A touch of sass
Directed by Lina Plioplyte Club, Light House, Dublin, 65 min Chunky jewellery and turbans ahoy. Since 2008, Ari Seth Cohen has been photographing fabulously dressed women in their 70s, 80s and 90s on the streets of New York. In that time, Advanced Style, Cohen’s blog devoted “to capturing the sartorial savvy of the senior set” has spawned a book and something of a movement. Many of the women featured have become minor celebrities, with talk show appearances, modelling gigs and good seats at fashion week.
Seven of Cohen’s best-known subjects are profiled in Lina Plioplyte’s lovely, uplifting documentary. Jackie Murdoch, 81, can remember dancing at the Apollo Theatre as an Ickette. Lynn Dell Cohen, 80, runs a gloriously gaudy boutique on the Upper West Side. Ilona Royce Smithkin, 93, still performs from behind the trademark red eyelashes she fashions herself. Zelda Kaplan, 95, makes her own suits and hats from tribal prints. Joyce Carpati, 80, worked at Cosmopolitan back in the day. Debra Rapoport, 66, is a thrift store magpie. Tziporah Salamon, 62, is fab with fabrics.
It’s lovely to spend time with this group. And there are lots of positive voices reminding the viewer that style shouldn’t be the preserve of 14-year-olds on a catwalk. Like Cohen, Ms Plioplyte is respectful of her subjects. Maybe too much so. Any hints on inter-group rivalry are quickly sorted and never mentioned again. It fits with the doc’s overwhelming upbeat tone. But it makes for very little drama or substance.
Advanced Style feels overstretched at 65 minutes, a scandalously brief running time for any feature, even this real life fairytale. No matter: the same punters who kept returning to see Bill Cunningham New York will find much to savour.
This is how it’s done