Director: Lina Plioplyte
2014 • USA
“Aging can be a wonderful thing. You can dress up and look great no matter what age you are.”
In the beginning of Advanced Style, we meet photographer/blogger Ari Cohen as he stops strangers on the street, complimenting them on their clothes, and asking to photograph them. In Advanced Style, director Lina Plioplyte, along with Cohen create a documentary about fashion, but with a twist. What began four years ago as the blog “Advanced Style” became a life project for Cohen, who wanted to document and photograph the many fashionable women over 50 he encountered in New York. His blog garnered an incredible amount of media attention, leading to a book and other fashion campaigns for several of his subjects. Advanced Style profiles seven of these women, who take different approaches to aging, and prove that fashion and beauty are not just for the young and conventionally beautiful.
Though the seven women with ages ranging from 62 to 95 profiled have distinct personalities (all very vibrant) and different backgrounds, their common bond is fashion, and all consider themselves artists, with their outfits being their medium. Some are outrageous, with sky-high hats or colorful furs and a multitude of accessories, and others are more subtle and classic; Joyce Carpati was my favorite – an elegant, porcelain-skinned woman of 80 who drapes herself in beautiful, rich materials accentuated by various strings of pearls. (She is how you would imagine Holly Golightly in her classic black dress would appear in her later years.) They are also all leading really fabulous urban New York lives, most without the benefit of a lot of money.
There is not a lot of depth to Advanced Style, but I’m not sure depth was what was intended. It served as a showcase for some amazing women, all richly in tune with who they are and with more energy than a lot of people I know (including myself) who want to build a bridge to fashion for the next generation and show that there is an amazing life after 60, if you want it. Truthfully, I couldn’t remember anyone by name throughout the course of the film – there was very little background about each subject, if any – rather, I recognized them by their personal style, and I think that is exactly the point and what the ladies would prefer. As someone who is not just fashion-challenged, but really quite fashion-indifferent, it came as a surprise how much I appreciated their various clothes, but I think a lot of that was due to the women wearing them. Watching Advanced Style is a lot like flipping through a big, glossy fashion magazine – it’s gorgeous and flat, but it’s still fun to look at.