Movie Review: Advanced Style

by Emily Rems

It’s often said that, “age is nothing but a number.” But in the inspiring fashion documentary Advanced Style, the golden years are elevated to such enviable heights, younger viewers may actually walk away biting the styles of the seniors in their midst. Based on photographer Ari Seth Cohen’s popular blog and book of the same name, and directed by Lina Plioplyte, the film is a vibrant celebration of elderly New York women and the wardrobes they’ve been carefully curating for decades.

Throughout the film, audiences are introduced to a gallery of grande dames aged 62 to 95 who all turn heads by following their muse wherever it takes them. Textile designer Debra Rapoport, 69, wows with handmade accessories that blur the lines between clothing and fine art. Painter Ilona Royce Smithkin, 91, wins over everyone she meets with a coquettish bat of her extravagant red eyelashes, created from her own hair. Harlem dance legend Jacquie Tajah Murdock, 84, is just as stunning today as she was when she first took the stage at the Apollo in the 1940s. Cosmopolitan magazine veteran Joyce Carpati, 82, is a vision of timeless elegance. Boutique owner Lynn Dell, 81, has a personality as sparkling as her bedazzled outfits. Stylist Tziporah Salamon, 64, builds looks the way museums build exhibitions. And the late Zelda Kaplan, filmed at age 95, reminds us why the New York nightlife scene will never be the same without her African-print-clad presence on the dance floor.

 

Even more striking than the clothes, however, are the women who inhabit them. At turns bold, brash, vulnerable, and heartbreakingly honest, these veterans of the concrete jungle trust and confide in the camera in ways that few interview subjects are brave enough to attempt. They are unapologetically and fully themselves. Which, in the end, is the most advanced style secret of all.

 

Advanced Style opens in theaters Friday September 26, and will be available on VOD and DVD October 7. 

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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