First the blog, then the book, now the movie. Advanced Style: the documentary is coming to cinemas soon – and last night I saw a preview. The film is joyous and fun, a true celebration of life and style. And I fell a little bit in love with the film’s Advanced Style starlets. Even the one with the crazy eyelashes. The documentary starts with Ari Seth Cohen on the New York streets photographing his subjects, and moves onto the daily lives and adventures of seven of his regular Advanced Stylistas. Women aged between 62 and 95-years-old, who see dressing up as an art form – like Tziporah Salomon who ‘takes it to the nth degree’ and explains how once it took her over seven years to find the right pair of earrings to complete an outfit. Now, there’s dedication for you.
There are guest appearances from Iris Apfel who talks about the media’s obsession with youth and the pressure this places on older women, and creative director of Barney’s Simon Doonan who nails it when he says, ‘The whole idea of shifting the view towards older women is quite anarchic. If you’re looking for punk rock, look at Advanced Style.’
Funded by Kickstarter, the film was made over four years by a very small team for under $50K. I know that Ari Seth Cohen and Sue Bourne the director of Fabulous Fashionistas were in talks but the Advanced Style project was well under way by that point, and a collaboration wasn’t to be. And anyway, now we have two fabulous documentaries about age and style. To me, the Advanced Style film is more about a real phenomenon. A movement. Ari’s street style snaps and coterie of flamboyant friends have started a style revolution. Providing inspiration for women of all ages, all over the world.
Film maker Lina Pliopyte, follows the women through their daily lives
and various opportunities that being an Advanced Stylista brings, including a
trip to Hollywood to guest star on The Ricki Lake Show. On all of these occasions the women are chaperoned by Ari
Seth Cohen who makes sure that they are treated properly and fairly. And that they behave themselves – at one point there’s a minor spat over who really is the face of Lanvin.
But it’s not all froufrou. I started to feel slightly anxious towards the end of the film when death and decrepitude creep
in – 95-year-old Zelda Kaplan dies after collapsing on the front row of a
fashion show at the Lincoln Centre. There’s a trip to Provincetown, where artist and eyelash-maker Ilona Royce Smithkin is looking after a lifelong friend with Alzheimer’s. Then Iris Apfel says, ‘Everything I have two of, one of them hurts.’ Reminding us that death, as they say, is a part of life.
These women are confident, intelligent and creative and they care about
how they look. They celebrate life with equal measures of energy and
eye-popping accessories. The Advanced Stylistas may have a punk rock attitude but they know that the show must go on, and so the film ends on an all-singing-all-dancing high note. As Ari points out, ‘I knew that these were incredible people and I had to share them with the world.’ We should all be incredibly grateful that he did.
The premiere is at 6.20pm on May 6 at the Curzon Mayfair – which is one of my favourite cinemas – some of the stars of the film will be there and I can’t wait to see it again. Tickets are available HERE.