RACHEL WARD’S FRANCO STYLE FILE

Hair iron

Rachel Ward, former actor turned writer and director, perennial style icon, is in Paris. She’s on a mission to chronicle the famed grace and elegance of the mature women she encounters on the boulevards and in the Metro.

For the next six weeks she’ll be offering her snapshots exclusively at The Hoopla. 

Why? It’s an interesting tale. Read on…

I admire Madonna’s ability to turn cartwheels at the Superbowl, I admire her energy and ambition and her compassion for African kids so I’ve been wondering what it is that so bothers me about her still primping and preening for the cameras and her audience.

 width=Or for that matter those pics of Daphne Selfe – Eat your Heart Out Madonna – wonderfully lithe at 84 but why the wind-blown pose and pout of a 20-year-old? The truth is there is just something plain creepy about post-menopausal women carrying on like red-bottomed baboons when, clearly, they are past procreating.

Old habits die hard though and many women, only exposed to images of Dame Eda or the Queen as examples of post-menopausal women, cling longer than they often should to sexually embedded ideals of beauty and fashion.

I don’t blame them. At 54 I’ve dragged my feet too.

After a long, ambiguous relationship with my breasts I am now finding it hard to accept that it is time to ‘put them away’.  My wardrobe, full of scruffy boho items has been culled. (They now occupy a large suitcase that I can’t quite dispense of in case of time-machine miracles.)

Arty, Birkinesque, Glebe market treasures or Tree of Life fare tend to look tired and dirty after… well, probably, after 30… so I’m definitely over-due there.

Much to husband’s horror the tresses are gone too. All right for those with still thick, sleek, grey or tinted manes but the rest of us start to resemble something mummified if left long and stringy. In which case short and sharp might not be as fetching on the pillows but sure works better in daylight.

Much of the horror of ageing for me is less the lines, sags and bags than the face setting into ‘cross mode’.

That really is unfair, especially when, with independence regained after the toll of childrearing years and a nice disposable income, many of us have never felt perkier.

We’re all in this ageing lark together and most of us aren’t looking to defy the inevitable changes and freeze frame, but cosmetic surgery has come a long way.

I’m not looking for fat red lips to advertise my vulva but a little freshen up here and there to reflect my health and happiness, why not?

We hear a lot about becoming invisible past a certain age but invisible to whom? Sure, men aren’t looking like they did. Apparently it’s embedded in their infantile DNA to only look at what they can impregnate, and most younger women are probably too busy multi-tasking to notice us.

 width=Paris: 53-year-old woman in tailored overcoat, cowboy boots and low-slung satchel.

But I am certainly looking at other women my age and, for the first time since I was at an all-girl’s boarding school, I find myself having secret crushes on a few dynamic, articulate, feisty, witty and stylish older women. There’s no doubt that two-dimensional images don’t serve us in the way they once did but in all our Technicolor three-dimensional glory we leave our younger selves for dead.

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