Selfridges celebrates ‘retirement renaissance’ with Bright Old Things

In a twist on its annual Bright Young Things talent scheme, department store Selfridges has launched a campaign showcasing work by creatives aged 40 to 80‐something, including an 82‐year‐old painter and former fashion editor, an architect turned topiarist and 70s punk musician Bruno wizard…

As its name suggests, Selfridges‘ new talent scheme is usually a celebration of youth − past participants include set designer Anna Lomax, illustrator Chrissie McDonald and Becky Sloan of animation duo Becky & Joe. This year, however, the store has invited 14 senior artists, designers and musicians to create original window displays and limited edition products, which will be sold online and in store via a Bright Old Things boutique.

Bright Old Things boutique at Selfridges Oxford Street

Participants include wellknown names such as instagram style icon and menswear designer Nick Wooster, as well as those who are relatively new to their chosen craft. In a press release announcing the project, Selfridges says creatives were selected ‘on the basis that they have undergone a ‘retirement renaissance’, a complete career change or an inspiring step into the unknown.

‘With the ages of the participating artists, designers, musicians and entrepreneurs ranging from late-forties to mid-eighties, Selfridges acknowledges that ‘old is as subjective as it is irrelevant, it adds.

The line up also includes Tony Gibson, a former graphic and product designer who created prototypes for Pot Noodles and Heinz squeezy ketchup bottles, and now runs video blog Earth News for Space; Sue Kreitzman, a former food writer and artist who recently featured in Channel 4 documentary Fabulous Fashionistas, William Forbes‐Hamilton, a painter and former actor and Sean Connery stand in and Sand Laurenson, a former police officer who left school at 16, joined the Met at 20 and recently became the oldest student to study on a postgraduate course at the Royal Academy after taking up fine art in her forties.

Window display by Bruno Wizard

Each participant was asked to create a window display offering an insight into their creative process, studio or practice: Molly Parkin, 82, a painter and former fashion editor at the Sunday Times, has recreated her colourful home; Bruno Wizard, the former front man of punk bands The Rejects and The Homosexuals, has created a red white and blue display complete with giant octopus (apparently a reflection of his work as a polymath) while Forbes‐Hamilton‘s studio style space is filled with blank canvases waiting to be painted.

Windows displays will be on show until February, and products for sale include chairs, prints, jewellery, original paintings, frames designed by Roope and textiles by Sally Peplow, a teaching assistant who took up textile design at 50.

Window display by Sue Kreitzman

To promote the scheme, the store also commissioned photographer and illustrator Todd Selby to capture each participant in their home or workspace. Photographs are featured in store and on Selfridges‘ website alongside bios and illustrated interviews.

Display by Michael Lisle‐Taylor, a sculptor and former Royal Navy Aircraft Engineer

Display by eyewear designer and former optician Robert Roope

As we reported yesterday following Joan Didions appointment as the face of Celine, age is a hot topic in the fashion industry, with several brands and magazines employing models and cover stars in their 60s, 70s and 80s of late. Whether this is a lasting change or merely a passing trend remains to be seen, but it‘s refreshing to see one of the UK‘s biggest stores showcase the achievements not just of twenty somethings fresh from art school, but men and women on their second, third or even fourth careers − and a great reminder that it‘s never too late to pursue a new vocation…

For details, see or follow #BrightOldThings on twitter.

Interview with artist and former food writer Sue Kreitzman, illustrated by Todd Selby

Interview with eyewear designer Robert Roope, illustrated by Todd Selby