Early on in Lina Plioplyte and Ari Seth Cohen’s inspirational
Advanced Style, a question that was only hinted at in the thematically similar documentaries Hats Off and Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is finally addressed: Why is it that the most active, fashionable women who are long past retirement age all seem to live in New York? Because the tendency of New Yorkers to walk everywhere promotes longevity, we’re told, and the wide streets act as natural runways. It certainly works for the women profiled here, ages ranging from 67 to 95, who rose to prominence in street-style photographer Cohen’s blog and eventual book because they continued to dress exactly how they wanted to dress. They eschew the conventional wisdom that women should tone it down as they age, instead expressing gloriously idiosyncratic personal styles while never specifically trying to look young or trendy. It’s a new kind of queerness, exemplified by 67-year-old Debra, whose crayon-colored hair resulted in her boyfriend originally rejecting her for “looking like a clown” and not conforming to accepted notions of how older women should look. (Spoiler: He finally accepted her for who she is, not who he thought she should be.) Ultimately, Advanced Style presents these women not as objects of curiosity, but as what they truly are: role models.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 24, 2014