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“I wanted to continue the conversation about aging,” says blogger and documentarian Ari Seth Cohen, 34, whose wildly popular Advanced Style blog and book and documentary of the same name capture the street style of older women on the avenues of New York.
Like his subjects who seem to get better with age, so, too, does Cohen, as demonstrated by his new follow-up tome, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser (powerHouse Books, $35). “After the first book and film came out [in 2012 and 2014, respectively], this whole explosion happened in the media where there was a redefining of beauty in terms of how older people were represented in fashion and lifestyle,” he says. And it’s not hard to find evidence, from 80-year-old Joan Didion starring in Celine’s 2015 ads to 94-year-old Iris Apfel, who was most recently tapped as the face of Blue Illusion’s spring campaign.
With his latest book, Cohen casts a wider net for his well-dressed subjects, traveling around the world to shoot a fashion-forward cast of characters. He also broadened his focus to include men.
“Everywhere I go, I walk around the streets and there’s that one person or group of ladies who stand out for the spirit they are emanating,” says the photographer, who was particularly impressed by the senior women in Japan and their knack for mixing fashion trends, like a kimono paired with a fur stole. Each portrait is accompanied by a first-person essay.
In addition to discovering sartorially savvy seniors around the globe, Cohen also realized that, in most places, attitudes towards aging were similar, too. “It’s not what I expected,” he says. “There’s a huge problem of how we think about aging and how we treat older people. So many of them are forgotten and treated as invisible,” says Cohen, who partnered with Audicus for a limited-edition collection of bold patterned hearing aids in 2015.
His blog, which was started in 2008, grew out of his desire to create “a relatable and optimistic visual conversation in culture dealing with aging.”
And no matter what age you are, there’s plenty of wisdom to be gleaned from the book’s self-assured subjects.
“Life takes so many different turns and you have so many opportunities to recreate yourself if you have this determination and optimism and passion for life,” says Cohen, who picked up a few pointers, too. “I learned to be more confident in my choices — both stylistically and career-wise.”
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