Archway student sets out to revolutionise fashion for older women with help from star model Daphne Selfe
Glamour, sophistication and style are not often associated with fashion for the over 60s – but one up and coming designer from Archway is aiming to change all that.
Student Olivia Ann May, 22, of Sussex Way, was so concerned about the ageism which exists in the fashion industry that she has spent months creating her own clothing range for women over 60.
Her work has even won the backing of star elderly model Daphne Selfe, 83, who last week modelled her designs alongside 73-year-old Jan de Villeneuve and 62-year-old Pam Lucas on the catwalk at Middlesex University, where Olivia is studying her final year of a fashion textiles degree.
The event, which showcased the work of some 70 students, was judged by three top UK fashion designers – Louise Gray, Carolyn Massey and Richard Nicholl – and they selected Olivia as one of the 20 talents to go through to the university’s graduate fashion show in June.
Olivia said: “I follow a blog in New York about older women’s fashion every day.
“I’ve always been interested in the way they dress but also the ageism in the fashion industry – I did my dissertation on it and found that it was really quite prevalent.
“How the elderly dress is being forgotten about in the fashion industry and the outfits you find on the high street for this age group are boring.
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“I am passionate about how older people look – glamour, sophistication and style are all things I want to bring to their everyday dress.
“We are working later, and women still need a working wardrobe into their 60s and 70s. Generally there is nothing around which can make an older woman feel fabulous and this needs to change.
“These women are those with the highest disposable income so it’s really silly for designers to alienate them in this way.”
Olivia designed three outfits with a focus on “fun”, with prints, embroidery, flattering lines and longer sleeves.
She is working on a further three designs to take to the next event. Her dream is to open a boutique in London.
She added: “I would love to carry on designing for this sector of the industry.
“I moved to London [from Devon] because this is the home of fashion. I would love to open my own boutique where elderly women can come in with a group of friends, sit down with a cup of tea and talk about fashion – I want to bring them a different experience.”