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Photographers mistook college professor for fashion icon — so she became one

Accidental Icon

Accidental Icon | Facebook, "Fair Use"

Calah Alexander - published on 05/18/17

Defying stereotypes, one woman shows us fashion in a different light.

When Lyn Kennedy Slater launched a personal fashion blog for fun and named it Accidental Icon, she had no idea how fortuitous those words would be.

Dr. Slater is a clinical associate professor at the Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service and the former director of the Child Sexual Abuse Project at Lawyers for Children. She’s also the designated child abuse expert for the New York City Family Courts, responsible for developing a handbook for family court judges and establishing the first child advocacy centers in the city. She helped develop Fordham Law School’s Interdisciplinary Center for Family and Child Advocacy and co-published the textbook on social work and law.

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Slater’s interest in fashion developed practically; she dressed up to give lectures, and eventually took classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology. But as she told Fordham News, when she approached her 60s she began to see fashion in a different light:

“I began to use clothes and my appearance as a way to counteract some of the invisibility that comes with age,” she said. “As I started to take more risks, it in fact made me very visible. And people began to say, ‘You should start a blog.’”

When she began exploring the fashion blogosphere, the first thing she noticed was a lack of blogs written by or for older women. She set out to change that, designing her blog “almost in opposition to everything else out there,” for women like her — “smart, creative, fashion-forward, engaged.”

Barely a month later, Slater was meeting a friend for lunch by the Lincoln Center during Fashion Week when photographers suddenly surrounded her and began taking her picture. Tourists quickly followed suit, and when her photo ended up in Downtown magazine, Accidental Icon got a place in the spotlight.


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Her blog is fascinating, a vivid departure from most fashion blogs. She writes short ruminations on fashion, what it means for her and what inspires her. Her academia shows, but it enhances her writing in every way. Most delightfully, she concludes most of her posts in true professorial style–with a question to her readers, meant to draw them in and spark their own creativity.

Slater has said that contrary to most academics, she doesn’t see fashion as a frivolous topic; rather, it’s a powerful force that’s often seen as oppressive but can be productive. She uses her blog as a way to explore that productivity, and rebel against the established norms in the fashion industry. As she put it, “There aren’t age parameters in fashion. My motto has become, ‘Don’t tell me there are rules.’”

Slater is currently signed with Elite London, the world’s leading modeling company, and still teaches full-time at Fordham.

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