Old Is The New Black: Meet The Man Giving Ageism A Kick In The Ass

Photographer Ari Seth Cohen tells GLAM4GOOD he has always been inspired by older people and as a young boy dreamed that one day he would be the entertainment director for a nursing home. As he got older he wondered why positive images of seniors were so absent from popular culture.  So Cohen set out on a mission to change that. And he has.

“All of the sudden everything became about youth and anti-aging. Fashion and lifestyle media treated older people as if they were invisible.”

When Cohen was a boy his grandmother was his best friend and biggest inspiration.

“When other kids were playing basketball outdoors Bluma and I would watch old movies, play dress up with my grandfather’s old clothes, and make collages. I made my first book of ‘fancy lady’ drawings at 8 years-old based on my grandmother and her friends.”

When his grandmother passed away in 2008 Cohen moved to New York because his beloved Bluma had always told him as a young boy to move to NYC if he wanted to do something creative.

“My profound sense of loss led me on a journey to discover the city through her eyes. Almost instantly I started to notice an incredibly vibrant and vital population of older people on the streets of New York. I started to photograph and interview them for a personal project and a way to connect to Bluma again.”

After a few weeks in New York, Cohen realized that the people he was meeting had the power to shift ideas about growing older.  So in 2008 Cohen launched his blog Advanced Style followed up by a book in 2012, a documentary in 2014 and just launched his new book Advanced Style: Older and Wiser. Advanced Style has become a full-time job for Cohen who does his own casting and creating of his films, books, campaigns and editorials with the men and women he meets on the streets of cities all over the world.

GLAM4GOOD has been a long time fan of Ari Seth Cohen, his game-changing work, and the inspiring women he spotlights. “Old is the new black” is something Ari Seth Cohen and his muses put on the map. He is disrupting the fashion and beauty industries by breaking down the walls of ageism and shattering stereotypes. GLAM4GOOD recently sat down with Cohen for an inspiring chat!

What is the mission of Advanced Style is. Why is this platform meaningful to many of your fans?

The mission is to present an image of aging that has been absent from popular culture. I want people to see the freedom, joy, wisdom and creative expression that accompany aging rather than focusing entirely on the decline that we are so used to seeing in the media.

How do you define Advance Style. Do you call it a blog?

It’s really turned into a global conversation on aging. The fashion world has all of the sudden started to embrace older women in campaigns and on the runway. The ladies I photograph are challenging popular notions of growing older on their popular Instagram accounts (@stylecrone, @saramaijewels, @beatrixost, @valerievonsobel) and I get emails from young women almost daily telling me that they are no longer afraid of getting older.

Tell us what motivates you to grow this platform?

I feel like this project was passed onto me from my grandmother when I was a little boy. I hope I can bring a bit of visibility to older people and help to fight ageism through empowering examples of growing older with great style and spirit.

How did your mother and grandmother Bluma inspire you to create Advanced Style?

Both my mother and grandmother would take me on shopping adventures to thrift stores, vintage stores, and antique shows. We would spend hours looking for treasures and playing with clothing and accessories. I was encouraged at a very young to express my creativity.

How do you find the subjects you spotlight on Advanced Style?

Mostly by walking around, but sometimes through Instagram, Facebook, and email.

We love your new book! Tell us about it:

Advanced Style: Older and Wiser is full of international street style shots of some of the world’s most fashionable and vibrant men and women aged 60-104. There are also 22 personal essays on aging, vitality, and style from the subjects of the book.

Who are the inspiring people featured in the book?

Men and women from all over the world including Carol Channing, 97-year-old yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch, 96-year old artists and cabaret performer Ilona Royce SmithKinand dozens of others.

GLAM4GOOD would love know a story about how Advanced Style has made a difference in someone’s life.

The other day a woman emailed to tell me that she had just turned 60-years-old and she lost 50 pounds and started doing pilates after seeing a post I did on 103-year-old Ruth Kobin practicing pilates.

What is next for Advanced Style?

I’m working on a series of videos about love and aging with Lina Plioplyte. Illustrator, Adele Mildred and I are also working on a children’s book related to Advanced Style.
GLAM4GOOD is a huge fan of Ari Seth Cohen’s incredible pictures and mission.  You can get a copy if his new book Advanced Style: Older And Wiser here.

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