Redefining Aging: Advanced Love and Style

Photo Source: Ari Seth Cohen / Advanced Love published by Abrams Books

Photographer and author Ari Seth Cohen is the creator of the Advanced Style blog (@advancedstyle on Instagram), a project devoted “to capturing the sartorial savvy of the senior set.” He says, “I feature people who live full creative lives. They live life to the fullest, age gracefully, and continue to grow and challenge themselves.” His work has been featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Vogue, and Forbes. Advanced Love is his newest work and includes 40 profiles of inspiring couples from around the world exploring themes of love, companionship, and relationship advice. He chatted with us about finding passion, lifelong friendship, and the surprising thing he learned about love through his work.

“They live life to the fullest, age gracefully, and continue to grow and challenge themselves.”

In 2015, the New York Times Fashion Director, Vanessa Friedman, credited Cohen with helping to create the recent movement towards the fashion industry embracing older models.

Blue Zones: How did you begin Advanced Style?

Ari Seth Cohen: I started Advanced Style ten years ago when I first moved to NYC. The project was inspired by my best friend, my grandmother Bluma, who always encouraged me to be creative and expressive. When she passed away I was filled with a deep sense of loss. She had always told me that I should move to NYC if I wanted to do something creative. As soon as I got to New York I started to notice the most incredibly dressed, vital and creative older people walking around. One day I borrowed my roommate’s camera and started to photograph and interview older people on the streets of New York. What started out as a passion project and a way to help deal with the loss of my grandmother has turned into a global movement bringing visibility to the creativity, vitality, and spirit of the Advanced Style set.

BZ: Your new book, Advanced Love, profiles 40 couples from around the world. What was the most inspiring thing you learned through your work?

ASC: I think most inspiring was to see how these couples have navigated decades of companionship with communication, patience, and empathy.

BZ: What do you believe is the secret to lifelong love, happiness, and style?

ASC: That there is no one secret. Long lasting love takes a lot of work. One thing that really stood out to me while interviewing the couples for this book was that Like is just as important as Love. Like and Respect for your partnership will outlast any youthful passion and lust.

“Like is just as important as Love. Like and Respect for your partnership will outlast any youthful passion and lust.”

BZ: With a decade of passionate and inspirational work under your belt, what is your advice to our readers for those looking to find purpose? Is photography/storytelling your “ikigai?”

ASC: My project came out of my love for my grandmother and what she inspired in me at an early age. If I look back, so much of what I do today was inspired by what she taught me. I would say to always remember the child you once were, to never stop playing, to look to not be afraid to do things that make you happy.

BZ: Where are you happiest?

ASC: With my doggy, friend and loved ones. Usually laughing and somewhere in nature.

BZ: What are you most proud of?

ASC: That I may have possibly made my grandmother proud.

BZ: What is your motto?

ASC: I don’t have a single motto, but I always try to encourage people to freely express themselves without fear or judgment.

BZ: What are the top style tips that you’ve gathered over the years?

ASC: Wear what makes you feel comfortable, don’t be afraid to try something new, and always remember to have fun.

BZ: What else can you tell us about Advanced Love? Was there anything that surprised you about love?

ASC: Throughout the last ten years, I have received so much wisdom and insight from the people I photograph. I wanted to do a project that would dive deeper into the lives, loves, and creativity of my subjects and share something that would inspire people to love a little bit more.

BZ: How do you stay connected with your interviewees? Have you built a community of friends (moai) through your work?

ASC: This project started out as a way for me to find something I had lost in my relationship with my grandmother. It’s been incredible to see how so many of the men and woman I photograph have connected and become friends through my book signing events and through social media. There are unofficial Advanced Style clubs all around the world! I am so incredibly grateful for all the wonderful friends and mentors I have met through this project.

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