[REVIEW] Advanced Style

By Cecilia Allen

Dismiss any conventional ideas you have about beauty, style, fashion and aging in Advanced Style. Director Lina Plioplyte and street photographer Ari Seth Cohen’s warm-hearted documentary showcases an array of New York women who express themselves through their proud and unique individualistic styles. Ranging in age from 60 through to 90 and from majestic to harlequin like flamboyance, these ladies illustrate the benefits of aging without abandoning their unique style or fundamental approach to aging.

Western culture’s increasing obsession with youth and beauty is large on scale. Cohen poses the question “Why do we only look towards young people as our fashion and beauty icons? Why not older women?”

Based on his own Grandmothers unique style and vibrant approach to aging, Cohen set out to prove to the world that aging can be anything but daunting. “These women really challenge our notion of getting older, they really embrace their age, feel good about themselves; and every time they leave the house, they look and feel their best,” he says.

The old saying age before beauty implies one is exclusive of the other, but the woman photographed and written about by Cohen in his famed blog Advanced Style and consecutive book of the same name dismiss the conventional ideas about beauty and ageing and show us, that with age comes grace and confidence.

The film delves into the lives of seven New York women, these women are not the rich upper class women with wardrobes full of designer labels that you would expect – apart from one woman who promises her granddaughter she will inherit a collection of Chanel handbags – instead these are women from across different lines of wealth and ethnicity. One of the glamorous ladies says it might take years to fully complete one outfit, from finding the right set of earrings to a hat that matches.

The women, of whom the film focuses, speak openly about their lives, their experience of aging and their style. Some of the women have partners or families but a number of them are single and openly admit that finding love or having children was not a priority. One of the interviewees, Tziporah Salamon, quite simply says “My hats and bags are my children.”

Among the most captivating interviewees is Jacquie “Tajah” Murdock, who started out at 17 as one of the original Apollo Theater dancers in Harlem and at 82 landed an ad campaign for Lanvin. She recalls that in her era people dressed to the nines to hit the town on Friday and Saturday nights even if they were domestic workers.

The documentary is sweet and funny with just an occasional hint of melancholy. The pace of the film seems too quick for any of the subjects to leave a strong impression and also raises some questions which could have been explored further. Among the films strengths is its democratic embrace of woman from different backgrounds and the message it sends to its audience. The women in this film prove style is ageless and with age come grace.

3 out of 5 stars.

Talented Threads

Words by Sameera Afzaal from DYNAMIQUE BLOG

A simple train ride is enough to accentuate the spectrum of fashion and the impact of the industry. Commuting to and from university excites me because in one journey I spot garments from every era of fashion worn in different ways; from vintage to current runway daywear. Intrigued by this observation, I went on a journey to scope out the talent of exuberant fashion creators at Murdoch. Like every tertiary campus, Murdoch University is a melting pot of weird dressers (let it be known that I say this in very positive light). We are all in a way a part of this mega tribe of fashion, whether we like to admit it or not. It doesn’t matter if we scope out an intense color coded wardrobe every day or resort to a good old jumper with some nice kicks. What matters is the culture that is being created; popular culture, street style, modest street style, sport luxe, the list goes on my friends.

Style and culture were the core things that led me to meet two incredible people with amazing upcoming brands. Introducing Kenza Threads and Ebony by Roe.

What is your brand?

Kenza Threads: Kenza threads. Kenza comes from an Arabic word, ‘Kenz’, meaning treasure. So we seek quality and unique pieces for our customers.

Ebony by Roe: Our brand is called EBR or Ebony by Ro. It’s based in Zambia and we incorporate African/Zambian materials and modern designs to come up with fashionable pieces.

What inspired you to begin this?

Kenza Threads: On a chilly morning, two ladies coming up with ways of styling scarves over the   kitchen counter. Furthermore as a hijabi and a fashion/colour loving person, I’m always on a lookout for colorful shawls to add to my collection in Perth. However, the pieces never seemed to match my taste in shawls. Thus after surveying around, my business partner and I decided to take a step further and get this business going!

Ebony by Roe: We thought it would be good to have pieces that have an African/Zambian flavour that you can wear every day. We also have the option to create custom-made pieces because we know that sometimes you may be looking for something different or that’s made for you specifically.

Sameera Afzaal modelling Kenza Threads. Photo by Joey Heng

Sameera Afzaal modelling Kenza Threads. Photo by Joey Heng

What is one thing you love about fashion?

Kenza Threads: I love how fashion allows me to express myself in very unique ways. It is flexible and allows the world to take a peek into my likings! For example, my shawls can turn into a sleeveless top or a turban! It all depends on how creative and bold you would like to be!

Ebony by Roe: I can’t think of one thing so I’ll say a few things. Firstly, I love that fashion is timeless and ‘comes back’. I look at some of the photos of our mother when she was younger and I wear some of the same styles today! Secondly, I love how fashion is universal and different influences from different places all come together to create a certain piece. And also that fashion is an identifier, you can say a lot about yourself (where you are from, your interests etc.) by what you wear.

If you had to describe one item from your collection; what would it be and why?

Kenza Threads: I would choose Ethnic Fusion from the Jungle Frenzy collection. This print is a fusion of ethnic prints at its borders with leopard prints in centre. I love how two different prints can be combined to create something unique and allow the user to play around with the material to showcase their favorite prints out of the two!

Ebony by Roe: I think the one piece I would describe is my favourite custom made piece so far, a white black and green t-shirt dress with a hut print. I won’t bore you with the whole story but when I went out to pick out the material, I remember seeing it and having no idea what it would become once sewn but I loved the print. When I told my sister the idea she thought it would be too plain but when it was done, the print and colours were striking enough for it to be interesting but ‘plain’ enough for it to be dressed up or down easily. The beauty of EBR pieces is that they are striking on their own because of the print and designs, but they can be transformed so easily.

Where can we find you?

Kenza Threads: http://www.kenzathreads.com/
Ebony by Roe: ebonybyro@gmail.com

Ebony by Roe

Ebony by Roe

[REVIEW] Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent, an international brand that became famous from humble yet not so humble beginnings. This luxury fashion house is among some of the most famous labels to date; Chanel, Christian Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton. The brand is now at the heart of fashion, embraced by editors, bloggers and society at large. Today many endure to be part of the beauty that was the oeuvre of the late designer Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent.

Yves Saint Laurent was and still is referred to as “The Prince of Fashion” and a “fashion prodigy,” He was a soul that knew about “beauty.” Beauty that amazes, beauty that is worn, beauty that hypnotizes the masses, and beauty that becomes a multi-million dollar brand. This movie is an exploration into a time when recognition of such beauty not only came with inevitable criticism but also a psychological battle on personal circumstances. It is a buoyant vision trying to understand where the humble beginnings of this fashion house came from and a treat when the secret to the success is subtly revealed. It is only a glimpse but worthwhile, for 110 minutes you will be lost in a world of French where comprehension will come from a mutual love.

3.5 Stars

Words by Sameera Afzaal