Voguing the (im)possible: Beauty, sex, and fashion at 80, 90, and 120 in Vogue Magazine’s September 2011 Issue

Most of us talk about longevity, but few of us dare to imagine ourselves as REALLY old.  AND fabulous.  Living, not in a hospital, but in a hotel.  Wearing a thick diamond clasp on one ear as we place our deeply wrinkled countenances in a suggestive side by side with a smooth skinned young man, wearing a simple gold earring.

Vogue Magazine, in their encyclopedic September 2011 issue, does just that: parades visuals of a woman – the same woman – wearing more than 100 years worth of fashions, as she visibly ages through time.  The final shots are startling, nightmarish, utopian, beautiful, and sexual.  The 90 year old woman is the woman mentioned above: a wizened siren with lustrous white hair.

The oldest woman is 120, and she wears a strappy black corset.  Prune-faced and yet erect, she is every inch a dominatrix to mis-quote a line from King Lear.

What would/will the world be like if/when old women claimed/will claim their agency/beauty/sexuality?  The Vogue spread asks this question.

The question is frightening because in those ancient faces, the viewer can no longer dismiss the inevitability of their own demise.  But the question is also inspiring, because it points to the possibility of pleasure and fulfillment as yet unarticulated unless you happen to be Georgia O’Keefe or Rachel Rosenthal.  These artists braved, performed, and represented decrepitude in order to affirm something truly glorious about the aging feminine.

Here’s to them and to us – all persons linked in whatever way to fem identity as it moves through BIG TIME.

Rachel Rosenthal homepage

Georgia O’Keefe Museum

Vogue Magazine

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