Since the launch of his Advanced Style blog back in 2008, Ari Seth Cohen has been pioneering the celebration and acceptance of older men and women in fashion. Since then, we've seen a 60-year-old score a swimsuit modeling gig, a 65-year-old land a J.Crew ad, and older ladies break into the blogging big leagues. However, that doesn't mean there isn't more work to be done when it comes to shedding the industry's bias that favors younger women.
To take an in-depth look at senior style, we caught up with Cohen himself, whose upcoming second book, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, is set to be released April 26. Read on for our full interview with Cohen, as well as two exclusive images from the new tome, which he describes as "an optimistic and joyful picture of aging."
Scroll down for our full interview with author Ari Seth Cohen and see exclusive images from his upcoming book, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser!
WHO WHAT WEAR: Why did you decide to publish this second book? What do you hope to accomplish with it?
ARI SETH COHEN: Advanced Style: Older and Wiser is a collection of photos and essays that I have been working on for the last four years. After the publication of my first book [in 2012] and the documentary [in 2014], I noticed a shift in the way that media was portraying aging. All of the sudden, older women were being recognized for their creativity, their vitality, and wisdom, and the dialogue about aging changed from something very fear-based to something aspirational. I hope that this new book continues to show an optimistic and joyful picture of aging.
WWW: When you're out shooting on the street, what draws you to a person? What personality qualities or style attributes do you look for?
ASC: There is a certain spirit and energy that emanates from my subjects. More than fashion, it's about how they carry themselves, a vibrant display of vitality, and an artful and creative expression of a lives well-lived.
WWW: What are some of your favorite insights on fashion you received from the subjects of the new book?
ASC: As 97-year-old yoga master and teacher Tao Portion-Lynch told me, "People say that I am old, but I think of the trees and how they are hundred of years old. They recycle themselves each winter. I recycle myself like the trees every winter to get ready for the spring so that I can dance my way through life." Optimism is one of the keys to a long and vital life.
WWW: What do you think is the main difference between older people's view on style compared to younger people?
ASC: In general, the Advanced Style set cares less about trends and trying to impress others with what they are wearing. They are dressing to please themselves and have years of experience, accessories, and plenty of attitude to back up their sartorial choices.
WWW: The Economist recently published an article about how the over-60 set is so important to fashion because there are 164 million of them (and counting) and they have so much spending power, but retailers still aren't trying to appeal to this market. What are your thoughts on this?
ASC: I have always thought that it was totally ridiculous that the fashion industry seems to treat seniors as if they were invisible. I remember seeing the Rolex ads starring Carmen Dell'Orefice as a little kid and thinking that this was style. To me, this was a way more believable and aspirational mode of storytelling than seeing some teenage girl styled in luxury clothing and accessories.
Since 2008 when I started Advanced Style, I have noticed a lot more inclusion of older men and women on the runways and in fashion campaigns. These ads have been incredibly successful and have contributed to a more positive conversation and picture of aging. I think we have to realize that just because we grow older, that doesn't mean we lose our sense of style and desire to express ourselves. By solely concentrating on the young, the fashion industry is totally missing the mark.
WWW: Do you have a particularly funny memory from shooting this book?
ASC: Meeting Carol Channing was a dream come true! Each moment on the street can be funny. Sometimes I feel like a old-lady stalker chasing down 90-year-old women walking in the high heels down Madison Avenue.