Do older people abandon fashion, or does fashion abandon older people?

July 21, 2010

Hi, my name is Garvan Gallagher and I'm an artist currently working with Draíocht Arts Centre in Blanchardstown until next year, and I'm looking for participants who are retired and up for a bit of adventure.

The project I'm undertaking is a photographic one and has a serious message. It's to do with the idea of invisibility that retired people commonly talk about. I made a previous photographic project with retired people in my hometown in Donegal, and the subject was raised by most of them. City life would probably be no different. Some felt that since they are over 65 and retired, their status in society had been downgraded as such. Some of them commented on younger people not acknowledging them, often looking right past them.

Garvan Gallagher

My 15-month residency with Draíocht offers me the chance to extend that research and make a new body of work that looks at this idea of invisibility within the older generation in Ireland. For this project, my research begins at an important source of our collective obsession with youth – the fashion-advertising image. The advertising industry makes money from promoting youth. Historically, it has been in their interest to promote ageing as something ugly and avoidable. That may be something that will soon be confined to history, as our older population is increasing all the time as we live longer and healthier lives. The advertising industry predominately targets a younger audience with younger skinner beautiful models, with fashion also geared to that genre.

The question my project will ask therefore is, ‘do older people abandon fashion, or does fashion abandon older people?’. Are older people invisible also to the fashion industry? I want to use the idea of printed media, the glossy magazine, the Vogue's and various other fashion shoots celebrating youth and promoting glamour, as the inspiration for giving older people a stage to look as beautiful and glamorous as their youthful counterparts. I will attempt to re-create fashion shots with older people as opposed to what society would normally expect to see – that of a younger body.

The process would be a slow one; a person could get photographed many times in the space of a year, allowing them time to get used to the process and to me, and hopefully have a really good time doing it. I would like the result to be a very strong comment on what we as a society perceive to be 'beautiful'. The work will be exhibited in an exhibition at Draíocht in September 2011.

Please get in touch if you feel like getting involved. You can email me: <>, or just call into Draíocht and say hi, we'll have a cup of coffee and I'll answer any questions you have. Bring your friends and get them all involved. The more the merrier!

In the meantime, I've created a questionnaire for anyone over 50 to help me with my research:

If you are interested in taking part, please call in to Draíocht and we'll arrange a time for you to meet with Garvan, or phone us on 8852622.


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