It started out as a street-style fashion blog, then it became a popular book, and now it is a feature-length documentary. ‘Advanced Style‘, which is out now at selected theaters around the US is the brain-child of New York-based photographer Ari Seth-Cohen, whose passion is to capture unique, fashionable and fabulous women in the big apple.
There’s one main detail that differentiates these women from literally every other fashion blog or documentary you’ve seen. All the women captured are at least in their 60s! Yep, advanced means advanced in age, and honestly it is one of the most refreshing, human, beautiful and realistic fashion documentaries we have seen in a long time.
It is a far cry from the view of fashion we are used to in magazines, mainstream media and on the internet during every major fashion week which just happened in September.
“In an industry obsessed with youth, these older women dispel conventional ideas about beauty and aging and prove that with age comes grace and confidence,” says the film’s description. The film was made by Ari himself and directed by Lina Plioplyte. Ari and Lina met in New York 6 years ago and were both instantly attracted to each other’s fashion sense. This connection formed a budding creative relationship between the 2, and they eventually worked together to raise money on Kickstarter to make this film.
The women featured range from 60 years up all the way up to 95. They have seen it all and done it all. They have been through wars, trends, history, movements, deaths, loves and yet one thing is common amongst them all: they are happy. It is a kind of happiness that only age can afford, one that isn’t dependent upon circumstance or an industry.
These women wear the bright, colorful, often weird clothing they do because they radiate happiness from within. They all have had interesting careers ranging from professional dancers, to magazine editors, and they love their fashion.
Throughout the film it is interesting to see photographer Ari go on a journey through the ages with each woman, delve into her life and find out what makes her tick. The revelations he has long the way echo somewhat of an awakening, one we wish the rest of the fashion industry would have.
He is passionate about his subjects and society’s treatment of older people. He has previously spoken at conferences on abuse of the elderly, attending with one of his subjects. “I think that people neglect, forget, or ignore older people and don’t realize their worth. They don’t realize that they still want to be heard and that they still have a lot to offer,” he told the Business of Fashion.
After Ari decided to turn his blog into a book, life changed dramatically for some of these women. Some were asked to model fpr high fashion campaigns for Lanvin, and one of the women was featured on a massive billboard for a new Kmart campaign. Basically it took a guy taking notice of a handful of fabulously dressed older women, and documenting them on his personal blog for brands to realize they need to have a variety of women in their advertising.
Another common thread slowly woven throughout the film is that Ari notices how the elderly seem to fade into the background of society and are no longer seen as anything worthy. But these women have a fierce zest for life, spurred on by the fact that they are in the latter years of their existence and don’t have time to waste being self-concsious or worried about what others may think about them.
One of the women, Ilona Royce Smithkin (above), even says to the camera she doesn’t buy green bananas anymore as she doesn’t know if she will be around for them to ripen. But in terms of living life ripe with experience, enthusiasm and love, she has covered all bases and doesn’t live with regrets.
We recently shared how 67 year old designer Diane Von Furstenberg writes in her new book that ageing actually made her feel more beautiful, that age allowed her to shed the pressures, insecurities and boundaries that confined her as a woman in her youth. And perhaps there is much more that we can learn from the women of ‘Advanced Style’ also, not just about fashion, but about life.
Lynn Dell Cohen (below), 81 told the Huffington Post in an interview that fashion is about trying to be inclusive, where as style is accentuating one’s own uniqueness.
“You have to look at yourself in the mirror, accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. That’s really what it’s all about.”
An industry, a trend, a number or a movement should in no way be the determining factor of your worth or how you see yourself. We highly encourage you all to take a group of friends and see this film. If you are based outside the US, you can buy the movie online and watch it on-demand.