Age-defying icons: 9 legendary women (Sophia! Twiggy! Yoko!) on the art of personal style

Culture: Age

Read what Sophia Loren, Twiggy and more have to share about the wisdom of aging and the stories of art, music and fashion.

Sophia Loren | Twiggy | Yoko Ono | Joan Collins | Donna Karan
Annie Nightingale | Deborah Harry | Iris Apfel | Mary Mcfadden


Sophia Loren

Photography by Kate Gabrielle

SOPHIA LOREN

Working with wardrobe departments on more than 90 films, Sophia Loren has a relationship with clothing that few can fathom. In fact, the 77-year-old Neapolitan actress insists it is because of her close ties to the people she calls “the greatest fashion and costume designers of our time” that she feels qualified to impart any fashion wisdom.

“Find someone who lives for clothes and learn from them,” she suggests via phone from her home in Geneva. “Along with Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent, who taught me how to choose great fabrics, I had the fortune of knowing the maestro—Emilio Schuberth,” she says. The late Italian designer’s claim to fame was dressing golden age beauties such as Ingrid Bergman and Rita Hayworth.  “Although I believe stylists and designers should not influence your personal style, they can educate you when it comes to things like cuts and fabrics,” says Loren. “Your clothes are highly personal and your choices tell people who you are. Having someone dictate your look can be like surrendering your identity.”

Self-assurance is something that Loren is quite comfortable speaking about. Having been in the public eye for more than six decades (she was 15 when she filmed her first feature) in one of the most youth-driven industries on the planet, Loren says she quickly learned to stop comparing herself to other actresses in her league. “I never had Audrey Hepburn’s body, so I never bothered to dress like her,” Loren says. “My experience in the world of cinema taught me to listen to my curves—they dictate the designs I choose.

“I also learned how not to dress from three characters I played in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” she says of the 1963 comedy she starred in. “They were extreme versions of women. One was an underprivileged lady named Adelina who sold cigarettes on the streets—she looked sloppy,” she says. “Another character I played in the film was Anna, a sophisticated politician’s wife in Milan. The house of Dior made her furs and dresses—they were very conservative and too constricting for me. And the third [role] was Mara, a Roman call girl, who wore brilliant but far too revealing pieces for me.”

Referring to herself as “an eternal 12-year-old spirit,” Loren says her Oscar-winning performance in 1960’s Two Women changed her life and her aesthetic. “That film took me in a serious, artistic direction,” she says intensely. “Every part of me was transformed.”

Sophia Loren | Twiggy | Yoko Ono | Joan Collins | Donna Karan
Annie Nightingale | Deborah Harry | Iris Apfel | Mary Mcfadden

Join the Discussion