If the saying goes that beauty fades as you age, no one ever told that to Ari Seth Cohen.
Cohen, 31, a New York City-based photographer has made a name for himself, and a career, out of photographing beauties of the silver-haired set.
“My grandmothers were my best friends and I was inspired by them,” he said. “One grandmother always told me I should move to New York and, when I did, I saw all these ladies who reminded me of my grandmothers and I wondered why they were so ignored by fashion and the media.”
Cohen’s photographs on his blog, Advanced Style, of fashionable women he sees on the streets caught the eye of New Zealand designer Karen Walker, who hired Cohen to shoot the ad campaign for her Karen Walker Forever eyewear line.
Instead of featuring models young enough to be carded, the campaign features four New York women old to have their own AARP cards.
“Every single one of them I met while walking around New York,” Cohen said of his four models, 92-year-old Ilona Royce Smithkin, 80-year-old Joyce Carpati, 65-year-old Linda Rodin and 80-year-old Lynn Dell.
Cohen went to each woman’s New York home in December for the photo shoot and used each woman’s own clothing and home’s interior.
“That was just wallpaper and the backgrounds they had in their apartments,” he said of the brightly-colored ads. “I wanted to bring their interior aesthetic into the photos and show positive images of getting older and inspiring images of aging.”
For the women, each of whom Cohen became personal friends with and worked with after initially spotting them out and about in the city, modeling for Cohen is something of a rebirth.
“Joyce worked at Cosmo as an advertising and beauty director and she’s said meeting me has given her a whole new career again and she’s never felt better,” he said. “They’re such good sports and so excited about doing things like this.”
Cohen said the models exhibited model behavior throughout the shoots, contributing their own ideas and passion, but only fell short in one area.
“They always want to see the pictures in the middle of shooting,” he said.