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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Advanced Style

A fresh and affectionate portrait of a bunch of New York ladies who refuse to be constrained by modern definitions of beauty.
By Danielle Todd
December 02, 2014
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Advanced Style

A fresh and affectionate portrait of a bunch of New York ladies who refuse to be constrained by modern definitions of beauty.
By Danielle Todd
December 02, 2014
  shares

Set against a backdrop of Western culture's increasing obsession with youth, Advanced Style is a charming documentary that explores the lives of stylish older women aged 62 to 95 who are challenging conventional ideas about beauty and age through extravagant style.

Inspired by street style photographer Ari Seth Cohen's blog of the same name, filmmaker Lina Plioplyte's directorial debut introduces the viewer to seven unique New Yorkers, as they speak candidly about their lives, their experience of growing older and their style philosophy.

One of the most captivating interviewees is Jacquie "Tajah" Murdock, who is possibly the most well known of the subjects as the star of a recent Lanvin ad campaign. She recalls that in her era people dressed to the nines to hit the town on Friday and Saturday nights even if they were domestic workers. Joyce Carpati, a longtime Hearst magazine staffer and classically trained singer says, "I never wanted to look young; I wanted to look great."

What makes Cohen's subjects so endearing is their wholehearted – and often outlandish - dedication to their eclectic personal style. Most of these women are not stupidly rich with an exclusive penchant for the best labels. Each is an incredibly theatric sartorialist in her own right, who is more concerned with the creative assembly of an outfit rather than the name on the tag inside. One woman even says it sometimes take her years to find the earrings or whatever other final piece is required to complete an outfit, and until then, the look is kept on hold.

While the film hits a roadblock in neglecting to explore these seven captivating women any deeper than their personas as extravagant fashionistas – any one subject could easily command a documentary all her own - it's a fresh and affectionate portrait of a style philosophy that refuses to be constrained by modern definitions of physical attractiveness.

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