I'm really excited about the Advanced Style book that just came out last week. I love that women in their 70s and (way) older are being taken seriously as fashion innovators. The book and coming film aren't not kitsch or condescending, it's an actual celebration of personal style (and of the persons behind the style). These women look avant garde, they look completely modern. It's not pearls and wool pencil skirts or houndstooth collarless fitted jackets, necessarily. It's got major elements of DIY--the film trailer features a woman who fashions her own false eyelashes, another who does her own sewing despite arthritis.
Granny fashion has been having a moment since about the mid nineties. Enid Coleslaw's 'old lady fashion', the endless moment of the granny boot, cat's eye glasses, pencil skirts, fall capes, ladylike heels, depression era dresses, grey and mauve hair from last season--many times these things signify counterculture awareness, a nod to pin-up style, rockabilly, Harold and Maude, Little Edie from Grey Gardens....on and on it goes. The look is impeccable, meticulous and hip at the same time. The difference is that 'Advanced Style' as introduced to us by Ari Seth Cohen and his model muses is actually worn by the elderly.
Why is it so wonderful to see? Why do I feel happy and even reassured by the denizens of advanced style? I think it's because it's about hope, beauty and aesthetics, three things there are way too little of. I stopped reading fashion blogsfor a while because it felt like an DIY alternative to mainstream fashion publications--but the exclusivity is still palpable in lots of popular blogs. You get the sense that everyone got the same notes for the each season--everyone in fishtail braids, or straw boaters, or the same muted greys, muted peach, the same soft focus pictures of skinny unsmiling young white girls.
Things like Advanced Style, fatshion blogs, Tavi Gevinson's blog--are the antidote to all that. There is a core element of true expression there--of using clothes to say something about yourself or your obsessions. These are places where aesthetics are valued as ethics, and the ethics are punk rock, DIY, a celebration of one's self.
And that is where Advanced Style will step in and blow ya mind--these women are not up for the competition. They are dressing for themselves, they are proud of looking so bangin'--and they are (possibly older than) your grandparents! I like that many of the women featured on the site are totally iconoclastic, the 'rule book' doesn't apply to them because the rule book the rest of us are being sold ages you out after about age 35! Like other fashion rebels (fatshion bloggers for example), they have liberated themselves from the tyranny of commercial fashion.
They've also honed their style over many years, it's unlikely that any of these women are new to fashion and style aspirations. What makes them so remarkable is they dare to express the narcissism of the truly stylish--you have to really like yourself to go to this much effort, don't you? In the end I think advanced style is so awesome for the simple reason that these women do not seem to give a fuck. Existing in a blissful world free from the oppressive male gaze (I'm being a little tongue in cheek here), they are free to create a sartorial language and expression that is totally unique to them. This type of expressive fashion requires commitment, time, an eye for detail. In a time where juicy couture sweats and flip flops are considered appropriate clothes for public view, it's totally refreshing to see people put the effort in. And to put the effort in for the love of fashion, the love of clothes, the need to create a unique self expression, to stand out. It cheers me, it truly does.
Do you think fashion blogs have been co-opted? What's your favourite source of insane eye-style-candy?