There are two reasons I started blogging, in 2008. The first was that not long after I’d left a job as fashion editor on a glossy magazine, the internet became A Thing. When most of my freelance work shifted online, I realised there was an opportunity to create an independent space where I could talk about style, midlife and stuff. The second, and possibly the most significant, was the launch of photographer Ari Seth Cohen’s fabulous Advanced Style blog. ‘I’d never really seen ageing portrayed in a way that inspired me, so I started doing it myself,’ says Ari of his street-style shots of flamboyant women aged 60 and beyond: fashion freedom fighters like Iris Apfel, artist Beatrix Ost and beauty entrepreneur and stylist Linda Rodin, women who were styling it out on the streets of New York, not sitting at home in elasticated waist slacks and slippers.
Eight years down the line, the Advanced Style phenomenon has gone global. The proliferation of older-style blogs has resulted in the increased visibility of mature women online and in print. Advanced Style became a book that sold over 100,000 copies and was followed by a film; Ari’s second book Advanced Style: Older & Wiser has just been published. ‘It’s really incredible to see that the fashion industry is paying attention to ageing,’ he tells me when I interview him for the FT.
One of the more recent Advanced Style superstars, jewellery designer Sarah Jane Adams, picks the phone up when I call Ari in LA. Sarah Jane is in America for the Older & Wiser book launch, so I ask her thoughts on the Advanced Style phenomenon, ‘I believe Ari is the person who started this change in perception of older people,” she says. ‘He is the revolutionary leading the way in a movement that is giving a voice and visibility back to elders.’
Adam’s life was thrown into orbit after an appearance on the Advanced Style site. ‘Through a set of amazing circumstances, Ari featured me on his blog, Adidas then reposted it and things started to go a little crazy!’ Grey Model Agency signed Adams and a burgeoning career followed, including a recent appearance on the cover of WWD. With over 56,000 followers on Instagram (@saramaijewels) and the popular hashtag #mywrinklesaremystripes, the designer is now exerting her own influence online. ‘I have always used my clothes as a form of communication,” she adds. “My protection, armour, camouflage, a daily reflection of my mood. I dress for myself rather than to impress. My followers repeatedly tell me that I inspire them to live a fuller, more courageous life.’
Has the Advanced Style phenomenon had an impact on Ari himself, does the 34-year-old feel older and wiser? ‘It’s impossible not to gain insight from all the incredible women I’ve met. Seeing how they put things together – the colours and textures – really sharpens your eye.’
Read the full feature HERE.