Ari Seth Cohen started his blog, Advanced Style, to photograph and celebrate the older women of New York City and the unique style that they embody. After the success of his blog and book of the same name, Cohen turned to Kickstarter to fund a documentary about the women he has met on his photographic journey, and the lessons they have learned throughout their lives.
Advanced Style is a documentary that celebrates women. Although many of us have been told that we are too old for things, the seven women at the heart of Advanced Style refuse to accept this, and refuse to be defined by their age. As Cohen talks with the women – all between the ages of 60 and 100 years old – they reveal their personal style, their inspirations and why they dress the way that they do.
Much more than a fashion documentary, Advanced Style is an examination of age, women, eccentricities and the things that life throws at us. Each of the women is vibrant and stylish in their own way, and happily talk about the fashion items that they love, and how they came to find their own personal style.
That said, however, while the women are vibrant, funny and endearing, at 62 minutes, even this short film feels a little stretched out. We are shown how, from being involved with Cohen’s project that these women have gained fame and recognition, but once these lessons have been imparted, the fashion seen and the women engaged with, it seems as though the film loses track of what it is trying to say. At this point, the women are almost shown as curiosities as they journey to LA for an appearance on the Ricki Lake Show.
There is little doubt that there is strength to be taken from these women’s stories, and Cohen’s reasons for creating Advanced Style are numerous and admirable, once the stories have been told, the film runs out of steam and flounders in search of a direction. That said, Advanced Style is a joyous celebration of incredible women who have led amazing lives, and there is plenty of wisdom to be taken from their stories.