Timeless beauty: Fashion show features 'gorgeous grandmothers'

PRESCOTT - The catwalk strut was somewhat sedate, and some of the models needed help from canes or walkers.

Even so, Tuesday's fashion show at the Peridot Retirement and Assisted Living center in Prescott had its share of similarities to its counterparts in New York or Paris.

Just as the young super-models of the high-fashion world seem to own the styles they wear, the five models at the Peridot exuded comfort and confidence as they showed off embroidered denim jackets, elastic-waste clam diggers and color-coordinated ensembles.

Dubbed the "Gorgeous Grandmother Day," Tuesday was a time to celebrate the older woman at the Bradshaw Drive Peridot.

Along with the fashion show that featured styles from Frontier Village's BonWorth store, the event also included a Hawaiian-inspired luncheon with decorations ranging from brightly colored flip-flops to tropical fish.

"Every month, we have a big to-do," Theresa O'Leary, life enrichment director at the Peridot, said. This month, she said, the many grandmothers who live at the Peridot were the honored guests.

And it was obvious from the enthusiasm of the models and the interest of the several dozen women seated at the decorated tables that style was a popular topic.

Florence Wells, for instance, said she has always loved fashion, and at 97, that interest hasn't waned. "I like to look nice," she said, as she prepared to don her first outfit for the fashion show.

To help embellish her two fashion show outfits, including the forest green jacket-and-pants ensemble with matching print top that she was modeling first, Wells wore her own mother-of-pearl earrings and burnished silver necklace.

"I've got lots of jewelry, and I thought these would go with both outfits," she said.

A Yavapai County resident for most of her life, Wells was no stranger to most of the people in the audience. She recalls moving to Castle Hot Springs from Colorado as a youngster after her mother got a job as a cook for the mines. Later, Wells lived in a number of out-of-the-way places in the county before getting a job as postmaster in Wickiup in 1962.

With five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, Wells was an obvious choice for the fashion show.

"Florence is always game to do all of these things," O'Leary said.

Other models also fit the bill for the special event.

At 88, Noma Childs said she too likes to keep up with current style trends. Modeling a black and white herringbone tunic and white pants, she chose to accessorize her outfit with jewelry of her own as well.

"That's how come I wore these today," she said, fingering the black-and-white bead necklace and white teardrop earrings.

Barbara Darre, manager of BonWorth, noted that the store caters to the "more mature shopper."

Assistant Manager Donna Waiter, who narrated the fashion show, agreed, pointing out that "We pride ourselves on making clothes that do not show belly-buttons."

Each of the five Peridot models stopped by the store prior to Tuesday's event to choose their own outfits for the fashion show, Darre said.

"I love working with the senior ladies," she said, pointing out that the fashion shows are a way for BonWorth to get out the word about its styles.

At the same time, Darre said the store also attracts younger shoppers, adding that BonWorth markets to shoppers 45 years old and up.

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com.