From 90-year-old textile designer Iris Apfel in her trademark thick-framed oversized glasses to 91-year-old cabaret performer Ilona Royce Smithkin with her statement hand-crafted orange eyelashes, Ari Seth Cohen shines the light on the most unlikely of street style protagonists in his cult blog Advanced Style, featured on the AnOther Reader. In a world obsessed by youth culture Cohen provides a breath of fresh air from the run-of-the-mill street style blogs: choosing to only feature women and men over the age of 60.
Celebrating the confidence, fashion and beauty that only comes with experience Advanced Style has gained global recognition and to mark this month’s launch of his eponymously titled book, AnOther speaks to Cohen who proves that we really can learn from our elders...
When and why did you first start Advanced Style?
I started Advanced Style in August 2008. I had always been close to older people and noticed a lack of inspiring images of the aging in media, fashion, and advertising. I wanted people to see positive examples of growing old and to bring more visibility to the amazing older people I was coming across everyday.
Where do you go to seek out your street style images?
I am based in New York and I walk throughout the entire city looking for Advanced Style. The Upper West and East Sides are always great for scouting.
"My favorite style icons are the ones who are not afraid to be different"
Do you follow any specific criteria?
First of all they have to be at least 60, but I tend to photograph ladies and gentleman over 75. I look for personal style, wonderful accessories, great spirit, something that catches my eye, or that I feel will inspire others to feel good about getting older.
Who are your favourite style icons and why?
My style is icon Is Wanny Di Filippo owner of Il Bisonte leather goods. He dresses in what makes him happy. Wanny always looks very elegant while mixing colors and unexpected prints. My favorite style icons are the ones who are not afraid to be different.
How would you define “style”?
Style is different for each person. It is a reflection of how we feel and how we want to portray ourselves to the world.
What age do you reach your optimal level of style and glamour?
It depends on each person. I think that the women I feature become more comfortable with themselves as they get older. They know what they like and what looks good and is right for their bodies.
What are the best words of (style) wisdom that have been passed onto you by your subjects?
To dress for yourself, not for others.
What can us younger generations learn from advanced generations?
To embrace life and live it to the fullest. I have learned that it is very important to stay active and keep your mind interested in the world.
You are releasing your Advanced Style book next week, what other sideline projects has your street style blog expanded into?
I am also working on Advanced Style documentary with filmmaker Lina Pliopyte. We are set to finish filming by the end of Summer.
Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen, with a foreword by Maira Kalman and interview by Dita Von Teese, is published by powerHouse Books and released May 22.
Text by Lucia Davies