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FULL EPISODE

Advanced Style

A love letter to the aging fashionistas who keep New York fabulous, this documentary follows street photographer Ari Seth Cohen as he captures their boundless creativity. We experience their zest for life and deep wisdom as they tell their stories.

AIRED: February 15, 2021 | 1:12:10
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TRANSCRIPT

(ding)

(honking)

Excuse me, ma'am, you look so gorgeous and elegant.

-I'm so sorry to bother you. -No, you're not bothering.

Well, I think just the opposite.

-Oh really? -(speaking foreign language)

I'm good, how are you?

Mister was telling me I look gorgeous and elegant.

He's gone on to...

and I'm going to watch the rest of the parade.

Oh, okay, good, how's your dad?

He's fine, thank you.

Good, give them both my best.

(speaking foreign language)

Sorry to bother you.

That's okay.

Excuse me, so sorry to bother you.

You look so elegant and I photograph

stylish women in New York.

I was wondering if I could take a photo of you.

You look amazing, you look really amazing.

You're gonna be one of my younger

'cause I usually start at 50, but you look so great.

-I'll give you my card. -I'm 60.

Wow, you look incredible.

I have a project called Advanced Style

where I photograph women over 50 who have great style

and who are active and vital.

Some of them are in their hundreds

and I just came out with a book and I just want to show people

that you can be active and creative and vital

no matter what age you are.

You are gorgeous.

Looks great.

And now, turn your head towards me

and look right at me.

I started photographing women for my blog, Advanced Style,

four years ago when I moved to New York City.

I saw all these incredibly dressed older women

on the streets and wanted to capture them

and show people that aging can be a wonderful thing,

that you can dress up and feel good,

no matter what age you are.

My grandmothers were my best friends

and one of them told me at an early age,

if I wanted to be creative, I should move to New York City.

New York is the perfect city for Advanced Style ladies

because they can use the broad avenues

and the streets as their runways.

These women really challenge our notion of getting older.

They really embrace their age, feel good about themselves

and every time they leave the house,

they look and feel their best.

I've always connected with older people.

I've always felt a certain affinity for older people

and I think it's because of all the time that I spent

with my grandmothers and all the wisdom

that they shared with me and I feel like

so many older people are ignored.

The average woman is so beaten down

and indoctrinated and besieged, everywhere she looks,

there are pictures of sweet, young things,

12 and a half, wearing these gorgeous clothes

and all this makeup and everything else.

Now, how can you possibly look like that?

In magazines, it's only the young women

who are, you know, looking great and whatever

and they don't show older women,

which is why Ari's blog is so fantastic is because they do.

They show the older people who dress

and there are definitely so many of us who do.

The whole idea of shifting the view

onto these women who are older is quite anarchic

and provocative and very much against the prevailing

fashion system, so if you're looking for a punk rock,

anarchy, look at Advanced Style.

I think that Advanced Style ladies are inspiring

and have a lot of wisdom.

I see my future in them.

In the beginning, it started out as something for me.

It was a personal project and a way to connect

with my grandmother again.

I didn't know what would happen with the blog.

I didn't know what people would think about my photographs.

I never had any idea that these women

would end up in fashion campaigns.

All I knew is that these were incredible people

and I had to share them with the world.

-Thank you, sweetheart. -Bye-bye, take care.

Okay, you as well.

Henry's gonna be my chauffeur one day.

-Yes. -And what does Henry call me?

Coco Chanel, Miss Glamorous.

Miss Glamorous and Coco Chanel and he'll always say to me,

"Coco Chanel would never be taking the subway."

So, one day, we're dr-- what are we driving?

What are you gonna be driving me in?

-A Phantom. -A Phantom, what's a--

-A Rolls-Royce. -Oh, a Phantom.

A Phantom, all right.

You sure I'll like that more than a Bentley?

-Yes. -All right.

I bike everywhere 'cause you get places very quickly

and people see you.

I kind of, like, show off my outfits on a bike.

I do not wear helmets and I should wear a helmet.

I'm doing the outfit and the helmets take away

from the outfits, which I know is crazy,

but every outfit for me has a hat.

God, it'd be nice if the key came out.

Oh, I don't remember.

(alarm wailing)

I really am an artist and my art is dressing.

So, I saw this hat here last summer, right?

And I was actually wearing this outfit that day

and I came in and I said, "Oh, my God, I think that hat

works with what I'm wearing because of the flowers

and the colors."

Sometimes, I'm building an outfit for years,

like, seven years one outfit took because until I found

the perfect earrings for that outfit,

I didn't wear the outfit.

You know, if the painting is not finished,

I don't take it out into the world.

I do a portrait with clothing, with the jewelry, with the hats,

with the pins, with the, you know?

I mean, for me, with the shoes, with the scarf,

it all completes a portrait.

I take it to the Nth degree, most people don't.

You know, they're too busy living their lives,

doing other things, but this is my art,

this is my life, this is my passion,

this is my livelihood.

Ooh, look what I found.

Now, these are killer.

It's $150 and I'm also working on Friday,

so maybe--

See, that's the problem with working.

I don't go home with money, but I go home with stuff.

I never wanted to look young, I wanted to look great.

I've been retired since 1999.

