frances anderton, 53
When David Bowie died earlier this year, obituaries reminded us not only of the impact of his artistry, but of what he represented for an entire generation. In his many transformations, the through line was clear enough to anyone bothering to pay attention: a refusal to be pinned down.
There is an immense pride in that idea, and it's a message that has and will continue to resonate for people like Frances Anderton.
"I kind of like saying how old I am, because I don't feel like the 50 years old that I thought 50-year-old were when I was a child," she told me. "I'm part of the Bowie punk years. I think those 50-somethings are really anti-establishment, in a kind of fundamental way."
The native of Bath studied architecture in London before a magazine assignment in Los Angeles in 1987 forever changes her life plans. Covering the emerging Los Angeles school of architects (including Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry), Anderton resolved to return for good. she eventually did in 1991, first editing a local architectural newsletter before joining the team at beloved Santa Monica public radio station KCRW which launched her show DnA: Design and Architecture, now evolved from a monthly to weekly show, tackling questions of design and architecture.
I met Frances a few months ago on a panel discussion of Future of Luxury, and we resolved to mutually interview each other. What I found really interesting during our chat was how age-agnostic the station is. Shows or ideas for stories aren't demographically tested before being greenlit. A good story is a good story–that's all that matters.
"It's extremely limiting to think that if I'm black and I like 17th century Italian opera I'm aspiring to be white or something–It's crazy this kind of thing," she says. "It's completely limiting. It's insulting to everybody–Somehow they are their skin color, they are their age–that we're not bigger than that, that we're not more individual than that."
Of course, the frustration only increases when it come to advertising and the messaging and style brands are using in reaching out to her. "I feel so angry at being demographically targeted and that there is no consideration. It seems, about how the recipient might view that," she says. "I'm okay with going into menopause because I've had a child, I've had certain affirming experiences for a woman. I can deal with it. I do get that it's the cycle of life. Even with that said, I don't need to be reminded of menopause. "
"I'm getting ads about fine wines: `You're getting older, you're getting established, you want fine wines," she continued. "But I find that problematic as well, because it's making assumptions. Yes, I like fine wines but, guess what, I also like cheap crap from