Meet Lyn Slater, The Professor And Women Rights Advocate Who Became A Fashion Icon In Her Sixties
Age is not a variable, she says. And for the Fordham University professor-turned-blogger and Instagram star, it never will be.
It's a message that Lyn Slater sent out to the world on that fateful day when she was first dubbed an "accidental icon"—a moniker she has since taken to heart and used to empower women of all ages and backgrounds.
Looking back at the beginning of her fame, it made perfect sense that Lyn was mistaken for a fashion personality at the 2014 New York Fashion Week. She was decked out in a Yohji Yamamoto suit that she accessorized with a Chanel bag and an Anna Wintour-esque chin-length bob that accentuated her platinum gray hair. While waiting to meet a friend at the Lincoln Center, an army of photographers, reporters and tourists surrounded her, assuming her to be a headlining guest at the event.
Her friend, upon arriving, had a good laugh at the scene and said, "Oh, look at this—an accidental icon.” The name stuck.
The New York native, who had previously anchored her life on a career in criminal justice and social welfare, took it as a sign to officially pursue her love of fashion and all things creative. She decided to make use of the design and technology courses she took at New York's prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology, where she was constantly encouraged to build an online presence.
Soon afterwards, Lyn launched her blog, accidentalicon.com, in 2010 simply as a hobby, but unexpectedly saw it morph into a statement on ageism. Women of the same age bracket as well as younger ladies flocked to her website because of how cool and non-conforming she was. They came for her shopping hauls, travel entries, and fashion inspirations that had her decked out in head-to-toe designer outfits that oozed effortless NYC street style.
@barneysny snake inspired stairway is the perfect perch for a girl born in the year of the snake. Every time there is a post with #HassRules @barneysny will donate $5 to Children’s Defense Fund, near and dear to my social work heart. As the @thehaasbrothers say, “Snake love not war”. #threequestions #reset #holiday #share #children #fashionforgoodcause #fashionforaction
Overall, she was an uncommon, but much-needed, sight: a confident 60-something woman making an impact in a millennial-dominated field. It was a response to the fashion industry's unspoken casting aside of older women to represent it. She filled a niche in fashion that many women had not realized even needed to be filled.
"This project is me saying, 'I’m not 20, and I don’t want to be 20,'" she revealed in a W magazine interview. She's completely satisfied right where she is, in spite of and despite her age—something that she hopes other women from her generation can also feel.
In other words, she's aware that she's older, but so what? Did being in her sixties mean she needed to put a cap on her self-expression? Is there an invisible barrier between "young" and "old" that stops mature women from being fashionable? Her answer is a resounding "no." Is she happy and comfortable at her age? Absolutely, without a doubt.
Now that she's built a sphere of influence and has fully accepted her new role, she's also gone on to say that she refuses to work on age-specific projects and campaigns, explaining that she does not want to to be the heroine of a consumer bracket separated from the mainstream because of age. If she is to be a brand ambassador or product endorser, she should do it because she embodies the label's philosophy or style no differently than her younger contemporaries. Age should have nothing to do with it, because fashion is for everyone.
“I want to engage people of all ages who want to think and talk about fashion, and not just consume it,” she continues, emphasizing the need for fashion-loving individuals like herself to be more discerning of the values and attitudes the industry promotes.
Today, the sexagenarian fashionista caters to almost half a million Instagram followers and thousands of daily visitors on her blog, where she engages with anyone from 18-year-old college students to 30-year-old professionals and 65-year-old retirees. She's also had her fair share of fashion editorials and modeling stints, appearing on the cover of Grey Magazine, becoming a Mango model, and even signing with ELITE London’s Special Bookings division. Her mantra, "Age is not a variable," has even been turned into a hashtag.
When it comes to her followers and collaborators, all of them see her as an icon.
As Lyn goes on to inspire more and more women every day, one thing becomes clearer and clearer: this was a mission Lyn was set on, and hardly any of it seems to be accidental.
Photos from @iconaccidental