In a tribute to gray-haired glamazons everywhere, legendary fashion photographer Tim Walker and illustrator Lawrence Mynott have created a glorious two-volume coffee table book called The Granny Alphabet, published by Thames and Hudson.
Walker usually shoots fashion models like Kate Moss and Tilda Swinton, but now turns his camera on 26 geriatric goddesses, pairing each with a letter and a rhyming poem by Kit Hesketh-Harvey. “Patricia poses with panache./The puma coat is fake./The pearls, I’d say, are perfect./The platforms, a mistake,” goes the rhyme for the biddy all dolled up for the letter P. Photographs of dentures floating dreamily in water and bundles of yarn and knitting needles also grace these pages. Walker describes the book as “part photographic love letter to the elderly and part documentation of the dying breed of little old ladies who live down the lane.”
The second volume is an alphabet wittily illustrated by Mynott, whose work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery of London and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Despite their uniqueness, Mynott tells Co.Design that the illustrations weren’t based on real individuals. “Curiously, all 26 grannies were painted in my studio in Morocco, so my memories played a large part in this. Even though many of them are totally imaginary, I do hope that people will recognize them.”
The subject of “M is for Mink” is a little old lady ensconced in fur and walking a Yorkie terrier–a species native to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, but known the world over. “E is for Elegant” features an impeccably coiffured old madam with a haughtily turned-up nose.
“The original brief from Tim Walker was quite simply to give me a list of words from A-Z (C is for Chic, etc),” Mynott tells Co.Design. “It was entirely up to me to interpret each word through a character, which was where the fun began, and that I hope was achieved through wit and affection.” Some of the battle-axes in these pages make us excited for old age.
Grannies seem to be having a moment: Co.Design recently covered “Grey Power,” an “image boost” for the geriatric set, and the campaign Grandparents Gone Wired recently enlisted 13 to 25 year olds to teach old folks to be tech savvy.
Tim Walker is donating all proceeds from the book to Friends of the Elderly.