“Advance Style” began as a photo-heavy blog of the same name, compiled by New Yorker Ari Cohen, who is fascinated by the panache and flamboyance of women who are both “advanced” in years, and “advanced” in stylistic sensibility. This project has become a book, and now a movie, which celebrates these women and their approach to life.
The ladies presented run a gamut of style choices: retired editor and singer Joyce Carpati favors a style that is very much grande dame; style maven Zelda Kaplan had clothes custom-made out of her collection of fabric art; artist Ilona Smithkin creates many of her own pieces, including inch-long eyelashes to match her neon hair. Of course, there’s a lot of fabulous vintage wear on display—whole shops full of it, in the case of store owner Lynn Dell, but none of the ladies affect any strict period; they all mix and match as they choose to assemble a look that is unique to each.
Ranging in age from 62 to 95, the thing they all seem to have in common is great attitude: seize the day, before it gets away. You can’t say whether having a great sense of style keeps one young, or having youthful energy inspires style, although I think it’s some of both. The ladies (mostly) stand straight, are (mostly) bright of eye, sharp of mind, and, being New Yorkers, stride confidently around the city on their own, stalking the elusive just-right accessory.
In the movie, besides showing off their collections, the women talk about their lives, their pasts, and their choices, with candor and humor. This movie was inspiring, uplifting, frequently very funny, and sometimes sad. Above all, you are left with the impression that these are all great ladies you would like to know.
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