In 2014, Bank of America Merrill Lynch reported on the “silver" economy, highlighting facts like the average wealth of the 50+ household in the US and UK exceeds $700,000. Not only are they spending more compared to their "employment-challenged" youngers, but the "longevity revolution" has these folks in better health and living longer. In short, the elderly are feeling younger and better for longer, plus there's a lot more of them.
Blah. Blah. Blah.
You can cite statistics all day and talk all you want 'till you're blue in the face about the rise of the fashionable blue-hairs. However, the real reason, I think, that the over 60 crowd is enjoying a growing influence in fashion and that their style has been in style of late - is the fact that it reflects the age demographics of trendmakers themselves.
* Carine Roitfeld, Franca Sozzani, Donna Karan & Anna Wintour (right): all in their 60s
* Ralph Lauren: age 75
* Giorgio Armani & Karl Lagerfeld: both early 80s
And then there's that rare bird herself, Iris, the nonagenarian style maven that Albert Maysles made the subject of his last documentary before he died: Iris Apfel. "Without Apfel, whose idiosyncratic style and Mr. Magoo-size eyewear inspired a 2005–6 exhibition at the Met," notes Vanity Fair, "we would likely not be seeing the rise of the senior supermodel: Joan Didion for Céline, Charlotte Rampling for Nars, Jessica Lange for Marc Jacobs Beauty, Joni Mitchell for Yves Saint Laurent. Apfel herself is the new face of Kate Spade."
Plus MAC makeup and the Rara Avis by Iris Apfel collection of costume-bling on HSN.
In fairness to stylish elders everywhere, it's not just her age that makes her documentary-worthy but the fact she's just such a character, from her "Magoo-size" eyewear to her crazy-cool abandon with accessories and jewelry; after all, if you've been an avid collector since the age of 11, more is More is M-O-R-E darling. "Iris Apfel is one of the most vivacious personalities in the worlds of fashion, textiles, and interior design, and over the past 40 years, she has cultivated a personal style that is both witty and exuberantly idiosyncratic," noted the somewhat starstruck curators of the Met Museum Costume Institute when they staged Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Apfel Collection in 2005. "Her originality is typically revealed in her mixing of high and low fashions – Dior haute couture with flea market finds, 19th-century ecclesiastical vestments with Dolce & Gabbana lizard trousers. With remarkable panache and discernment, she combines colors, textures, and patterns without regard to period, provenance, and, ultimately, aesthetic conventions. Paradoxically, her richly layered combinations – even at their most extreme and baroque – project a boldly graphic modernity." (image)
Plus, like many fab ladies of her generation, she's a ninja at insanely fabulous pronouncements:
"If the trend is to buy dainty jewelry, someone like me would never buy it because I'd look like a fool. I think it's important to be experimental and open, but don't go after trends. it doesn't look right, The Fashion Police won't come and put you in jail!"
"You have to look in the mirror and see who you are. It might be trendy, but you can't buy it just because Iris told you to."
"If you're not comfortable in your own skin, you won't be comfortable in your own clothes. And if you aren't comfortable in your clothes, no matter how glamorous they are, you're going to look stiff, which is no fun. I have friends who go heavy with cocktail clothes, but during the day they have nothing to wear. You have to look in the mirror and see who you are and buy what suits your way of life."
- Lesley Scott