From Stage Star to Vogue Cover: Why Can’t Age Wither Judi Dench | Culture


You can’t call Judi Dench lazy when it comes to contributing to society, but she’s been particularly focused on cheering up lately. Who knows, maybe she felt compelled to make up for her turn Cats film, where his feline character horrified viewers by appearing to be wearing a coat made of his own fur. Dench provided vital comedic relief in this time of crisis, mostly with silly clips on social media – a Twitter video of her wearing a fancy dog ​​hat with pop-up ears in which she asks us to “keep on Laugh ”has accumulated 5.4 million views. Now, she has provided a much fleshier ride by becoming, at 85, British VogueThe oldest star in the cover.

On the front page of the June issue of the magazine, the Oscar winner wears a Dolce & Gabbana floral coat. But her outfit is far from the most striking thing in the photo. Instead, what immediately strikes you is her pixie haircut and sparkling blue eyes. And yes, her wrinkled skin doesn’t go unnoticed either – not surprisingly, since fashion magazines, like the rest of society, aren’t exactly known for celebrating aging.

Vogue cover in June with Judi Dench.

Vogue cover in June with Judi Dench. Photography: Nick Knight / Vogue

There are several encouraging messages to remove from the cover. First of all, could it be that the world of phobic fashion has finally realized that women do not turn into unsightly crones by the time they reach 40? (And that readers will not desert magazines when they choose to highlight them …)

Admittedly, Dench is far from being a woman. Its power in megawatt stars means that it can, to some extent, escape the prejudices generally directed against the elderly. But since the editor Condé Nast says that the average Vogue reader is 39 for the print version and 44 for online. This number may allow readers to feel better represented based on their age. This in turn could encourage the magazine to introduce more older stars in the future.

But the coverage also applauds for a billion other reasons. At 85, Dench is among the highest risk groups for Covid-19; as his number arrives at newsstands, discussions continue on an extended lockout for those over 70. In other words, we are only too aware of the potential physical consequences of aging today. In this context, photos of his malicious smile feel provocative. A bit like Captain Tom Moore, except in silk. It’s for this same reason that his playful videos on social networks have been so successful. (With the dog hat offer, Dench did a TikTok dance with his grandson and went viral after partnering with Gyles Brandreth for a rendition of The owl and the Kitty.)

In addition, while the interview compared Dench to “comfortable cultural tea”, the conversation showed that it was much sharper than that. Take her pleasantly frank response to her outfit in Cats. She describes her cape as: “Like five foxes kissing on my back. Society tends to patronize the elderly, claiming that they are universally benign. In addition to giving an overview of how it works on set, Dench’s confession that it can “be very difficult if someone takes me for granted” suggests that, well … don’t try this attitude with she.

Judi Dench January 18, 1978.

The actress – with her branded pixie cut – in 1978. Photo: Jane Bown / The Observer

Plus, as we continue to fetish young people – just think of the tributes to how the BBC Normal people portrays the intensity of being young – a “very sharp” representation, according to a recent Guardian editorial, of “the unforgettable intensity of first love and lust – Dench reminds us that there is also a lot of inspiration and liveliness among the senior generation. . Psychotherapist Esther Perel recently spoke in a Financial times podcast on how grandparents discussing difficult times in their lives with younger parents can be a way to pass on resilience across generations. I was reminded of this by watching the online video with Dench’s interview, in which young stars grill her for professional advice. Yes, she talks a lot about acting rather than something darker, but it still confirms that with age comes wisdom.

Age is not just a number; Dench is candid about the physical challenges he brings. “It’s terrible to be so dependent on people,” she says, to stop driving. Despite everything, it fiercely resists the expectations that accompany aging. Take her attitude towards retirement, for example: “Rage, rage against the death of light”, that’s how she sums it up, quoting Dylan Thomas. All in all, you find yourself thinking that even if you can’t fight the physical reality of aging, it’s possible to push back the stigma that accompanies it.

Indeed, Dench’s cover will inevitably be marked as anti-aging, but it is more accurate to say that it defies our expectations regarding aging. His both Vogue and celebrity social media prove that vitality exists far beyond the youth, and that it is frankly ridiculous that society discards older women, given their style, spirit and energy. Honestly, Dench has been so busy giving all kinds of key lessons lately, I suggest that he take a break and retire. But, of course, she would never agree with that.


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