I just watched what, in my humble opinion, is likely one of the best documentaries available on Netflix. Its title is “Advanced Style,” and it’s something I feel compelled to share with every woman I know.
“Advanced Style” opens on a gentleman with a camera, seeking out well-dressed older women on the streets of New York and telling them, “You look so elegant.” It’s part of what has become his life’s work: To “show people that aging can be a wonderful thing; that you can dress up and feel good no matter what age you are.”
It started as a blog, and eventually grew into the “Advanced Style” book: A collection of Cohen’s photography with stories on the women whose pictures he captured, to whom he refers as the “Advanced Style ladies.” Cohen has spoken to his relationship with his grandmothers, and their role as inspirational figures for his work. The project, he says, began as a way “to reconnect with [his] grandmother.”
The women featured in this film certainly accomplish that much. Many viewers, like myself, may no longer have grandmothers who are alive. I miss my Grandma and YaYa (Greek for “grandmother”) every day and, especially after watching “Advanced Style”, wish I hadn’t been too ignorant to seek their advice when they were alive. The film’s ladies seem to step into the role of grandmother for all those who are watching them, imparting wisdom that comes as naturally as their unique, respective senses of style.
Watch the documentary. And until you’re back in front of your Smart TV, here are eight brilliant quotes from the “Advanced Style” ladies to get you through the day.
1. “The average woman is so beaten down and indoctrinated, and besieged. Everywhere she looks, there are pictures of sweet young things, 12-and-a=half, wearing these gorgeous clothes and all this makeup. Now, how can you possibly look like that?” – Iris Apfel, 93
2. “I am a number, but it’s okay. The number’s fine.” – Lynn Dell Cohen, 79
3. “I never wanted to look young. I wanted to look great.” – Joyce Carpati, 80
4. “Fashion is one thing. Fashion is about trends. It’s about, ‘What’s the latest thing?’ And then, everybody looks the same. I don’t find it very challenging to go to the store and just buy what’s the latest trend.” – Debra Rapoport, 67
5. “At one time, I had no self-confidence, and I didn’t think I could do anything. But seeing so much art around and seeing what I can do and what I’ve learned, and represent, I am an artist … and a teacher.” – Ilona Royce Smithkin, 93
6. “You know what I’ve learned from Ilona? It’s just the experience. Of course, we hope it will happen, but even if it doesn’t happen, something happened.” – Ari Seth Cohen
7. “But what a fabulous way to die! Doing exactly what she loved to do, which is being out in public, be where it’s happening … looking great, and being part of the world, and being part of life.” – Tziporah Salamon, 62, on the death of Zelda Kaplan, 95
8. “When one becomes older, one has learned to accept oneself. One is not so self-critical. … I was never too critical for myself, because I felt, ‘Well, this is what I am. There’s nothing I can do about it!'” – Zelda Kaplan, 95
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