The Greynaissance: The UAE's Most Stylish Glam-mas

BY Olivia Phillips / Sep 19 2019 / 16:12 PM

When a doyenne speaks, you listen. Here’s what three of Dubai’s finest had to tell us about getting older in a world obsessed with youth…

The Greynaissance: The UAE's Most Stylish Glam-mas
Efraim Evidor

Shamira Mitha

54, Pakistani, Hospitality PR Specialist

“You have to fill your cup up with love for yourself, or you’ll have nothing to give anybody. Every day, you need to wake up and tell yourself how beautiful you are. Make time for yourself. Because if you don’t do it, no one else will. That’s the message I really want to spread which is why I’m writing my book, Feeling Fabulous At 50 and Beyond.

Photographed by Efraim Evidor

Dress, Dhs6,385, Max Mara. Beret, Dhs3,000, Saint Laurent.
All jewellery: Shamira’s own

For me, life really started at 50. I had a forced sabbatical at 40 after I suffered a lung collapse. I was on steroids for almost a year, put on a lot of weight and my self-esteem plummeted to an all-time low. Then, my husband bought me The Secret. I read it, woke up one day and decided to take control. I launched Verve, my PR agency, and realised I had to look good to play the part and be an ambassador for my business. I found myself with a new career in my 40s, and it was then that I realised a lot of women think that’s the end of their era. For me, it’s the most beautiful phase I’ve had. I get more compliments now than I did in my 20s!

My 82-year-old mum, who has less wrinkles than me, tells me I’m lazy and that if I did face yoga I wouldn’t have them. She used to tell me, ‘When you’re young, you don’t understand what it means to be old.’ I never quite got it, but now I do. When you’re young, you take so much for granted, from your looks to your body. But when you grow older and your wrinkles kick in and your skin starts to sag, you finally learn to appreciate life. Enjoy every moment. Every breath you take is beautiful. As for me, I love the lines around my eyes. It’s all about confidence, really. I feel better now than ever because I don’t look for endorsement from anyone. The best thing about getting older is the experience you take with you. If I was to live this life all over again, there’s absolutely nothing I would want to miss out. My highs, my lows, the good, the bad… it’s all a package. You should never have regrets or look back and think ‘I wish…’ No, wish for the future. That’s something that’s still in your control.”

Caroline Labouchere

55, English, Model &
Public Speaker

Photographed by Efraim Evidor

Dress, Dhs127,050; Shoes, Dhs5,440, both Ralph & Russo. Necklace, Dhs1,090, Elisabetta Franchi. All other jewellery: Caroline’s own

“My mum went grey at 20, and I started in my late 20s. I just dyed it – I was never going to look like my mother. But I moved here with it grey and every woman I met said, ‘You can’t have grey hair in Dubai!’ so I dyed it back immediately. When you come to a new place, you just want to fit in. Then six years ago my husband lost his job and we were literally sleeping on a mattress on the floor in someone’s empty apartment. So I let it go…
and it was the best thing I ever did. It kickstarted a whole new life.

After I hit 50, I felt like something was lit up inside of me and now I’m so excited for the future. I never longed for a career – I just wanted to get married, have kids and be supported. My husband was in the army so I followed him everywhere – that was my choice and I loved it. But now I feel like the person I was supposed to be. It was our 28th wedding anniversary last week and, for the first time, I feel I’m in control of my life. I stand beside my husband now, not behind him. And I’ve never felt more beautiful. Sure, I felt attractive when I was younger, but we were raised to walk past mirrors, not look in them. We weren’t all wandering around with our phones trying to find the best light. No one even taught me how to do my eyebrows…I basically had a monobrow until I was 30! For me, though, beauty is totally individual. I’m not anti-facelifts or anti anything, really. I don’t want to be old and wrinkly and I don’t intend to be. I would much rather be Jane Fonda. I’ve done Botox, I’ve done fillers… if I could take a pill that did everything, I would.  Not many people over 50 talk about plastic surgery, but if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you can talk about it till the cows come home!

As women, we’ve got to stop giving each other a hard time about those choices.”

Patricia Milns

69, English, Artist

Photographed by Efraim Evidor

Dress and cardigan, both Pleats Please. Neck wear:  Adornment Sequence by Patricia composed of Japanese tea bags. Hair bow, Vintage Chanel. Cuffs and rings: all Patricia’s own

“I don’t know why we value youth so much because, for me, there’s nothing as boring. There’s no experience and surface is just so superficial. I’d always rather talk to somebody interesting… although that’s not to say that people necessarily gain wisdom as they get older. But there’s something refreshing about the fact that you don’t really care about other people’s opinions anymore. I care about other people very much. But their opinion of me isn’t what I’m worth, so why should I worry? At 40, I was convinced that I was terribly free. But then when I got to 50, I thought, “Oh my goodness, I was so restrained when I was 40! And then 60… and now I’m really looking forward to next year when I’m 70. But I don’t really like classifications; it messes everything up. It’s much better just to do what you do rather than ask, ‘What car do you drive?’, ‘How old are you?’, ‘What does your husband do?’ If we put people in boxes then all of a sudden you’re ‘avant-garde’ or ‘boring’ if you’re doing something that isn’t the norm. But who says that’s the norm? You’re doing a feature about women of a certain age that society has told aren’t beautiful – but why aren’t we? And who’s to say what beauty is anyway? It changes all the time!

Having said that, I never actually think about if I’m beautiful. But that’s because it’s not part of what I’m doing. If I cared, I probably wouldn’t leave the house until I thought I was some idealised version of perfection. I decided very early on that I would never do plastic surgery. I have a body that I live in. I used to sail and climb and dive. This is just who I am. It’s what women are that matters to me so much more than the external, and that goes right through to my work. I’m very concerned with the Japanese concept of the spaces in between, not the western view of negative and positive. It’s people’s actions that become beautiful, not what they physically look like, and I’m not just saying that. I figured that out in my 20s and then everything else sort of fell into place.”

Styling by Tabitha Jane Glaysher
Photography by Efram Evidor

From Harper's BAZAAR Arabia' September 2019 Issue