There’s no denying that social media has helped the world become a whole lot smaller. You can reminisce with strangers, forge virtual, international friendships, connect with anyone no matter how seemingly unattainable or powerful or famous they are.
And so it was, that somehow, I made contact with the inspirational photographer, author and blogger Ari Seth Cohen, whose blog, Advanced Style documents the stylish outfits worn by women over 60, for whom the street is their catwalk.
I had occasionally tagged Ari on Instagram when I’d post pictures of my own eccentric parents Tutti and The Guru – the both of them as colourful and unique as psychedelic parrots, with loud, bright and kooky personalities to match. So when I heard Ari would be in Sydney at the end of a month-long tour promoting his Advanced Style Documentary (made with filmmaker Lina Plioplyte) we’d created enough of a cyber connection, thanks to our shared appreciation of advanced eccentricity, that I felt comfortable inviting him to stay in my very own family-madhouse – an offer I was delighted he accepted.
It’s a strange feeling meeting someone at the airport whom you’ve never met, yet feel as though you’ve known forever. It may have helped that Ari was wearing a navy blue fleecy that made him as soft to the touch as a fluffy koala, or that despite his jetlag it was obvious that he is a genuinely warm, funny, humble, open and lovely guy (with, let’s be honest, an adorable face to match). Either way, by the time Tutti and I got him to the car, he was well and truly part of the family.
It was a whirlwind two-and-a-half days into which we packed:
– Breakfast at Kepos Street Kitchen (some of the best food in Sydney in my opinion)
– A speedy tour of Paddington and Double Bay
– Friday night dinner at the Tutti-Guru Madhouse. There were eight people in total, food was abundant, laughter was raucous, conversation was in turn light and funny, and intense and profound. Somehow, we (by which I don’t mean me or my baby in utero) polished off a bottle of tequila and more than a couple bottles of wine. Ari held his own exceptionally well, even gently shellacking the Guru (for comparing his love for his wife, to his love for an ant) with absolute astute, articulate confidence – as if he was, indeed, a seasoned shellacker.
– Featherdale Wildlife Park (they may have an incredible array of Advanced Style ladies in New York – but they don’t have kangaroos)
– Lunch at the Bondi Icebergs overlooking the iconic beach
– A wander round Circular Quay to marvel at the harbour view and the Opera House
– Newtown, Enmore and vegan delights at Sadhana Kitchen
– Dinner at Yulli’s in Surry Hills (for some delectable vegetarian fare)
And of course, the opportunity for Ari to take shots of some truly stunning Advance Style ladies (including, of course, the inimitable Tutti).
It was absolutely lovely watching him take pictures of women on the street; seeing their faces glow with the pleasure of being recognised for their fashion choices. It’s wonderful what Ari does. It’s a smile-inducing advertisement for just how vibrant life can – and should – be, no matter your age; a life-affirming slice of glorious, fabulous, flamboyant humanity.
Sad but true: I could have shed a little tear when we dropped Ari off at the airport for his flight back to New York. He is such a lovely friend to have – and it doesn’t happen often that you miss someone after only two days of knowing them. But life goes on, I’m back at my desk, and Ari is once again on the streets of New York, making stylish women of a certain age feel a million bucks.
If you want your own piece of fashion inspiration, do yourself a favour and buy a copy of Ari’s beautiful book, Advanced Style (available online and in good books shops, including Oscar and Friends in Double Bay). Follow him on Twitter HERE and Instagram HERE
Then, all you have to do is wait until October (or September in the US) when The Advanced Style documentary brings the book – and Ari’s work – to life, on movie screens across Australia.
It’s a true personification of the Orson Welles quote that says:
Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.