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“We could all learn a thing or two from Indian fashion”.

For us at Harmony-Celebrate Age, Ari Seth Cohen has always been a kindred soul. We’ve tracked this New York-based photographer’s work for close to a decade—beginning with his blog Advanced Style, where he started to chronicle stylish silvers in the Big Apple, a kind of homage if you will to his grandmother and best friend, Bluma.

Over the years, his oeuvre has expanded—encompassing a book, Advanced Style, in 2012, and a documentary two years later—in the process making a powerful statement against ageism. His new book, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, takes him across the globe, from New York to Edinburgh, Los Angeles to London, Cape Town to Tokyo, San Diego to Sydney, showcasing an array of silver men and women who inspire and enthral with their sartorial savoir-faire, their “refusal to become invisible”, as Cohen calls it. “I think there is a growing conversation about how age is shown in the media and that these images of senior style are changing the way the public views growing older,” he tells us in an exclusive interview.

From a blog to a documentary and books, Advanced Style has become something of a movement, inspiring countless people. Tell us a little about your journey and its genesis.

My grandmother Bluma was my best friend. I used to draw pictures of her and her friends and had such great admiration for their style, wit, creativity and wisdom. I never understood why the media portrayed ageing in such a negative, fear-based light. When I moved to New York City, I started to come across all these amazingly dressed, vibrant and energetic older men and women on the streets. I started to photograph and interview them for a personal project and a way to deal with the loss of my beloved grandmother. Eventually I started to share the images online on my blog. I never expected this to turn into a career or a movement that is changing the way ageing is shown in the media. I know that this project is a gift from my Grandma.

Today, more brands are including silvers in their campaigns…you even see silvers occasionally on the catwalk. Is this is a flash-in-the-pan phase, or a trend that is here to stay based on the increasing relevance of the senior market?

There has been a growing movement towards embracing older people in lifestyle and fashion media since 2008 when I first started Advanced Style. When my first book came out in 2012, fashion companies started asking if I would help cast the women I was photographing in campaigns and editorials. I never understood why brands were too afraid to show inspiring pictures of ageing. These are men and women we can aspire to be like; a teenage girl with too much Photoshop is not. I think there is a growing conversation about how age is shown in the media and that these images of senior style are changing the way the public views growing older. Fashion is constantly changing, but I don’t see any end to an increasing need to challenge ageist notions of beauty.

In the foreword to your latest book, columnist Simon Doonan says “dressing with vitality and creativity acts like a nifty antidepressant”. Please elaborate upon this, the fact that looking and feeling good can be empowering for the elderly.

One of the stars of the book, Debra Rapoport, always says, “Look good, feel good. Feel good, look good.” Dressing is an act of creativity and anything creative lifts the spirits.

Most silvers who are featured in your blog and books seem to have an in-your-face look that cocks a snook at age! How do you go about finding and choosing them?

I try and cover a diverse range of styles, but I am challenging the idea that one must fade and become invisible as they age.

In your view, how can one stay stylish as one ages without looking like a fashion victim?

It’s all about attitude. Wear what you like and wear it with ease.

For silvers, comfort becomes as important as style…how can one marry the two?

Exactly. Play with proportion, accessories, learn what works best for your body. I think by the time you reach a certain age you have learned a thing or two about how you want to present yourself to the world.

From what you have seen and observed, what are your recommendations for silvers when it comes to colours, shape, style and fit?

You have to wear what you like. There isn’t one solution other than not being afraid to play and experiment.

Also, how can one look fabulous on a budget?

Play in your closet, and wear and buy used clothing!

Do you feel ‘less is more’ is the way to go when it comes to accessorising? Or do you just say, ‘bring it on’!

It’s an individual choice. I love bold statements, but I also love classic elegance.

Are you familiar with Indian fashion and apparel? One sees a lot of Asian influences, motifs, fabrics in popular fashion, in music videos, and at music festivals? Do you see any of this incorporated in silver fashion as well?

So many of the women I meet are inspired by Indian fashion. I always love seeing photos of the colour, elegance, texture, and draping of Indian fabrics and clothing. We could all learn a thing or two from Indian fashion.

Also, do you find that women from more traditional societies like India are more conservative in their approach to fashion, even if they live in the US?

Not necessarily conservative, maybe more covered up, but extremely regal and beautiful.

Name a few silvers who, in your opinion, radiate style and self-possession, people whose image has only become stronger with age?

All the men and women in my new book, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser.

—Arati Rajan Menon


Advanced Style: Older and Wiser at

Photos: Ari Seth Cohen, from Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, published by powerHouse Books
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
June 2016