When I originally started Advanced Style over eight years ago, I had just moved to New York City after the passing of my grandmother and best friend Bluma. I began to document the style and stories of some of the city's most inspiring older people as a tribute to her and way to deal with the profound loss of living without her inimitable guidance. I knew that the people I was photographing had the power to inspire, but I never could have imagined the extent to which this personal project has since blossomed into a global movement re-imagining the picture of aging--the idea that one can look forward to their later years as one of the most productive, liberating, and rich chapters in life.
Since the publication of my first book and the release of the Advanced Style documentary, it's been quite an adventure. From Sydney to Tokyo, Rome to Buenos Aires, I have had the privilege to meet some incredibly dressed and inspirational ladies and gentleman who continually astound me with their wisdom, creativity, and vitality. No matter where I find myself in the world, when I hit the streets to photo-hunt, it's not one particular style that attracts me--nor am I attempting to judge what is in good or bad taste. Who truly catches my eye are those whose artful and creative dressing is a reflection of their indomitable spirits and the refusal to become invisible.
Over the years, I've picked up my fair share of advice from the Advanced Style set. Never do when you can overdo. You must dance your way through life. Don't ever stop playing. The true key to aging with advanced style is maintaining an attitude of optimism, a healthy and active lifestyle, and a sense of continued purpose.
My book contains photographs accompanied by selected essays from some of the exceptional people that have allowed me to take their photographs. You'll first meet 97-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch, a yoga master who travels the world teaching and sharing her wisdom with thousands of people. Her energy is boundless, and she lives by the mantra "there is no age." She is proof that the secret to growing old with exuberance is simply a matter of mindset. Men and women, young and old alike, email me every day saying that people like Tao have helped not only rid them of their anxieties about getting older, but have also made them look forward to the freedom and sagacity that comes with aging.
I hope that if we begin to see aging differently that we will start to treat older people with the respect and reverence they deserve. By refusing to accept the notion that growing older is something to be feared, we can begin to fully embrace our elderhood with as much joy, creative growth, and imagination as our childhood.
Text excerpted from the introduction to the forthcoming Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, from powerHouse Books, available for preorder now via Amazon.