On The Web

Debbie Harry, Catherine Deneuve & Penelope Tree Signal The Rise Of The 70-Plus Style Influencer


BY ALICE NEWBOLD – 29th September 2020

The goalposts of fashion have moved this season, after a period of pandemic-imposed reflection gave designers time to reconsider the messages they wanted to put out into the world. Against a backdrop of global health and environmental crises, fashion’s incessant production cycle felt increasingly irrelevant, and the traditional show calendar sometimes unnecessary. And casting has provided a window into the changes that brands are making.

The mood has been high on female empowerment, as designers in each of the fashion capitals cast women of all ages, ethnicities and sizes to wear their condensed collections. The older models – particularly the fabulous septuagenarians – have generated the most hype, and signalled a new dawn for an industry known for celebrating youth and newness.

Exhibit A: Debbie Harry wearing a classic beige trench coat made riotous by embroidered doodles in Coach’s spring/summer 2021 campaign. Snarling at Juergen Teller’s camera, her eyes shaded by micro angular sunglasses, Harry let the punkish slogans on her crisp outerwear do the talking. “Dream On,” decreed the stitching, along with other phrases – such as “Gone Out” and “Something Else” – you could easily imagine woven into the Blondie frontwoman’s lyrics. Alongside creative director Stuart Vevers’s other “chosen family” members, including Kate Moss and Megan Thee Stallion, Harry holds her own as a powerhouse whose charisma belies her 75 years.

Debbie Harry for Coach spring/summer 2021. Juergen Teller

Milan Fashion Week, meanwhile, saw the return of Swinging Sixties icon Penelope Tree, who is marking her 70th year by writing a tell-all book about rising to fame as a 17-year-old street stylista and muse of David Bailey. Tree returned to the runway for Silvia Venturini Fendi’s last womenswear show some 40 years after her last catwalk appearance, and made it look as easy as ever. Wearing a jaunty black suit with a Chaos lighter swinging from a belt chain, the American model, with her signature face-framing fringe, said it was a “challenge to put oneself out there”. “Compared to what it’s like now, fashion was a cottage industry back then,” Tree told British Vogue. “The Fendi show was like Ben-Hur!”

Penelope Tree on Fendi’s spring/summer 2021 runway at Milan Fashion Week.

The start of Paris Fashion Week brought with it the news that Catherine Deneuve had designed a capsule collection of Belle du Jour-inspired pieces for A.P.C. The doyenne of ’60s cinema and muse to Yves Saint Laurent was so assertive about her design ideas she pushed creative director Jean Touitou to break down the boundaries of the French brand’s signature utility wear. “I would never, ever have made a pair of shoes in apple-green snakeskin embossed leather,” he said of A.P.C.’s new peppy footwear offering. “Not only did she make us do that, but no other choice was proposed by her.” By the end of the collaborative project, Touitou had placed Deneuve, 76, on a pedestal shared by the world’s leading creatives. “She is like a singer who will do the first takes with all recording effects already set there on the board,” he enthused of his new colleague. “Prince used to work like this.”

A.P.C. x C.D.

Days later, Vogue cover star Marisa Berenson, now 73, enjoyed a front-row view of Dior’s spring/summer 2021 collection, in a church-inspired setting made modern with the vibrant, violent collages of ’60s-era feminist artist Lucia Marcucci. The American model and actor has been a firm fixture at Dior’s presentations since the early ’00s, lending the seasonal spectaculars her Hollywood smile and voluminous blow-dries. This season, she witnessed creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s new silhouette for the house: a soft, cocooning jacket with a crisp shirt and trousers, which reflected the “feeling of the moment”, and the sense of ease and comfort we now want from our clothes.

Catherine Deneuve and A.P.C. creative director Jean Touitou.

The phygital spring/summer 2021 shows have seen other brilliant women take up the model mantle and join the circus – such as body positivity campaigners Honey Ross and Caryn Franklin, at Roksanda and Art School, respectively – but there’s something wonderfully reassuring about seeing fashion’s old guard shining in an industry they are still excited by, despite its flaws. Even more so, the fact that even the season’s 70-plus models and influencers don’t have everything sussed out. After walking for Fendi, Tree admitted, “I tried to think of the other 66 models and the spectacle as a whole; people weren’t really looking at me.” The icon of the flower power decade might be just the humble figurehead the Instagram generation needs.

Marisa Berenson at the Dior spring/summer 2021 show. Anthony Ghnassia


Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button