“People always ask me, ‘How old are you?’ and I usually tell them I’m between 50 and death.” – Lona Smithkin
Lina Plioplyte’s charming documentary Advanced Style shows an array of older New York City women who have turned fashion into an art form. Although the documentary could have had the same impact if it was 10 minutes long instead of 72, the different stories and one-liners from an eclectic mix of women makes for an easy, enjoyable watch.
The film is based on Ari Seth Cohen’s fashion blog Advanced Style filled with photographs of stylish women he has encountered on the streets of New York. Dating back to 2008, the blog contains images of women wear clothing ranging from elegant simplicity to boutique costumes seven years in the making. No matter what type of clothing these women choose to wear, a common theme resonates throughout – they feel beautiful, defying the definition of “beauty” by today’s standards. One woman, Joyce Carpati, 82, said, “I never wanted to look young – I wanted to look great!” That statement is reiterated in different ways throughout the remainder of the documentary. Although the unique clothing is the main focus of the film, the most engaging part of the hearing the insight and humor from these inspiring women. So much of today’s American culture is saturated with youthful images of girls with flawless bodies. The refreshing aspect of Advanced Style is seeing the beauty in someone older than a 20-something pop starlet. The years have added wisdom to these women’s lives and hearing their individual outlooks on beauty was above and beyond more interesting than their clothing.
Because of the repetition, however, it would have made for a better TV special than a full-length film. Although it is charming and fun, the story by Plioplyte and Cohen is too limited keep the audience engaged for 72 minutes. Nonetheless, even if the repetition slows the film down, the documentary sustains its visual appeal and has just enough humor to leave you smiling throughout.
Review © Brigid K. Presecky (11/04/14)
Top Photo: Advanced Style published by powerHouse books
Bottom Photo: Lona Smithkin, Joyce Carpati and Lynn Dell
Photo Credits: Ari Seth Cohen
Technically, yes. Although most of the women are individually talking to the camera about their life experience, there are scenes with multiple women talking to each other, laughing, and enjoying life – and fashion, of course.