Advanced Style hits the silver screen! Meet the ageless stars of this blog-turned-documentary

Advanced Style Documentary
Photography by David Pike
Advanced Style Documentary
Photography by David Pike

Meet the Advanced Style ladies »

Over the past few years, photographer Ari Seth Cohen has introduced us to the world’s finest dressers through his blog Advanced Style. The blog, focusing on stylish 50+ women, has become a treasure trove for those who think outside the box, breathing some much-needed fresh air into the often ageist fashion industry. It’s safe to say the blog’s been a hit, resulting in a hardcover, a colouring book, modeling campaigns for its subjects and now a full-length documentary. On Tuesday night, Advanced Style had its world premiere in Toronto as part of the Hoc Docs film festival and technical difficulties aside; it was a sight to behold. Following Cohen and his cohort of vibrant subjects, director Lina Plioplyte delves deep into the philosophy behind over-the-top dressing at any age.

A few hours before its debut, we sat down with four of the film’s fabulous subjects—Lynn Dell Cohen (a.k.a. “The Countess of Glamour”), Tziporah Salamon, Deborah Rappaport and Joyce Carpati—and learned a great deal about confidence, thrifting and talking over each other.

What do you think the success of the blog says about how age is viewed in fashion?

Joyce Carpati: “I think right now it’s becoming a very important point to older woman and her fashion. Young people look to us too. They look to see what I’m wearing. In fact I appeared with a young woman who was about 24 and I had to dress her with what I was wearing. I just got a note from the editor she said ‘this is the best photo I’ve ever seen.’ It was an older woman dressing a younger woman with what I wear.”

Lynn Dell Cohen: “I think it’s more about personal style than fashion per se. I think most of us have had our wardrobes for years. We’re not looking for brands or to shop, but we’re just trying to self-express and be who we are to the world.”

With the explosion of street style people started dressing for the camera, whereas this has always been apart of your lives. Do you notice that people dress to be shot?

Ari Seth Cohen: “Being a street style photographer, that’s a big difference that I see. The men and women I photograph really do it for themselves and they have been doing it for so many years. We go to fashion shows sometimes but they dress this way every single day of their lives. I’ll go to Deborah’s house and she’ll even have great pajamas when she ironing or whatever it is, they are always dressed. Sometimes you see fashion people all dressed up at the shows but then in their daily lives they are not as dressed up. This is a lifestyle.”

Lina Plioplyte: “This is the best distinction between style and fashion. Everyone dresses in trends. Right now it’s that fancy high-fashion sneakers and all about florals, whereas these ladies have their distinctive styles and they don’t care what’s in fashion right now.”

Tziporah Salamon: “Bill Cunningham has always photographed me and it’s interesting with Bill because he too zeros in on people with style.

How does money factor into your shopping habits?

Deborah Rappaport: “Thrifting is the fun exciting stuff because you never know what you’ve going to find. I give myself a budget of $5 because there is nothing I need, that’s the challenge. When I talk to young people about that who are having trouble with their economics it’s like, ‘why do you always have to go to the mainstream stores and buy the same jeans for $200, and the same dumb T-shirt when you can go to a thrift shop and find something totally unique that speaks to you.”

Did you ever dumpster dive?

Rappaport: “Not per se, I’ll go to the laundry room in my building and see what’s down there.”

What was the best find?

Carpati: “Many years ago I bought a Hermes cashmere cape with leather fringes. It’s huge and I can’t wait to get back to Paris because I have it there in a closet very safely guarded and I’m going to bring it back to New York. It’s absolutely glorious, I have no idea what that would cost today.”

How has your personal style changed as you’ve accumulated more objects?

Dell Cohen: “For me it’s just gotten stronger, in other words it’s even more out -of-the-box now. I really don’t need more clothes. I have everything. I tell people, I tell costumers, buy a new hat, buy a new scarf, the basic thing is the canvas, and then just decorate the canvas.”

Salamon: “Lynn runs a boutique on the upper west side, called Off Broadway and she also has a vintage section.”

“For me what I like is that my taste has evolved but it’s also basically the same. I love acquiring new pieces – which I don’t so much anymore cause I have so much – it has to be really exceptional. I love combining like, ‘oh my god, that, on top of that, which I’ve had from 30 years ago, on top of what my mother made me 60 years ago.”

Dell Cohen: “And she does it wonderfully, she really does. Somebody who owns a shop really can appreciate, very few people that I feel have such wonderful style. She really has wonderful style.”

Salamon: “It was easy for me because when I grew up my parents both sewed, that’s what they did for a living. My father was a tailor and my mother was a dressmaker so they sewed for me since day one, they took my measurements – I was sleeping, they were measuring. My dad made me into a little boy my mom made me into a little girl so I was comfortable, and to this day that is exactly what I do. I have a lot of clothes made, I continue that legacy. I think that is another important thing, I think we all come to it our own individuality.”

You guys obviously really like each other.

Dell Cohen: :Oh very much. Deborah you shrugged your shoulders”

Rappaport: “I wouldn’t have you all for tea parties if I didn’t love you all”

Carpati: “I met [Cohen] on the street. He wanted to photograph me. I saw this handsome young man walking up to me and he said, ‘can I photograph you?’ I said, ‘listen, I’m no cougar, ‘ and he said ‘no, no, no!’ I wanted to hear what he’d say, so I said, ‘well maybe I am a cougar.”

Cohen: “That’s a whole other book”

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