Since 2011, the British department store Selfridges has kicked off the new year with its annual Bright Young Things campaign, showcasing emerging young design talent. But this year the venerable century-old department store decided to turn the bright young thing trope on its head. Reinventing its annual talent showcase as a celebration of second acts, Bright Old Things features artists and designers ranging in age from late-40s to mid-80s.
“This year we're celebrating the retirement renaissance and 14 inspiring individuals who've embraced a new vocation later in life,” reads a description on Selfridges website. “Selfridges acknowledges that ‘old’ is as subjective as it is irrelevant. Hand-picked talents, some who will be instantly recognizable, and some entirely new names, have been chosen to take part on the basis that they have undergone a ‘retirement renaissance,’ a complete career change or an inspiring step into the unknown.”
The Bright Old Things lineup includes fiftysomething retailer turned menswear designer Nick Wooster; octogenarian Molly Parkin, a fashion editor who turned to painting at age 55; 61-year-old architect turned topiarist Tim Bushe; and food writer turned artist Sue Kreitzman.
Each of the participants was given the blank canvas of a store window at Selfridge’s London flagship on Oxford Street, the city’s most commercial shopping artery, where an estimated 1 million people pass by every week. The window displays are meant as stage sets to offer glimpses of each designer’s creative process.
“As a centenary-old department store which has been successfully reinventing itself over and over again, it made so much sense for us to shine a light on the wealth of talent and experience harnessed by bright older creatives,” Selfridges creative director Linda Hewson said in a press release. “These people can definitely teach us all a thing or two about growing old whilst staying young at heart and relevant.”
The showcase and a popup boutique runs through the end of February at Selfridges; merchandise from the designers ranging from artwork to furniture and fashion can also be found online.