Salma Hayak fronts fashion campaign

The biggest trend so far this year hasn’t been the return of the 70s (though expect a whole lot more bell-bottom in your wardrobes this year), but older women fronting luxury fashion campaigns.

Earlier this year Celine sent the internet into a frenzy by unveiling the new face of its spring 2015 collection, 80 year-old author and memoirist Joan Didion.


Didion, with her much imitated style, spare prose and effortless (and endlessly re-blogged) coolness is actually the perfect fit for the brand. Saint Laurent have collaborated with Joni Mitchell, 71, who alongside Bob Dylan is the ultimate representation of counter culture in the 1960s (and the best music to listen to when you feel sad). Karen Walker recruited the (80 years plus) and thoroughly excellent ladies of Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style blog for a recent eyewear campaign, and Julia Roberts, 47, has posed for Givenchy. Beauty campaigns have also joined in, with Nars hiring 68 year-old Charlotte Rampling and Marc Jacobs signing on American Horror actress Jessica Lange, 65.

Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent.

Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent.

This week Salma Hayak was announced as the new face of Pomellato, a Milanese jewellery company (once also fronted by Sofia Loren), which was acquired by the luxury-holding group run by her husband, Francois-Henri Pinault.

The celebration of older women is important, especially in a culture that so celebrates youth, rendering older women invisible. We need to see older women, we need diversity and beauty that is not a one size fits all. The problem with the ‘trend’ of using older women is that can be a novelty, or used for shock value, which then leads us back to where we started. What’s more, the women featured are still beautiful and famous women, but still, it is a start.

Karen Walker's recent eyewear campaign starring the ladies of the Advanced Style blog (and now documentary).

Karen Walker’s recent eyewear campaign starring the ladies of the Advanced Style blog (and now documentary).

Besides, a brand would ignore older women at its peril.

As Salma Hayak said of her (beautiful, sexy) campaign for Pomellato, women – and older women in particular – are a force, and a purse, to be reckoned with.

“Women working and being independent are now a financial force and this has given us a voice,” Hayek said at the launch of her campaign in Milan. “The fact is that now we are earning a place in society where we are not only decoration.”

And Hayak is adamant about this.

The rise of the older woman in fashion complements another trend in very famous women, speaking out for feminism.

In a recent interview with The Guardian Hayak had this to say in response to question of whether she was a feminist,

“I am a feminist because I love women and I am ready to fight for women. I am a feminist because I am proud to be a woman, and I am passionate about making the world a better place for women. I am a feminist because a lot of amazing women have made me the woman I am today. I am inspired by women every day, as friends and as colleagues.”

Fashion campaigns that make older women visible and celebrated do make the world better – and more stylish – for all women.

More please!

Threads of life

Growing up on Mindanao, the second-largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines, Lenora Cabili was surrounded by artisans creating reels of fabric from abaca (a type of banana-like plant native to the country) from an early age. Shredded, dried and dyed, the fibres were woven into mats, accessories and clothes – a stunning footprint of the island community.

Today, Cabili is one of the country’s strongest proponents of indigenous fashion – her label Filip + Inna showcases intricate weaving, embroidery and beadwork from across the archipelago.

“My mission is to create while also reviving, even preserving, ancient traditions of the Philippines that are in danger of becoming lost,” says Cabili, whose work with 11 communities across the country also offers an opportunity to improve livelihoods.

A centuries-old tradition in the Philippines, the embroidery Cabili sources includes cross-stitch patterns of indigenous people and intricate callado (filigree work where yarn is painstakingly pulled off the cloth) from the country’s lowlands. She has just finished work on the Felicia Dress from her B’laan Collection, which features 15,000 glass beads, all stitched by hand. “It took the artisan five weeks to finish it,” she says. 

A former dancer turned fashion designer, Cabili’s Filip + Inna – a portmanteau of Filipino and Filipina – clothes are essentially a map of the country, highlighting regional crafts and materials. Cabili travels the islands, tracking down unique creations and collaborating with artisans to create distinct garments and accessories for women. It’s a time-consuming process, but it guarantees individual, highly personalised pieces – each artisan also puts their name on the garments they create.

While collections change with availability and the seasons, pieces might include resort-style tops, chemises, boleros, lounge pants and caftans. No two garments are ever alike. Embellishments often nod to the traditional garb of various communities and Cabili keeps a collection of garments from far-flung islands for inspiration.

“I wear Filip + Inna clothes with pride because behind every garment is the artisan and her life story,” she says.



Peninsula academy

While Peninsula hotels around the world have their own distinct character, one thing that ties them together is a supreme sense of style – plus the Peninsula Academy.

A thoughtfully curated collection of bespoke tours in each hotel’s city, the academy is designed to immerse guests in the local landscape, highlighting everything from history and culture to contemporary arts
and cuisine.

At the Peninsula Manila, a diverse programme includes a helicopter tour of WWII relics as well as a craft class and Burda: Hand Embroidery Art of the Philippines. The latter sees Peninsula guests spend an afternoon at the atelier of Lenora Cabili and learn how each piece she designs is gawa sa kamay (handmade).

Over coffee or champagne and canapés, guests can enjoy a salon show featuring select pieces from Cabili’s latest collection, which they may also purchase or have custom fitted.

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