Advanced Style : Age and Beauty

The Fashion Blog’s Doyennes Give a Lesson in Sartorial Splendor

We’re having a senior moment: From textile mogul Iris Apfel in her trademark owl spectacles to artist Ilona Royce Smithkin in DIY orange eyelashes, the stars of photographer Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style blog represent the most fashionable older ladies and gentlemen of New York and beyond. Today on NOWNESS we feature Cohen’s iconic style mavens in an exclusive short by filmmaker Lina Plioplyte. “Hearing them speak about clothing is so fascinating,” says Cohen, who launched his site in 2008 and also has a documentary in the works. “There is history and memories in what they are wearing and I think it’s important to show that storytelling aspect, as well as their vitality and creativity.” Cohen spoke to NOWNESS about silver-haired confidence.

Did anyone help to inspire the direction of Advanced Style? 
When I first moved to New York [from Seattle] I attended a screening for the documentary Hats Off about Mimi Weddell, who in her 60s became an actress and model for the likes of Louis Vuitton and Burberry. I photographed her, and her attitude and approach to style was a big influence on me and the start of the blog.

Why do you think so many younger people read your blog?
Walking around New York taking photographs, I noticed how many young girls are appropriating style from older women: leopard print, fur, turbans and hats. In general, the older women wear these things naturally, with more confidence. With the blog I not only want to show that older women are vital and creative, but also to show people [they need not be] afraid of aging—and personal style is a great way to showcase this.

What catches your eye on the street?
I am always on the lookout for silver hair! What is important to me is self-expression and what might inspire others. I want the portrait to be respectful—that is the most important thing. An outfit might be eccentric but it has to be put together well, with care, because I don’t want to reinforce any stereotypes about older people.

Who would you most like the chance to photograph for Advanced Style?
Richard Avedon’s 60s muse China Machado; Jane Schmitt, who featured recently in the Lanvin X H&M campaign; and Yoko Ono—to name just a few.

Advanced Style: Age and Beautyfrom Ari Cohen on Nowness.com.