Roberta Haze, 78
Joy Venturini Bianchi, 77
In his wonderful introduction Ari Seth Cohen’s new book, Advanced Style: Older & Wiser, a sequel to the original 2012 photo book and 2014 documentary, Simon Doonan names the photographer “the pied piper of glamorous oldsters.” Indeed, Cohen has spent the last eight years luring fabulous fashionable seniors out of the shadows and into the limelight.
With his appropriately named dog Fancy Schmancy in toe, the photographer has endeared himself wholeheartedly to a community of men and women over the age of sixty who have developed a taste for the festive, the unusual, and the extraordinary. This second book reacquaints us with some familiar faces, who report that their lives have been forever altered since the first publication, and introduces us to a new cast of characters, discovered on the streets of New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Cape Town, London, Florence, Stockholm, and more.
A number of the women, and one man, featured in Advanced Style: Older & Wiser pen essays for the volume. The write about clothing and panache, but they also confide in us so many unspoken thoughts on what it means to grow older. As society pushes them out, marginalizes them, and attempts to make them feel less-than, these are the people who’ve done away with the anti-aging potions and somber dress codes.
These men and women have led remarkable lives— they’ve marched with Ghandi, fled war-torn nations, burned their bras—and now, at long last, they have found a new kind of freedom. For Cohen’s subjects, our twilight years provide rare opportunity in which the rules can be thrown out the window.
They have no one to please but themselves and passersby, and without the self-consciousness of their youth, they can invest entirely in every day. Some read Shakespeare and Nabokov and quote lyrics from Dylan Thomas. Others go to Burning Man. Many have sex, and a few say “fuck.”
Doonan’s epithet for Cohen— that mythical “pied piper”— seems apt because his heroes and heroines relish life much as children do, but this time around, they carry with them the knowledge, love, and wisdom of decades. It was the photographer’s Grandma Bluma who first inspired the photographer when he himself was a boy, watching her get dressed up, and through these subjects, her legacy lives on.
Colleen Heidemann, 67
Linda Rodin, 67
Lana Turner, 65
Valerie Von Sobel, 74
Sarah-Jane Adams, 60
Photographs by Ari Seth Cohen, from Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, published by powerHouse Books.