Accidental Icon: Coda Essentially agnès b.

Is it Really About Young Versus Old?

There was much internet “breaking” this week about older persons finally being recognized by the fashion world. First there was the amazing face of Joan Didion, a writer of substance, in a campaign for Céline. Next the songwriter and musician Joni Mitchell appears photographed by Hedi Slimane for the Yves St. Laurent’s Music Project, with a spread in V Magazine. For the last three years in the early days of the new year, Selfridges a London department store, has dedicated all of its windows to the newest stars of fashion and art, calling the exhibition “Bright Young Things”. The idea is to choose people that the store believes will influence fashion in the upcoming year. This year in a twist, the windows were turned over to a group called “Bright Old Things” a group of older people with previous careers who were now making their way in the worlds of fashion and art. For some beautiful photos of the windows and her always great commentary, see Susie Lau’s post and for an interesting take on fashion and age see this article in the New York Times.

For those who have been reading my blog you know that although I like black and white clothing, I really don’t like black and white thinking. I like to hold and play with those tensions that make life so delicious. I am both old and young. Although my body may be aging, I experience myself as a young person full of life on the inside. I still feel like the wild, crazy, adventurous (albeit wiser) hippy I was in the 1970’s. Everyday I meet and work with young people who are brilliant, cool, savvy about how to negotiate the world and inspire me in many ways. After some difficult challenges they tell me that at times they feel "old". In fact it was young people who encouraged me to start a blog.

So for me this raises the question about the trend that broke the internet this week; is it really about fashion embracing older consumers or is it about valuing those individuals who have the capacity to adapt, remain relevant and who are comfortable with experimentation, reinvention and an interest in culture and the world they live in? Perhaps it’s really not about age but about feeling starved by superficiality and wanting a big helping of something or someone that will “stick to our bones”. Perhaps individuals who are able to close one door with great satisfaction and open another one with eager anticipation are simply more interesting.

And so I leave you with a quote and the reinvention story of my muse this week...Agnès b. 

"I love history and I love memory but I have no nostalgia. The future is something you can always do something about. You can do nothing about the past."

Since 1984, Agnès b. has pursued interests other than fashion, primarily art and filmmaking although she has been know to dabble in bakeries and flower shops too. Starting with opening an art gallery in Paris that showed young graffiti artists to founding a joint film concern with Harmony Korine she has used her success in fashion to explore her passion for art. She has subsequently opened another art gallery in Soho and more recently a production company for personal film projects called Love Streams. She also publishes a periodical on contemporary art, Point d'ironie. She is passionate about photography and has an extensive personal collection. For years she has enjoyed being a “catalyst” and has supported the careers of young filmmakers, photographers and artists always taking chances on the new and different. At the age of 71, the need to express herself in a different way than fashion led her to find the confidence to take a chance on herself and she wrote, directed and produced her first feature film released last year and shown at film festivals around the world. The film is the story of a 12-year old girl who runs away after being sexually abused by her father and in a kind of road movie seeks refuge with a truck driver who is recovering from a trauma of his own.

From January 27th until February 3rd, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City will show the film,“Je m'appelle Hmmm…" I plan to go on January 27th because there is the opportunity to meet the designer during a Q & A about the film. I know I will be inspired for days as I witness and experience first hand her reinvention story and of course my Agnès b. “essentials” will suit the occasion.

See my agnès b. picks on Pinterest

Do you have a reinvention story?