By Bill Stamets/For Sun-Times Media
Live with verve — and look it. That’s the affirmative fashion statement in “Advanced Style.” Lina Plioplyte directs and shoots this slightly diverting documentary about seven women who tell us: We are old, we have style, and we look great.
Plioplyte’s co-writer is Ari Seth Cohen. He says his grandmothers were his “best friends.” Arriving in Brooklyn in 2008, he started Advanced Style, a blog “devoted to capturing the sartorial savvy of the senior set.” And that lead to a 2012 book of his street photos with that same title, which lead to the 2014 film. This is increasingly typical of the itinerary of “content” from the Internet to older media.
“You can dress up and feel good no matter what age you are” and “I really am an artist and my art is dressing” are points made repeatedly by the upbeat women Cohen flatters. A male Barneys ambassador overstates their style-centric comportment as “quite anarchic and provocative and very much against the prevailing fashion system.” He likens their allegedly transgressive taste to “punk.”
Aged 62 to 95, the women promenade on Manhattan sidewalks like walking collages. One favors eccentric make-up, eyelash extensions and circus hues for a peacock-effect. Plioplyte and Cohen follow their subjects to “The Ricki Lake Show.” Although the camera is not there when two women do fashion shoots for Lanvin and Walmart, the filmmakers show off both ad campaigns.
“Advanced Style” coincides with “On Beauty,” a new Kartemquin documentary that just screened at the Chicago International Film Festival. Fashion and celebrity photographer Rick Guidotti globe-trots to uplift youth with albinism and other anomalous looks that impair their self-images. Plioplyte shares this feel-good agenda. Her stars seek the attention of onlookers. I find their joie de vivre outlooks more notable than their haute outfits.
Bond/360 presents a documentary directed by Lina Plioplyte. Running time: 72 minutes. No MPAA rating. Opens Friday at the Gene Siskel Film Center.