Ageing gracefully: Secrets of the stars

IN A POLL carried out on over 1,300 women by mycelebrityfashion.co.uk, Charlie’s Angels actress Demi Moore came out on top as the celebrity ageing most gracefully.

Despite rumours of having had $250,000 worth of plastic surgery, the 50-year old scooped 55% of the votes — a landslide victory for the raven-haired raw food vegan.

And it isn’t just Moore garnering the attention. Actress Helen Mirren, 67, unleashed a shutterbug frenzy when she showcased newly cropped pink hair on the 2013 Bafta red carpet.

Septuagenarian, media mogul, and lifestyle guru Martha Stewart recently admitted to signing up to dating site match.com while the term ‘well Dench’ has entered the lexicon as an idiom for ‘cool’ thanks to its eponymous progenitor Dame Judi,78. Even the fashion industry is loosening its age restrictions. No one quite commands the catwalk with the same ease as model Carmen Dell’Oreficie, 81, or could best the colourful irreverence of style icon Iris Apfel, 91.

Ageing gracefully may have many faces but the fountain of youth is still proving quite the elixir. According to BCC Research market forecasting, the global anti-ageing market was worth $162.2bn in 2008, with an expected target of $274.5bn in 2013. With the mean global age expected to jump from 28 to 40 by 2050 — not to mention 65-year-olds outnumbering those 5 and under by 2018 — the real question is whether ageing can be finessed without all the fuss.

Irish Tatler editor Shauna O’Halloran believes so. “I have spoken to a lot of beautician and skincare experts over the years,” she states, “and their top tips are borne from sage advice that we all know but are probably forgetting to practice: Drinking lots of water, getting a good night’s sleep, wearing SPF, and enjoying life.”

Aside from the physiological fundamentals, O’Halloran pinpoints the X factor that money and maintenance cannot buy. “All the women who age gracefully are those who’ve always had poise,” she says, citing Ali Hewson, 52, Emma Thompson, 54, and Julianne Moore, 52, as examples.

“What keeps them looking so young,” she adds, “is that they didn’t ever try to be age-appropriate as a 20-year-old or as a 30-year-old; they just were themselves.”

Self-awareness may come naturally to some but for others it is borne out of experience as mature model Pat Walker explains. “For me the term ‘ageing gracefully’ means a newfound confidence with each passing decade. The greatest eureka moment was accepting the real me and not trying to be what I thought others wanted me to be,” admits the Cork native. “Now that I am in my fifties, I am more content and happier, both mentally and physically, than I have ever been.”

This positive attitude is something which fashion and beauty brands are beginning to reflect, from Dove’s pro-age skincare products to Lanvin’s autumn/winter 2012 campaign featuring models Jacquie ‘Tajah’ Murdock, 82, and Tziporah Salamon, 62 — a move inspired by Ari Seth Cohen’s blog Advanced Style (www.advancedstyle.blogspot.com).

Irish model agent Andrea Roche, who casts mature models for clients like Brown Thomas, is thrilled to see the paradigm shift. “It’s very refreshing to see an older woman portrayed in a glamorous way,” she says. “I personally love 83-year-old international model Daphne Selfe; she’s never had any work done and is just so elegant.”

Although neologistic in media terms, embracing age is old hat in certain cultural circles, particularly in France. Our Gallic counterparts have an inimitable knack for unstudied elegance, one which parlays itself effortlessly across generations.

Roll call? Former French Vogue editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld, 58; actress Juliette Binoche, 49; IMF chief Christine Lagarde, 57; and the oh-so-mysterious sex symbol Catherine Deneuve, 69.

So just what is their secret?

Simply put, it is an attitude, a way of life. Feeling good means looking great which is why French skincare is considered a sanctified ritual, not a routine with make-up a secondary concern. It’s about finding the luxury in the everyday; treating simple pleasures as special occasions, whether it’s taking time to linger over lunch with friends, luxuriating in a massage, or investing in a Chanel jacket. In this rests the je ne sais quoi that no marketing boffin can quantify.

“I do think it is a state-of-mind,” agrees O’Halloran. “If Coco Chanel’s adage is to be believed, ‘Nature gives you the face you have at 20; it is up to you to merit the face you have at 50.’ In other words, look after yourself, be happy, and enjoy your life.”

Indeed, if smiling is tantamount to a five-second facelift then comedians like Tina Fey,42, Diane Keaton, 67, and everyone’s favourite Golden Girl Betty White, 91, have proven the prowess of not taking oneself too seriously. Pouting and frowning haven’t quite achieved the mega-watt status of a big grin; what’s more they promote wrinkles — hardly an endorsement.

But what of our male counterparts? Do men age better than women or are they simply more sanguine about the process? George Clooney, 52, and Pierce Brosnan, 59, have segued handsomely into Mr Grey territory; while a bald pate certainly looks the part on actors Bruce Willis, 58, and James Nesbitt, 48. Love-worn and rugged, Liam Neeson, 60, Al Pacino, 73, and Bruce Springsteen, 63, get sexier with the years; something the pillow-faced Simon Cowell, 53, could learn from in the wake of those pesky Botox rumours.

If age is an evolution then its grace lies in accepting change. The feisty and fabulous Italian actress Sophia Loren said it best: “There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life, and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

All this time we’ve been fighting wrinkles, gravity, and grey hairs when the true adversary happens to lurk that little bit deeper. Remember: Beauty is in the mind; not the eye of the beholder.

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