In his street photography, Ari Seth Cohen challenges cultural norms that equate beauty with youth, so it’s no surprise that he cites his grandmother as the inspiration behind his work. When he was little, as he explained to Paper Magazine, he was best friends with his grandma and “always had a great affinity for older people…I wanted to run the talent show of an old folks home when I was a kid. My grandma had always told me to move to New York and when she passed away, I did.” Chasing glimpses of that special relationship he had shared with her, he started taking pictures of stylish elders he met on the city’s sidewalks and sharing the shots on his blog, Advanced Style, back in 2007. The passion project has since spawned a celebrated documentary, a bestselling book, and now a newly released sequel called Advanced Style: Older and Wiser.
The trend-defying tome is stocked to the spine with photographs of elderly style icons, hailing from cities that range from Los Angeles to London, from Edinburgh to Stockholm and more. Some of the subjects are familiar returns from the first volume, many of whom have found momentous success of their own, thanks to Cohen’s recognition–including campaigns with high-end fashion lines like Karen Walker and J.Crew. The book also includes 22 personal essays from a few of the fabulous faces, offering their time-tested wisdom on both style and lifestyle, often capturing the intersection between the two. A fierce panache for fashion and a daring approach to personal expression seem to coincide with a wholehearted, vibrant way of being, based on these gray-haired and glorious ladies and gents.
Cohen explains that 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.” Instead, they’ve simply chosen to be their brightest, boldest selves, shedding any youthful shreds of self-consciousness to please their truest tastes. The results are dazzling. Their outfits range from the playfully ostentatious to the overtly outrageous to the utmost in chic and sleek, all commanding attention and demanding delight from admirers young and old.
All images via Ari Seth Cohen.