Now that Anna Wintour is this content – and who wouldn’t be happy to find the dapper Bill Nighy hanging off their arm like this season’s must-have clutch bag – I have a question: do the greatest relationships flourish later in life?
The hard launch of what appeared to be the hottest new relationship in town – Billanna? Winty? – at the 2023 Met Gala saw Vogue supremo Wintour, who has hosted the Met Gala for 30 years, walk the red carpet arm in arm with the dashing and debonair Love Actually star, a man Clive James named “the nation’s leading male sexpot”.
Nighy has since confirmed the pair are “great friends” – but that didn’t stop tongues wagging. They seemed to be, to borrow modern parlance, Instagram official – much to the delight of Great British smoothy fans. It looked for all intents and purposes to be a relationship hard launch executed with Hollywood aplomb: rich in bright lights, glitz and glamour.
I’ll admit, I was a little jealous. It made me wonder: is there a better time to be newly in love than in your seventies? Both Anna and Bill are, if you can believe it, 73. She, with the timeless bob she’s been sporting since she was 14, is at the peak of her powers – she’s the first person fashion houses call for advice when they need a refresh. He is entering his “Leading Luvvie” era, ditching the supporting roles for masterpieces like the Oscar-nominated Living — for which Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro wrote the lead part with Nighy in mind.
Nighy has had love stories aplenty. For 27 years his partner was actor Diana Quick, and they remain close; their daughter, Mary, 38, is a director and has two children of her own. Meanwhile, Wintour has never been short of romantic attention. She dated Christopher Hitchens. According to legend, she vanished for a few days with Bob Marley (although she has denied they met). Her marriage to David Shaffer, a psychologist, ended in 1999, after which she had a 20-year relationship with the businessman Shelby Bryan. So, both seem ready for new chapters.
Nor would they be alone in enjoying a later-life renaissance. Between 1990 and 2010, divorce rates after age 50 doubled and remain at record levels. The result? More older singles. And boy, are they ready to mingle. The life milestones – kids, career progression, saving for a pension – are behind you: now, it’s you time.
In your seventies, the world is your oyster. You can stay up as late as you like and spray your hard-earned money around like confetti. Crucially, autonomy and equality are baked into relationships at this age from the start – no one’s having arguments about who’s doing the dishes or paying for dinner.
The sex is surely fantastic – you know what you want, when you want it and have no qualms about asking. And as for icks like snoring, they’re a thing of the past. A third of partnered but unmarried couples over the age of 50 live apart very happily – the older you are, the more likely you are to own separate homes. So, if bae is grinding their teeth in their sleep, scuttle back to your own pied-a-terre. (Or take your hearing aids out.)
We, Generation Internet, envy the style and wisdom that comes with age. Wintour donned a white patterned Chanel couture dress on the carpet. Bill opted for a simple dark suit. Meanwhile, Jared Leto – no spring chicken at 52-years-old – was prancing around in a giant fluffy white cat costume cosplaying the late designer’s Karl Lagerfeld’s pet moggy, Choupette. Pedro Pascal, 48, wore shorts. Trying to stay relevant is excruciating.
Nighy, for what it’s worth, is among the least online people alive – he never reads a word written about himself, doesn’t watch his own films and doesn’t even own a laptop. Perhaps the lesson is that you’re never too old to break the internet. Or maybe, when it comes to the red carpet, no look is as timeless as falling in love.