As you've probably noticed (or read a trend piece about) recently, over-60 women are having a moment in fashion. In the past year or so, we've seen Joan Didion for Céline, Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent, Jessica Lange for Marc Jacobs Beauty, Catherine Deneuve for Louis Vuitton, Charlotte Rampling for Nars, Helen Mirren and Twiggy for L'Oreal, and Iris Apfel for Alexis Bittar, Kate Spade and & Other Stories. (Apfel also has a documentary coming out at the end of this month.)
Putting stylish older women at the forefront of fashion may be trendy right now, but for Ari Seth Cohen, erasing the stigma associated with getting older is more of a life mission — or at least a career goal. With his blog Advanced Style, which is now also a book and a documentary (currently on Netflix), Cohen has sought to inspire people to see aging in a new light by featuring beautiful images of gorgeous older women who are doing (and wearing) great things, well into their 80s and 90s.
This week, Cohen's mission has manifested in his first collaboration on an actual product: hearing aids for Audicus, an online retailer that positions itself as the "Warby Parker of hearing aids." With Audicus's design team, he created removable adhesives in bright patterns, like pink sparkles and leopard print. He also directed a great short film starring Joyce Carpati, one of the subjects of his documentary.
"For a long time I’ve thought about doing projects with devices," Cohen tells Fashionista. "I was a caretaker for my grandmother, and when you’re a caretaker you’re surrounded by hearing aids, canes, walkers and all these things; if they were more attractive, they would bring lot of joy to the people who have to use them."
Like Cohen, Audicus wants to get rid of the stigma associated with hearing aids — naturally, because then it can sell more of them. "People think hearing aids are still big and clunky, they're associated with old age or being handicapped and very few people know these products are tiny, elegant and sophisticated," explains Audicus CEO Patrick Freuler. "Ari is going down a very analogous path in making aging something beautiful." Freuler's goal with the collaboration was to position the hearing aid as a fashion accessory rather than a medical tool. "I think [Cohen] captured it extremely well."
In the short film, Carpati is seen getting ready for a night out, putting on her lipstick, pearls, sunglasses and hearing aid, as if it's simply another piece of jewelry. It's very smart marketing, and a concept Cohen feels could apply to other products used by the same demographic. "A lot of people want to hide their hearing aids, walkers, and canes, so there’s this culture of making those things clinical and bland ... people want options that are more fashionable and more fun." Would Cohen consider doing a line of those products himself? "It's something I’ve been thinking about for long time."
Thus far, Cohen has acted as somewhat of a modeling agent for the subjects of his blog, getting them cast in campaigns for brands like Lanvin and Karen Walker. In Walker's case, he explained, "Most of the customer-base was young. Karen told me that [after the campaign] older women were coming and buying her sunglasses." He sees it like this: When a "16-year-old" reps a brand, "who can really relate to that? 16-year-olds can't afford the stuff being advertised," whereas when you see someone 80 or 90, you might think, "I can’t wait to look as cool as her."
Next up, Cohen is working on a "few new book projects" and a short film about men's fashion with Lina Plioplyte, with whom he also worked on his documentary and the Audicus campaign.
Like any smart blogger, Cohen is set on extending his brand. With his unparalleled understanding of and influence over such a powerful demographic when it comes to fashion, his future looks as bright as that pink, sparkly hearing aid.