Advanced Style: Fashions Fade, Style is Eternal
In the end, it is about the person and how and why they are choosing to dress up, so I look for people with something to say and share with the world.
Ari Seth Cohen is a photographer and blogger – and the creator of Advanced Style. His goal is simple: "I roam the streets of New York looking for the most stylish and creative older folks. Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest. Advanced Style offers proof from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age." Or as The New York Times' T Magazine puts it: Advanced Style is a Sartorialist for the superannuated set.
It's also a brilliant and timeless anthology of amazing personal stories that should not be missed. Ari has an Advanced Style book on the way, which features the best of the blog plus more stories and advice from his most graceful subjects. And he's one of Jane Pratt's picks for the SAY 100 Style channel.
We had a chance to ask Ari about his craft, what he's learned - and how he approaches these elegant older men and women of style to be part of his project.
You started Advanced as a way to feel connected to New York City – has it worked? Totally. As a kid my grandma and I would watch old movies together and I was always fascinated by how glamorous and culturally rich New York was presented. The people I meet have lived in New York forever. I am inspired by their stories and the wisdom they have to share. I started Advanced Style to bring a focus on older people and show that we are never too old be active and creative, to dress up, and ultimately to have fun and enjoy life.
Besides New York, where else do you love to photograph - and why those cities? There are amazing older people in every city. I would love to travel though the South looking for Advanced Style.
What do you look for in your subjects? When I am scouting I look for things that catch my eye, like bold accessories, a great hair-do, hats, gloves, or a great pair of glasses. I like to photograph people who have a sense of personal style and am always attracted to extremes, whether it be extreme elegance or eccentricity. Really, in the end, it is about the person and how and why they are choosing to dress up, so I look for people with something to say and share with the world.
What are some favorite chestnuts you've learned from the people you photograph? Well I've learned that you are never too old to do Pilates. My 100 year old friend Ruth goes to Pilates class once a week. Her advice on how to live a long healthy live is to "Celebrate everyday and don't look at the calendar."
Where do you find most of your best subjects? And how do you approach them to take their picture? I like to walk the whole city, but definitely travel around the Upper East and West sides very often. When I see someone I'd like to photograph I always start with a compliment. I tell them what I noticed or appreciated about them and then I explain my project. I want to only photograph people who feel comfortable with what I am doing.
What are some of your most popular posts of all-time? People love a recent post about an 85 year old woman who was attacked by a lion in Kenya and lived to live a wonderfully adventurous life. They also seem to love the videos or posts where the women give life and style tips. Everyone responds to something different.
Are there any other style blogs you read and admire? I love when older ladies blog, like the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas and obviously I am a huge fan of Tavi's. I like when blogs have a unique perspective.
What would your readers be surprised to learn about you? That I have younger friends too! Well I actually do spend a lot of time with the Advanced Style ladies. Some of my friends get jealous.
Tattoos – none of your subjects seems to have them. Any thoughts about that? Oh man, I saw an amazing older lady with tattoos in Stockholm, but I lost her in a crowd. I am definitely all about personal expression.
You've got a film about your work coming, and a book due in April. What's next? Yes, the book is out in April and we are still working on our Advanced Style documentary. I have to plan some great parties for the book, I have a show in Switzerland and always have new ladies to find.