Meet Ari Seth Cohen

Ari Seth Cohen with actress Mimi Weddell

From Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen, published by powerHouse Books

Ari Seth Cohen with actress Mimi Weddell

The N.Y.C.-based blogger made a name for himself by posting photos of stylish matrons wearing hats and gloves and posed on chaise longues. His blog, Advanced Style, has been lauded among the cultural and fashion elite since 2008. Now his first book, also called Advanced Style, has just cracked the Top 100 on The Del Cerro native and Patrick Henry High alum talks about how he owes it all to his grandmother and the Chula Vista library.

What inspired you to move to New York and photograph 80- and 90-year-olds? Growing up in Del Cerro, my grandmother was my best friend. She was a librarian at the Chula Vista library. She’d tell me about going to Columbia University and how wonderful New York was in the late 1930s. When she passed away in 2007, I went to New York and discovered everything she had told me about.

How did the blog start? I just walked the streets and saw how well dressed the older women are. My grandmother would never leave the house without her red lipstick. Elegance and presentation are important to these women.

So fashion, style, and culture don’t have to be "youth-obsessed?" Our population has a huge number of older people, and I thought they should have a platform to share their wisdom, to tell younger people it’s okay to get older, and older people that it’s okay to be themselves.

We saw you on The Today Show. What other style icons follow your blog? Marc Jacobs based one of his collections on my photographs. I cast two women in a Lanvin ad, another woman in a Lincoln ad. Iris Apfel happens to be a celebrity now. She did the textiles in the White House for I don’t know how many presidents and she’s in my book. I try not to focus on famous people, though. I try to find regular people, like the woman I had lunch with today. She is 101, lives by herself, and does Pilates twice a week.

Do you feel famous? It’s not something I focus on. Yesterday my 92-year-old friend Elena invited me to a restaurant opening. Then I had lunch at a museum with three older ladies. I do have a unique lifestyle for a 31-year-old guy living in N.Y.C. I’m just trying to change the perception of aging. I get emails from women all over the world saying that they are not afraid of getting old.

Any inspiring women in SD? My mom is my San Diego scout. Sally Thornton is someone I saw around when I was a little kid. She is in my book.

So is San Diego a cultural wasteland compared to NYC? I appreciate them both. In New York, they walk everywhere. Staying active is key to living a long life. In San Diego, the museums need to take a bigger interest and have activities and places for older people to go. It would be great to work in eldercare later on in my career in SD.

What would your grandmother say about all this? I feel like she’s always with me. I’m doing this in the spirit of her. I wish she could be with me, but she is definitely part of the story.

// ECS

Find more information about Cohen’s book, upcoming documentary, and blog at

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