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At 63, 'Accidental Icon' Lyn Slater breaks fashion barriers

Lyn Slater remembers the exact moment she became, as she calls it, an "accidental icon."

It was New York City Fashion Week, and she was outside Lincoln Center wearing a Yohji Yamamoto suit and carrying a Chanel bag as she waited to meet a friend for lunch.

Calvin August Lom / Courtesy of Calvin August Lom
Fashion blogger Lyn Slater struts her stuff in an all-black ensemble.

"All of a sudden these photographers started to surround me and take pictures of me," Slater, 63, told TODAY Style. "A couple of journalists from Japan had approached me and were asking questions. Tourists started to see this and thought, 'That must be some important person in fashion!' so they started to take pictures of me. I had a huge crowd of people around me."

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Slater and her friend saw the humor.

"I was absolutely hysterical about it," said Slater, a professor at Fordham University's Graduate School of Social Service. "My friend and I started laughing. We were like, oh my gosh, you're an accidental icon! And I thought that would be the perfect name for my blog."

Now Slater's blog, Accidental Icon, has taken off in a big way — in fact, today it was announced that she has signed to ELITE London's Special Bookings division. Slater writes about fashion and beauty on the blog, focusing on lesser-known designers and brands she truly cares about while showcasing gorgeous photos of her unique looks.

It's all about perception. Photo: @lane_lang Styling: @lyj_____ Make-up: @jenevans Hair: @romana117 in @sickymag

A post shared by Accidental Icon (@iconaccidental) on

"Ever since I was really small I understood how clothing could help you express your aspirations, or help you be someone in the world that you wanted to be, so I would always have this sort of unique take on whatever I was wearing," Slater said.

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"I think my relationship to clothing has always been — and I use this word a lot — performative," she added.

Slater favors Japanese designers Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo: "They're my base wardrobe; I style around them."

Of course, Slater's blog also stands out in other ways — it's not every day you see a 63-year-old blogger killing it in the fashion world. Yet fans of Accidental Icon will notice Slater doesn't dwell on her age.

Courtesy of Calvin August Lom
Slater, 63, is a university professor and runs a fashion blog called Accidental Icon.

"I never talk about age on my blog; I never put myself out there as an older person," she said.

And interestingly, her largest group of followers is between the ages of 25 and 35, according to Slater's research.

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"I get a lot of emails from younger people saying ... you're making us feel like getting old is fun and cool, and that you can do whatever you want at whatever age," she said. "A lot of the comments on my Instagram are 'life goals.'"

"We are the generation, people my age, who were burning their bras, wanting free love, demonstrating against the war," Slater continued. "So to think we wouldn't challenge the status quo of aging? It might be more of an explanation of why women like me are becoming more accepted in the fashion world."

Sure enough, there is a trend toward embracing older women in advertising: recent campaigns have featured writer Joan Didion (82) and actresses Jane Birkin (70) and Vanessa Redgrave (80).

As Slater sees it, it's none too soon.

"It's time for a new outlook on what it means to be an older woman," she said.

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Sports Illustrated features 56-year-old model in annual swimsuit issue

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Sports Illustrated features 56-year-old model in annual swimsuit issue

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