Author Caroline de Maigret on Her Poignant, Playful Book, “Older, But Better, But Older”

Stories about the humor, power and beauty of aging

With How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits, French authors Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas, Anne Berest and Audrey Diwan tapped into the world’s fixation with the beloved French city, its inhabitants, the surrounding stereotypes and underlying truths. The book was an international success—laugh-out-loud funny and wise beyond expectation. Now, de Maigret (a Chanel ambassador, activists and filmmaker) has collaborated with Mas on a new book, Older, But Better, But OlderThrough wit, wonder, experience and observation, the writers weave together stories on the beauty, humor and power of aging. Mischievousness gives way to worldliness, and amusement flowers throughout.

Courtesy of Joe Schildhorn/BFA.com

“It happened quite naturally,” de Maigret says of the book’s origin. At first, “It was just about living life how you always live it while you accumulate knowledge and experience—but, little by little, everything is changing. You find yourself in situation that wouldn’t have happened before. People start to call you madame more and more often.” De Maigret observed that, with aging, people began to put her in boxes that surprised her—the book became an exercise to interpret it all, and to say goodbye to what she refers to as the Youth Club.

Society has a tendency to tell us how cool it is to grow up and get older and we agree. Then society reinforces this idea that youth is so amazing.

“You have to digest all these little surprises and understand that you are going a process,” she continues. “I had not really heard about it through older friends. I felt a sense of isolation and others could even approach it with depression. Society has a tendency to tell us how cool it is to grow up and get older and we agree. Then society reinforces this idea that youth is so amazing. I wanted to point that out.”

Courtesy of Joe Schildhorn/BFA.com

These sensations also led to the book’s tone. “Humor has always been my way of communication in fashion videos. It’s also a way of not forcing an idea into people’s minds. Either you can take what we say on one level, in a linear way, what you see is what it is, or you can understand that we are making a joke and touching something bigger. Humor is a great way to talk about more important things.”

I believe that there’s nothing more interesting than the knowledge of those who came before me.

de Maigret has noticed a changing attitude toward aging, in general. “Women accept the idea that they can be represented by women of the same age in fashion,” she says. “We are in an industry where youth has the most important role. Beyond that, the knowledge and experience of elders is taken into less consideration. I believe that there’s nothing more interesting than the knowledge of those who came before me. It’s the key to everything. We must foster a healthy relationship with elders and youth.”

Courtesy of Agathe and Antonin

“People are attracted to authenticity—and it is through life stories that you vibrate with consumers and get emotions,” she continues. De Maigret says this is due to her mother and grandmother, who took to the streets in France to fight for their rights. “This is from our mothers,” she says. This, in turn, has coaxed her own activism.

Older, But Better, But Older bears the wisdom of someone who has lived and worked around the world, but it also harks back to de Maigret’s Parisian nature. “Fashion is part of our culture—like Chanel, an iconic house. Paris carries a history of haute courter and, even unconsciously, we do as Parisians. It’s in the aesthetic of the city itself.”

She’s grateful to Chanel for her role as an ambassador and for the opportunity to helm their campaigns. “We share the same ideas of women, strength and independence,” she adds. All of these ideas coalesce into a book of inspired tales we can all connect with.

Hero image courtesy of Bertrand Le Pluard