Advanced Style is an affirming document of ageing – not gracefully, but stylishly. The film consists of a series of warm portraits of women in their 60s and over; women who embody their intelligence and artistry in their carefully-orchestrated appearance. As someone utterly ignorant of fashion, I admit to having some degree of trepidation. But as one of the ladies explains, fashion is about conformity – Advanced Style is about personal expression.
Director Lino Plioplyte’s unfussy approach, combined with the New York setting, recalls a much (much) slighter version of seminal drag documentary Paris is Burning, or a snapshot forty years into the future of the Broad City gals. The conventional approach – handheld photography, talking heads, etcetera – is the correct choice; a showier approach may have overshadowed the subjects’ style. She also does good work to remind us of the inevitable problems of ageing – illness and death – without lingering. But Plioplyte’s smartest decision is to largely sideline the central figure of the “Advanced Style movement,” blogger/author Ari Seth Cohen. Yes, he’s responsible for catapulting these women to global attention – and even modelling campaigns – but in a fairer world, women this talented and vibrant wouldn’t need a young(er) man to achieve deserved stardom.