Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Encore! IFs in Marie Claire, Italian Edition

OMG, BFFs! We got an email last week from Carol Markel, of Femme et Fleur fame, alerting us that Advanced Style (the book) had an eight page spread in the Italian edition of Marie Claire! Ever chic Carol leads the way, with the whole opening page of the article (see below, in which Carol wears the marvelous Louise Brooks helmet she designed and made herself [and which we were later lucky to get our own versions of from Carol], and the left side of the page (with husband Richard Cramer, not to be outdone, in green and pink), and another appearance on the table of contents page (not shown).

Marie Claire has gone all out, for which we want to give them thanks and recognition. There are some twenty photos, in which each of the Advanced Style ladies is named, and briefly profiled. (They named our blog, for which they get a big gold star - una grande stella d'oro!)

In the past, we've had to run the articles through Google Translate, and have come up with some interesting results. This time, we ran it through Google Translate, and then ran it through Valerie to polish up. (Italy was Valerie's first true love before she recklessly abandoned it and ran off to Japan.) So this one will actually make sense! Below is the text of the article, interspersed between the photos. Double click on the photos for a better view.


If the truth is not welcome, may it at least arrive well dressed. That is: old age is not a walk in the park, so you might as well turn it into a nice walk in the main street of existence. Thus think the ladies that Ari Seth Cohen has been photographing since September 2008 for his blog Advanced Style (, who have now been brought together in a book published by powerHouse. They do not fall victim to the myth of youth at any cost, but neither are they disposed to mannered or melancholic dressing: the little sweater or the little suit, the pearls, the broth-colored stockings, the shawl. They serenely admit to the many decades that led them to where they are - the pedestal of slightly crazy wisdom (inducing in Ari a form of unbounded admiration and maybe even a little emulation). They bring to the daily party of life not only a celebration of the fact that they are still here, but that they have been freed from the rules: of good taste, of dressing as befits a certain age. And, despite the rainbow hair, insect glasses, exotic turbans, the peacock colors, the matador capes or jackets in shades of LSD, they are never ridiculous, but simply, in their own way, elegant, original, unique.

So, they verge on becoming the IT ladies who can transform an industry of appearances "that so far has shown no positive images of older people. I was influenced by my grandmother, Bluma, whose wisdom and humor taught me that aging can be creative, witty and inspiring. Marc Jacobs said he had studied the pictures of the blog as a suggestion for his last show. I do not understand why the fashion houses use only young models when there is such beauty and experience in the face of an adult..." sighs Ari. Which is the lesson imparted by pictures: an other beauty is possible. Especially when the fashion industry is so unaccustomed to having anything to do with the passage of time, perceiving it as an exotic phenomenon, so brand new. "These women teach us to live to the maximum. But they make us rethink the antiquated idea we may have about the future. Historically, there have never been so many seniors on earth, and in good health. It is no longer possible to ignore this reality", continues Ari.

Why did it occur to a 29-year old to explore the world of the gray panthers? "It happened when I met Mimi Weddell: I started the blog, she was 94 years and was still modeling, in a career that she embarked on at 65. She passed away three years ago, but her spirit lives on in my work: always chic, elegant, a woman to whom it would never occur to leave the house without a hat, 'the most romantic thing in life', she said."

Insolent question: To be picky, many ladies immortalized by Ari on the streets of the great capitals of the world are still beautiful because they have been marvelous all their lives, like Gitte Lee, wife of Christopher, whose portrait is on the cover of the book. Gitte was one of the supermodels of the ‘50s and ‘60s. So, if at twenty-six one is not terribly attractive, at the age of retirement will one be a monster? "No. Many women I interviewed feel they have become – and they have become – more attractive with time. They know more about their bodies and what suits them in terms of clothing, hairstyles, accessories and jewelry."

Smiling, fun-loving, optimistic. And the fear of the end, where is it? "In the documentary I'm doing, which has the same name as the blog and the book, Ruth Kobin, sophisticated centenarian, responds to this question: "I celebrate each new day without knowing what the date is. And who is looking at the calendar, anyway?"

What will they wear on the day of their funeral? Has anyone told you? "No, but I'm sure they have already thought about it, and it will be more dazzling than ever. Another lady who’s 100 years old or more assures me that she even wears lipstick when she goes by the geriatrician." So where they are going, these muses over sixty, looking so elegant? To a meeting with destiny, to an assignation, or to the supermarket? "They get dressed up to stay at home, to get the mail, to go to the movies or to a restaurant. Lynn Dell, the "Countess of Glamour", who not only hosts the tv show Positively Lynn, but is the owner of one of the best known vintage boutiques in New York, Off Broadway, insists: "Dress for the theater of your life. It is part of a ceremony that’s both public and private, and the way we relate to the world."

A world that has as its scope a wealthy western society, but...

"Big mistake. None of them connects style with money. Many shop their closets or their husband’s closet; others go to second hand shops..." There is no doubt that Cohen’s is a genuine enthusiasm for women and men. (Yes, there are men too: "A man I greatly admire is Wanny Di Filippo, owner of the trademark Il Bisonte"), to whom it is his intention to give 'dignity and visibility'.

This true love is reciprocated, but not without a bit of gentle ribbing*. At his book launch, with all the women in full regalia, Ari wore a candy pink suit. Some of the women told him that he might be a little fleshy for that color. "Ah, there were some cutting remarks!" (Editor’s note: they had a point....). Proof that even he sometimes does not listen to the wise counsel of his old friends and / or elderly friends: "Pursue your elegance, never the approbation of others", "suggests one of the most sympatica of his subjects, 99 year old Rose. Ari, sincere: "age" is still a taboo word!? "For many people, yes. We concentrate on trying to look younger or reach impossible standards of beauty.”

There is still a long battle ahead. But there is time, and who is looking at the calendar, anyway?

*  The original Italian is 'smagato sarcasmo'. The Google Translate version was 'smagato sarcasm', so you can see they still have a bit of a way to go...

IFs (Inquiring Fashionistas) want to know: Hey, what do you think the chances are that Anna Piaggi has a copy of this month's Italian edition of Marie Claire???

(The IFs would like to apologize for the illegibility of the original article.  The typeface is really crisp outside this program!)


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed the article - well-written, complementary without fawning. I love the first line "If truth is not welcome, may it at least arrive well-dressed". I liked that they asked about whether the fear of death is addressed. I'm curious to see if that will be discussed in the film.

  2. Congratulations on the photo of you two in the spread. Loved the article and a very good translation, not that I read Italian, nope nothin' but English here. The author did a great job of presenting the ladies as alive and vibrant with lots of advice and thought for the young whom will one day reach the pentacle of their lives.

  3. Continue to 'live to the maximum.' For all the world to see!