If there is one celebrity I would most love to emulate when I reach my seventies, it is Helen Mirren. The actress celebrated her 75th birthday on Sunday, reminding us just how smoothly she’s navigated the challenges of aging in the public eye.
One of the secrets to her success is that she hasn’t followed the usual A-list formula of Botox, fillers and a punishing exercise regime, but nor has she thrown up her hands and surrendered to her advancing years.
That’s not to say she’s in denial about her age - rather, she celebrates it (as we all should, for age is a privilege). From her just-the-right-shade of pale gold hair to a skincare regime and makeup that makes her glow on the red carpet as if lit from within, Mirren sets a new standard for the seventy-something woman that is, for many, actually attainable.
“You should pay attention to health, don’t smoke,” she says. “Do everything but not too much of anything. I like no airbrushing. I always argue against it in my L’Oreal ads.”
The way she dresses has a lot to do with this image. Mirren has found a fashion formula that works for her: tailored blazers, open necklines, ankle-length dresses and some kind of statement jewellery on her ears or neck (but rarely both - she doesn’t do OTT).
On the red carpet, she doesn’t shroud herself in shapeless muumuus - she has a fantastic figure and posture that means she looks best in evening gowns fitted at the waist. These usually have drama around the neckline or in a full, swishy skirt, yet long sleeves as a modest contrast.
Of course, rules are made to be broken, and nobody enjoys throwing out the propriety book more than Mirren, who takes pride in being a low-key rebel. Under those gowns she’s often wearing edgy black ankle boots or what she describes as “stripper shoes” - ultra-high platforms that she finds more comfortable than regular heels.
She has also spoken about the tattoo of interlocking Vs on her left hand, admitting that getting inked is “a little bit addictive. I think as I get older, I'll get more tattoos,” she said.
Then there was the time last year that she dyed her hair pink - a bold move, especially ahead of a Cannes Film Festival appearance, and yet it looked better on her than it did on younger stars who have also tried the look such as Jennifer Love Hewitt, Elle Fanning and Cruz Beckham.
Of course, it’s clear that Mirren is making these choices because they’re fun and bring her joy, not because she’s hoping that they’ll make her seem younger and more relevant. That’s the result of stacks of self-confidence, which we see in her no-makeup Instagram selfies and back in 2008 when an image of her in a red M&S bikini made headlines across the globe.
She later admitted that she had been sucking in her stomach and cheeks while her husband, Taylor Hackford, took her photo, but regardless of her ability to pose like a pro, it cemented her status as the world’s sexiest septuagenarian - a reputation that shows no sign of going anywhere fast.