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In 2008, Lithuanian filmmaker Lina Plioplyte became a huge fan of Advanced Style, the blog by Ari Seth Cohen that captures the chic and creative fashion of older women.
While Plioplyte was working at a New York coffee shop, she met Cohen and began to make short video clips of some women he featured on his blog. Those clips were so successful that the two decided to make a documentary, which is screening all over London now and will hit global film festivals this summer before opening in US theaters later this year.
In the documentary, Advanced Style (the same name as Cohen's successful blog), Plioplyte follows seven older New York women, capturing vibrant silk blouses, big jewelry, giant hats, and flamboyant makeup. Some of the film's stars include Joyce Carpati, an 80-year-old former Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping editor, and Ilona Royce Smithkin, a 93-year-old artist.
The documentary took three years and less than $50,000 to make after the funding came from a Kickstarter campaign back in 2012. Plioplyte told Racked that the beauty of older is women is one aspect that drew her to create the documentary.
"I always admired individuality and self-expression through clothing, and it seems to me that older women really know themselves and therefore develop a very unique sense of style," she said. "Seeing Advanced Style women I wondered, 'how come they kept dressing up throughout their lives, when so many people stop when they grow up'? I wanted to be like them, and to learn the reasons why one keeps dressing."
One important lesson the documentary aims to teach is that style doesn't necessarily have to fade with age, Plioplyte noted.
"It's a fact that the media is youth-obsessed and does not portray age or aging beauty in a nice light. I am seeing some changes recently (and Ari's blog is a huge part of the change!), and I'm hoping that the film will further the change even more. We need to stop being scared of getting older, and learn from these advanced women instead," Plioplyte said.
Photo from the Advanced Style documentary
Style aside, the film also delves into the challenges some older women face: financial troubles, family relationships, and coping with death.
"Through style we approach the aging process, and through these individual lives show that life doesn't get easier, but you don't have to succumb to it. They all have pains and aches, and there's drama and tragedy, but it's how these women handle life that's so inspiring to me," she said. "They not only dress well—they get up, they pep talk themselves, they push themselves to lead the best lives they can, they never stop exploring new things, they keep wondering, and they do it with the smile. And we are talking about 94 year old! It's the attitude towards their lives that shines through their styles. Age is but a number."
Plioplyte hopes the film will inspire people to think differently about beauty; she said many women have already approached her and Cohen, saying they will head straight home and play with their closets.
· Advanced Style Film [Official Site]
· Advanced Style Blog [Official Site]
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