Monday, March 4, 2013

Sexy old lady

I don't generally do this, but I just want to write a blog post to gush about another blog post-- this one, by Greta Christina, about an episode of Project Runway in which the contestants, fashion designers, were asked to design an outfit for an older female client.

Now, I'm not watching Project Runway this season. I used to-- even have a couple of seasons on DVD-- mainly because I love Tom and Lorenzo's recaps of it. Their recaps kept me watching the show way past when I would've grown tired of it otherwise. Because I like a competitive reality show, but even more do I like a blog ripping on a competitive reality show. And boy, do they rip. But I got bored eventually and started seeing other reality shows on the know how it goes (these days I watch Face Off, Top Chef, and Ink Master). See, I just...don't know much about fashion. And don't care to, really. I care about style, but the words "trendy" or "in season" to me mean "thing you're going to spend a load of money on and then never be able to wear again," and I don't have the time-- or budget-- for that. So if I'm going to buy something stylish, it had better be stylish forever. Or at least for the next twenty years or so. You know?

Anyway, a common challenge to have on Project Runway is the so-called "real woman" challenge, in which these relatively unknown and in some cases novice fashion designers are asked to switch gears from designing party dresses out of candy or garbage (or both) for size 0 models and switch to something a little more down to earth-- clothing for a specific client, who has tastes and is...something other than a size 0 model. The first time it was just non-models in their 20's. Sometimes it's children. Once it was women who wanted to recycle their wedding gowns, so the gowns provided the only material the designer was allowed to work with. Once it was women who had lost a substantial amount of weight, and wanted to show off their new figures. This time it was old ladies.

Now, I use that term with all due reverence. I do, after all, aspire to be an old lady myself. An awesome old lady. So I have an interest in a group of fashion designers listening to a group of specific old ladies describing what they want to wear, and trying to approximate that. And what Greta Christina has to say about it all is just...perfect. To wit:
I’ve written before about how hard it is to say “sexy older woman” in the metaphorical language of fashion… not because the words and grammar aren’t there, but because our culture considers the very concept of “sexy woman over fifty” to be nonsense. I’ve written before about the whole question of what it even means to be “age appropriate” in the first place, and whether the very notion is ageist and oppressive, or whether it’s a way to express love and respect for your age, or whether it’s some of both. And as a fifty-one year old woman who cares deeply about fashion and sex and feminism and ageism… this is not an abstract point for me. This is a paradox I live every day of my life in. It sometimes drives me up a tree that I started getting seriously interested in fashion in my late forties, right when fashion was losing interest in me. (Of course, as someone who was fat for much of her adult life, fashion has never been all that interested in me… so there’s that.) 
And since “age and fashion” is so loaded, not just because of how fashion is designed, but because of how fashion is criticized, I want to spend more time than usual this week talking, not just about the designs, but about the judging.
See what I mean? Now go read the whole thing.

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