TODAY   |  October 18, 2012

91-year-old fashionista: I’m a ‘geriatric starlet’

Photographer Ari Seth Cohen spends his days photographing women in their 70s, 80s, and 90s – women who pride themselves on looking fabulous and aging gracefully. Cohen and three of his models talk about why they love to dress up and his new photography book, “Advanced Style.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> when we think of fashion models , young women in their teens and 20s probably come to mind. but one photographer is hoping to change that. he spends his day photographing women in their 70s, 80s and yes, beyond, who pride themselves in looking fabulous every day. it's all part of a book called "advanced style," and ari is here along with ira, elona , and the spring chicken of the group, 79-year-old lindell . good morning. great to see you. how did this start? you were 31 years old, how did you decide to make a name for yourself photographing senior style icons? shall we say it that way?

>> yeah, of course. i started four years ago, but i grew up being very close to my grandmother. so i've always had an appreciation for older people. and when i moved to new york , i saw all these amazing women dressed up living their lives to the fullest. and i wanted to put a focus on older women .

>> so you just walked down the street and you have your camera with you and you approach these women ? is that how it works?

>> well, i knew about iris before, but elona and lindell , i met them on the street.

>> did it take convincing to have your photos taken? or yes right off the bat.

>> yes, right off the bat.

>> you like this concept?

>> i think it 's wonderful he's doing this for us. not only for us, but for all those poor ladies out there who think that after a certain age they have to roll up and die or look like they're wearing widows weeds.

>> 91, fashion icon , you shot to superstardom back in 2005 when the metropolitan museum of arts showcased your wardrobe in a major exhibition. how do you describe your style?

>> i'm a geriatric starlet.

>> a geriatric starlet. do you put a lot of effort into this every single day?

>> no, no, no -- it all comes from here. i don't think about it, i just feel it. and as the spirit moves me, i dress. i walk around in jeans most of the time. but when i dress up, i like to dress up.

>> take it a little bit further. you're 92, right?

>> yep.

>> your an artist based in new york and you've become famous for your hand-made eyelashes.

>> that's one of the things.

>> how do you describe your style?

>> natural. when i see the weather's cold, i take a sweater, but whatever i do, i collect colors and i thread colors around it that match. i call it creative dressing.

>> what keeps you going, elona at this age in so many different directions. i think you're a cabaret performer, as well, aren't you?

>> that's true. i tell little stories, you know, and i do little bit of, you know, a little --

>> a little kick, a little song and dance .

>> when i get up in the morning, i feel, i move my hips, i say, oh, i'm alive.

>> you're ready to go.

>> i'm ready to go.

>> it's a positive attitude. lindell , you're the youngster of this group, 79 years old. you own a boutique here in new york for the last 50 years. i like your signature line. i dress for the theater of my life every day.

>> that's right.

>> that's nice.

>> tell me about that style.

>> because i feel that living my life and dressing up is so wonderful, i'm so lucky that i'm in a business that i can dress up. i'm not a little secretary where i can't do it, i don't work in a law office . i can do anything i want. and it 's wonderful to be around all these women who i can help dress and let them do their thing.

>> a little personal experience i want to relate here. iris, i ran into you on the street one day, we passed each other. and what happened with me, and i wonder if you get this all the time. you make people smile.

>> yes, exactly.

>> i think that's very important. life is very gray, and i think when you dress up you feel happy.

>> that's how i noticed them. they made me happy and showing their photos makes women who tend to feel invisible after a certain age makes them happy and shows them they can dress up and feel good.

>> iris' rule, by the way, if your hair is done proper willly and you're wearing good shoes, you can get away with anything. you live by that.

>> i try.

>> i want people to learn you don't have to give up, live your life to the fullest. i think there's so much focus on youth and look at these women in their 80s and 90s, it shows you there's hope out there.

>> yeah. for the people who say the fashion industry is only for the young --

>> that's the problem, that's why the fashion business is not doing well. because they completely neglect our age. i'm 90, so i don't expect designers to go into that, but there's a huge market of people over 60 who can't find proper clothes to wear because they're bombarded, the designers, i know lots of them and they tell them youth, youth, youth.

>> there are very few stores that carry things for women who have style. and who are women .

>> just as you do for people on the street, ladies and ari, you're making me smile.

>> thank you.

>> thank you very much.

>> ari, congratulations, your book is called "advanced style."