in cult classic Georgy Girl (1966).
The brunette beauty of French New Wave cinema, Jean Moreau is known for her roles in films including Jules et Jim (1961) and La Notte (1961). Moreau stood out against other Nouvelle Vague actresses of the time due to her complexity and fiery temperament, as well as being a favourite of Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton. Along with fellow French starlett Brigitte Bardot, you cannot help but admire her happiness to grow old and weather without care. "Age does not protect you from love," she once said, "but love to some extent protects you from age.
Ashley is one of the UK's most inspiring women, as well as one of the first Brits to be outed as a transexual. Having undergone gender realignment surgery in 1960, she suffered the humiliation of a media storm, when a friend sold the story to the Sunday People in 1961. Despite this, she forged a career as a successful model and restaurant hostess, bewitching the likes of Salvador Dalí and Elvis Presley. She has written a book on her life and was appointed an MBE in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to transgender equality.
Text by Mhairi Graham