First, we had Scott Schuman and his collection of photographs, The Sartorialist. Then came the onslaught of fashion, DIY, and lifestyle blogs. We loved it. We still love it. Don't tell you don't check Refinery29 every morning (or that you're not following them on Facebook and Instagram), or that you don't secretly love Cupcakes and Cashmere, or WhoWhatWear, or Lauren Conrad's takeover of all things Pinterest worthy. Yet, those blogs cater to a particular crowd and a particular age group, and as we get older--and fingers crossed--we still stay as stylish as we currently are (or wish we were), we're going to start looking for an outlet that tells us what's in and what's out.
Who says you can't be sartorially cool when you're 60 plus?
Street photographer Ari Seth Cohen has just the answer with his blog, book, and now documentary, Advanced Style, that gives us glimpse into the lives of the gorgeous and elegant older women he spots on the sidewalks of New York City. With the help of first-time director Lina Plioplyte, Cohen's subjects take center stage showing us what we have to look forward in our golden years, as these women challenge our notion of what it means to get older, and how to do it with panache. And The Texas Theatre screens the flick at 8 p.m. Saturday.
While, the fashion industry is often criticized for its unrealistic portrayals of young women, the female form, and for leaving out a portion of the population who are the industry's biggest supporters, the over 60 crowd,Advanced Style
brings the focus back onto this untapped community. They have been shopping and paying attention longer than any tween, teen, or 20-something, and they know that fashion is actually something that you have to invent, rather than follow. Inspired by his grandmothers, Cohen grew up watching old movies, looking at his grandmothers' scrapbook, and becoming fascinated by the women used to dress in the 1930s-1950s. When he moved from San Diego to New York, he found himself surrounded by and inspired by the women those he had admired as child had become. Through his camera lens, he began capturing women, just like his grandmothers, who were living life to the fullest, and during it in style.
It's not just Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Rihanna, or Cara Delevingne (or even Kate Upton) who can rock the most couture of clothing lines. We do a disservice to ourselves if we only think that only the coolest of fashionistas can wear Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, or Commes des Garçons. That's a mistake. In fact, we do a further disservice to ourselves if we think that wearing designer labels is what gives us fashion street cred. Au contraire. It's a lesson that almost every blog is trying to teach us: style is about personality, not designer labels. And it's certainly not about looking like everyone else. I'm talking to every single one of you who purchased Birkenstocks this summer because it was the "hot" sandal. Some of us have been wearing them since 1998, she says pointing a finger at herself. Back then, you said I was uncool then, now what?.
Instead, the blog and the documentary point out that finding comfort in yourself and how you look will lead to a happier life, as some of the women are commonly quoted as saying, "I never wanted to look young, I wanted to look great," and "It's not about fashion but the attitude that style is healing."
The film centers on eight women, who range in age from their early 60s to their late 90s, and we get an insider view into their personalities, all of which are bursting with energy, and into their closets, which would make even Carrie Bradshaw swoon..."Hello, lover."
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We move from the Upper East Side where the blog found its initial inspiration into neighboring boroughs, showing that geography doesn't have to dictate one's process of self-discovery or self-expression. Inside these women's apartments and closets we get a peek at how fashion has bookmarked experiences in their lives and how much fashion reflects those experiences.
I think this is something we can all connect to, because we all have that dress that reminds of that first date, those pair of shoes that you bought with your first paycheck, that hat your boss gave when you started your new (big boy) job, or that purse that cost as much as your rent and that you only regret every so often (but it's so pretty). And through these profiles, we might even find that there is a message of warning for our future selves: we think that we are defined by the things that we "need" (or want), and that it's easy to dismiss the things that we think that we "don't need," but if we really take a close look at our habits, we might be able to turn our lives into something fabulous.
But still, this movie promises to have some serious fashion from anyone who loves that, and the Texas Theatre is going all out for this film with cocktails before the showing. So get there early and get ready to spend your evening with these women who are so full of sass, they'll have you wishing that you could be a cool as them when you grow up. I dream about being covered in feathers and fur when I'm older, with my neck and wrists weighted down by as many necklaces and bracelets that I can stack, and quite possible rocking some intense red hair (or pink). My 30th birthday is coming up, so maybe, just maybe, I'll grow up and make these fashion dreams come true.
Advanced Style at the Texas Theatre, Saturday, October 4, cocktails at 7:00 p.m., film at 8:00 p.m. 231 W. Jefferson Blvd, Dallas. Stay to dance deejay sets from Ariella Villa and Claudia Grassl. The film runs 72 minutes and is not rated.