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By Ari Seth Cohen

Style photographer Ari Seth Cohen has been documenting strikingly fashionable seniors on his blog for the past few years. Now he's put together some of his best images in a handsome collection, "Advanced Style."On TODAY Tuesday, Cohen and a few of his spirited subjects shared their thoughts on fashion and aging:

Fashion icon Iris Apfel, 91, describes her style as "geriatric starlet." She says she doesn't put a lot of effort into her fashionable daily looks. "I don't really think about it. I just feel it... When you dress up, you feel happy."

Artist and cabaret performer Ilona Smithkin, 92, is known for fashioning her very own homemade eyelashes from her fiery red hair. Smithkin calls her daily looks "creative dressing".

Here's an excerpt from "Advanced Style." 

Ever since I can remember, I have been captivated by amazing older women. My grandma, Bluma, was my best friend. We would spend hours in each other’s company, watching classic films, taking trips to the library, and drawing cartoons. My tastes were largely shaped through excavations of her dresser drawers filled with dazzling vintage jewels and old photographs. I was struck by images of the elegant and glamorous past — a time when men and women wore hats and gloves and dressed up because it was the thing to do.

My other grandmother, Nana Helen, embodied this manner of graceful dressing. She had an impeccable fashion sense and the confidence to match. One of my first art projects as a child was making drawings of well-dressed grande dames; I filled more than one sketchbook with these colorful ladies.

When I moved to New York as an adult, inspired by Grandma Bluma’s promise that “everything creative is happening there,” I saw my drawings come to life on the streets of this marvelous city. I found ladies and gentleman who still wear hats and gloves and who express a sense of style all their own.

I was inspired to start a blog that would capture images of an oft-overlooked yet strikingly fashionable segment of society — one that would pay homage to my grandmothers’ style and spirit.

I have never considered “old” a bad word. To be old is to be experienced, wise, and advanced. The ladies I photograph challenge stereotypical views on age and aging. They are youthful in mind and spirit and express themselves through personal style and individual creativity.

The soul of Advanced Style is not bound to age, or even to style, but rather to the celebration of life. The fashion these women display is merely a reflection of the care and thought they put into every aspect of their lives. These photos offer proof that the secret to remaining vital in our later years is to never stop being curious, never stop creating, and never stop having fun.

From Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen, published by powerHouse Books.


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