Monday, May 2, 2011
Behind Every Great Woman
There's a secret that many of us women over 50 are aware of, a secret I was very happy to share with my companions in their 30's and 40's recently (seen in hats), a secret so wonderful that we grin and enjoy it like kids with a secreted stash of Halloween candy. At the risk of writing platitudes, the secret is pretty simple: acceptance and celebration of the reality of who we are. I keep encountering examples of this, and with it, a powerful support by women for each other's individuality.No place is this more evident than at the many art nd craft shows I have the great fortune to attend.
At the "Style at Stern" show in Palo Alto, CA this past weekend, women of all ages (but mostly close to my age) gathered, often in pairs or threes, to view and purchase wearable art, clothing and jewelry designed and made by individual artists. It felt like one giant party, with women trying on pieces, commenting to one another, swapping and sorting, adorning and experimenting, and more than anything else, celebrating the joy of expressing themselves through adornment. We were all there: with wrinkles and sags, stories and histories, some in wheelchairs and some in stilettos, some grey, some blonde, some botoxed, some crunchy, generations and girlfriends. But everyone - everyone!- was there to acknowledge individuality, and it was pretty overwhelming.
I met the designer Chris Triola and immediately fell head over heels with her presence, her clothing, and her ethos. Her clothing is fluid and graceful, comfortable and intriguing, easy to wear yet interesting to look at (very 50/50, yes?). It was no surprise to me to read her artist statement, "The clothes I design are clothes for creative women. They’re ‘doing’ clothes… things to wear when you’re writing, buying, selling, making, driving, thinking… and they don't impose. You shouldn't even know they’re there." Clothes for real women.
At the TEDWomen's conference last year, Madeline Albright stated, "There's a special place in Hell for women who don't help other women", and I was reminded of the statement as I watched women designers and women shoppers experimenting with clothing outside the norm ,as I longed for my long-distance best friend to share the experience with, as I sensed the great comfort so many women had in the presence of others, as the wave of support rolled over the room. Behind every great woman is...another great woman, and at all ages but particularly 50+, we are lucky enough to be aware of that.