A couple of months ago when I interviewed Lonely lingerie designer and co-founder Helene Morris, talk naturally turned to the brand’s incredible Lonely Girls Project. The photographic phenomenon was launched not long after the lingerie label, and has become one of the key identifiers of the brand. It shows real customers and lovers of the brand wearing the lingerie, and was a direct reaction to traditional lingerie imagery. Helene has said in the past the goal was to "empower women, make them realise that they don't have to be a certain way to feel beautiful”, and it has been a consistently glorious, runaway success. More women are being discovered and photographed all the time, and Helene tells me “it’s incredible how it has connected the brand with women from all over the world. We are really proud of what we have achieved with it so far.”
The Lonely Girls are body confident and amazingly diverse, but often still quite young. When I asked if there are plans to feature older Lonely fans too, I got a definite “yes” from the designer. “We tend not to define age as a boundary for our customers,” said Helene, “but often we do find younger women more eager to come forward. Continuing to define our version of diversity is something we are passionate about.”
Well that was all very much about keeping the cat firmly in the bag as this week they unleashed the beauty you see here – images of the devastatingly gorgeous muse Mercy Brewer (56), as shot by Harry Were.
Originally from Scotland, Mercy was a punk in the 80s, lived in squats in London and then hit the runways with the likes of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell in the 90’s, before moving to New Zealand with her husband in the early 2000s. Having lived such a rich and interesting life, Mercy perfectly embodies the Lonely spirit that celebrates strong, confident women who challenge societal norms and aren’t always represented in mainstream media.
“At Lonely, we feel that it is important to challenge what we see in our media with a more authentic reflection of beauty and hope to grow people’s visual vocabulary,” said Helene this week as the images were released. “The beauty and fashion industries are so obsessed with youth, but the reality is we are all ageing, and there are so many wonderful things about growing older. So often the primary message around age is intervention, which is a frustrating response to such a natural, inevitable process.”
Mercy, who first started modelling in the 1980s, is hopeful that these standards will continue to evolve as time goes on. “Perceptions of beauty have and always will change, therefore I think we can conclude its standard is not set in stone, and new beauty is always waiting to be discovered,” she said. “I believe we are in a moment in time where older women's beauty has been a startling revelation. If we don't recognise it, we, every one of us, deny ourselves a future to look forward to.”
Hallelujah to that! Now where’s my credit card? I think this collection is Lonely’s strongest yet…
All photos by Harry Were
For more information about Lonely, visit www.lonelylabel.com.