How inspiring that the two best-dressed women at last week’s British Fashion Awards were fortysomethings. And even better that, they were among the most beautiful – if not the most beautiful – women in the room.
Age can certainly not wither either Stella Tennant, named model of the year (41), or Kristen McMenamy (soon to turn 47 – happy birthday), currently in the throes of well-deserved career revivals.
It takes quite a woman to carry off the Alexander McQueen pearl-embroidered, ivory organza dress with super-high white python boots to match that McMenamy chose to wear. She looked all the more extraordinary for the fact that her wildly long, poker-straight tresses are also snowy – her hair turned grey some time ago and, far from trying to disguise it, she’s exaggerated the look.
Given that Tennant – and her signature crop – was the face of Nineties’ androgyny, it was less than surprising that her attire was more garçonne than ice queen in flavour. Dressed in a by now classic Celine all-in-one Le Smoking, slashed to the navel, hers was the perfect wardrobe solution for those who like to respect a black-tie dress code, but would rather not be weighed down by the accompanying underpinning and froth.
To say that this look is as easy as Tennant makes it appear would be misleading. She is currently among the faces of Celine and her preternaturally tall and boyish frame wears it well.
Still, if you’ve got it, flaunt it and there’s no point in the rest of us being bitter, particularly when Tennant herself is so modest. She thanked the team of people who work on any photographs of her – the hair and makeup artists and David Sims, who presented her with her gong, “for his lighting”. He has long upheld her unorthodox charm.
Neither of these women has ever fit into the picture-perfect stereotype that more mainstream modelling still all too often seeks out, and the older each becomes the more refreshing that seems.