There’s an adage that youth is wasted on the young. While New York street photographer Ari Seth Cohen doesn’t exactly admit to prescribing to this idea, his documentary, “Advanced Style,” lends to this philosophy.
“Advanced Style” started as a blog featuring photos by Cohen of older women, usually 60 and up, wearing bright patterns and thrift store finds unabashedly.
Cohen, along with director Lina Plioplyte are the two driving voices behind profiling the vitality of women from all walks of life. These women have desires, setbacks, and a hunger to claim their youth through fashion — all which are documented in this moving and often humorous film.
amNewYork spoke with Ari Seth Cohen about the film.
When did “Advanced Style” the blog explode for you?
I was working at the New Museum, and I got offered a photo installation at Selfridges in London. At that point I had to quit my job. Shortly after that, The New York Times wrote an article about the blog, and that’s when it started to take off.
What pulls you toward a specific person? An outfit? Swagger?
It’s all those things. It can be the way a woman is standing on a street corner, or a hairstyle, or an arm full of amazing accessories. Mainly it’s their spirit that comes across. A lot of the times I’ll be attracted to wildly eccentric women, because I feel like it’s the total opposite of what we see in media, which is this pervasive attitude that older women should fade away. I’m trying to beat people down with the opposite image.
Were you surprised by anything they had to say?
I’m always surprised by what’s going to come out of their mouths. I think they’re unafraid of upsetting anyone, impressing anyone and they say what they want to say. But that’s what’s refreshing about them.
The concept that fashion can be a healing agent was new to me. What did you learn about people’s relationships to fashion?
For them, they wouldn’t feel like themselves if they didn’t get dressed up in the morning. In a way, that is healing, and I totally agree with you, that it’s not something I would have associated.
If you go: ‘Advanced Style’ is at Quad Cinema at least through Thursday, 34 W. 13th St., 212-255-2243, quadcinema.com.