Thérèse: Not Dead Yet

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“‘Don’t you think you’re too old to sing rock n’ roll?’ some guy said to me. I said- “You’d
better check with Mick Jagger.” – Cher

Why, I ask you, is there an international media debate whenever France’s First Lady
Brigitte Macron “dares” to wear leather pants, skinny jeans, or above-the- knee skirts?
This is an ageist, feminist, and cultural issue. There’s none of that nonsense in France.
Vogue and Paris Match adore her style. Brigitte is sexy and smart – she’s confident,
she’s rock and roll. When asked about the timing of her husband’s run for office, she
quipped, “Because by 2022 his problem will be my face.”

The suitcase for my trip to Montreal and Paris tomorrow is replete with the eponymous
leather pants, short skirts, and “car-to- carpet” high heels. As I was packing, I wondered
what it is about leather that is deemed so inappropriate? Should I be avoiding silk and
velvet while I’m at it, throwing away the suede boots? Are there other fabrics that have
a “sell by my birth date” label? Obviously I’ve never been anywhere near lycra or
spandex, so there’s no risk of that, but my generation invented denim and now we’re
supposed to retire it? I don’t think so. At this point, shouldn’t we be shaking our tail
feather or are feathers out as well?

It was Bridget Jones’ Diary that first made me realize I needed a female role model.
Whenever Bridget had a decision to make she would ask herself, “What would Madonna
do?” It’s a great idea, but as corsets and fishnet stockings proved not to be such a good
look at the school gates, I eventually I had to look elsewhere for inspiration. Back in
those days I came up with Audrey Hepburn and not because of her children’s charity – it
was for those black Capri pants, boat-necked cocktail dresses, and her ability to look
impossibly chic even when visiting war-torn countries. I suppose the more evolved
among you might ask Marie Curie would do, or Emily Pankhurst, or Indira Ghandi, or
Malala. I know; call me shallow.

Now I have a new role model in Brigitte who, like me, is une femme d’un certain âge,
which is a compliment in France where the men have a penchant for older women.
Doubtless if we live long enough we’ll become femmes d’un âge certain, which is a
completely different thing, but that’s not happening yet. Well, not in Paris, where I’m
headed in black leather jeans just as soon as I finish this post. À Bientôt…

Thérèse is the author of two novels, India’s Summer and Letter from Paris, both
published by The Story Plant.

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On September 11, 2017

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