I've worked for the Hearst Magazine Corporation

and had a marvelous time with Cosmopolitan Magazine

and prior to that, with Good Housekeeping.

I worked on the two finest magazines of a corporation

and I tell you, I miss them, I do.

Can you imagine a woman at that time in the magazine industry?

There was nothing more exciting

and there were really very few women in there.

I think I was one of the first.

But I had another sub-career and that was music and singing.

When I went to study my operatic roles,

I was only 16, in Milan,

then I got my first sense of style

and I was really a kid, you know?

And there were women who came out in the morning

wearing a beautiful suit, just a suit,

a lovely sweater and a pair of pearls.

I thought, "That's me, oh, my God, that's me."

I am dressed up for the theater of my life every day.

I get such a kick out of it.

I've had a boutique shop called Off Broadway Boutique

for the last 42 years.

It's the longest running show in the West Side

and one thing, the show never closes, thank God.

My stepfather sold me the first store in the Bronx for $7,000.

Now, I didn't have $7,000 at that time,

but my husband did and I begged him.

I said, "Please buy this store for me."

And he figured, well, I'll have a little store

and it'll keep me off the streets

and I won't get into trouble

and I won't flirt and I won't do this.

Well, P.S., he was right, but he never thought

that it was gonna change my life.

It's all called attitude, that's what it is.

You put it up here, high, or look, and even here.

No, I sell these to women who are a little big.

Yes, it's called attitude, honey.

I'm looking for something like that.

Hello.

It is inexcusable for a woman not to have her nails polished,

not to have nice shoes.

Money has nothing to do with style.

-You didn't ask me about my day. -I know, you don't tell me.

-I can tell. -How do you know?

Pat, I wasn't born yesterday, I just feel it.

I felt it.

How'd you do, sweetheart? She's so beautiful.

-How'd you do? -How was this?

-Isn't it gorgeous? -It's so great.

It is, gorgeous.

Gorgeous, of course, she's a beautiful girl.

With a little, slinky, black dress

and you'll be showing your beautiful, little figure

and some hot, sexy shoes.

And in the winter, you do with, like, a jump suit,

you know, and some boots.

You could work it.

Either you have it or you don't, but you can learn.

If you don't have it, and most people do not have it,

they come into a shop like ours and we help you acquire it.

You are very lucky that you have two beautiful breasts.

Okay, you're very lucky.

You are wearing a bag

that absolutely accentuates your bust

and you shouldn't do that.

It's breaking up your whole beautiful chest.

Never wear a bag over your chest.

You should look in the mirror and see yourself.

You know, after 42 years,

people love that we're still there.

People come back and say, "You're still here?

Oh, my God, I got my wedding dress here.

I don't have my husband anymore, but I got my

Mexican wedding dress here."

You don't know where the next dollar's gonna come from,

so there's a saying, hand to mouth is better

than nine to five.

So, if you buy into that philosophy,

then you just know that whatever money comes in,

you're gonna find a way to live on it.

Of course, living in New York, one's rent is your biggest nut

and other than that, you know, I know how to shop for food,

I know how to thrift, you know, I'm very lucky

people give me really fabulous clothes.

My whole philosophy, it's not about fashion,

it's the attitude that style is healing

because it's about personal creativity.

I consider my body an armature and I then just build upon it

and I assemble, I build and I construct

using textures, layers and color

to create the sculptural look that I'm interested in

for my body, and to me, that's the most fun.

Two more toilet paper rolls,

so I can make more bracelets.

Fashion is one thing, fashion is about trends,

it's about what's the latest thing

and then everybody looks the same.

I don't find it very challenging to go to the fancy stores

and just buy what's the latest trend.

(whistling sound)

Hey, stop that.

Speaking of fashion, you know, now, anything goes.

When I grew up, we had certain styles

and certain things were elegant and certain things were tacky.

You know, however, now, I look around

and sometimes stand on a street and I see people pass by

with most incongruous things,

things which, I mean, I wouldn't dream to put together.

But I feel, at this stage, I feel if they have fun

and they think it's gorgeous, it's their joy, you know?

It's their own thing.

There was a fellow from France who used to make eyelashes

and I bought them and then he died

and I said, "What am I going to do, they're falling out here?"

And so, I decided, in order to have it right,

I took my own hair and I cut it

and I made my own eyelashes.

I would call myself, now, an artist.

At one time, I had no self confidence

and I didn't think I could do anything,

but seeing so much art around and seeing what I can do

and what I've learned and represent,

I am an artist and I am a teacher.

I feel, when I do a portrait, and it really comes out nice,

I'm very delighted.

I was commissioned by Ayn Rand.

I got cold feet and I said, "Oh, this is a famous person.

How will I ever do it?"

I just thought, "I am scared s * tless."

And when I did it, she really liked it

and she said, "That's exactly how I feel about myself.

There's one thing, part of the lip,

I don't like sentimentality, can you do that different?"

And so, I did that and then, she put it on her books.

What I would like to give you is an idea,

what an artist needs to be an artist.

I came into my own about, maybe ten, twelve,

thirteen years ago, actually, when I started to teach.

Painting is 90% observing.

You don't just look and oh, it's a red apple,

but you also see where is it fat,

where does it come together, what is happening?

It's like a whole story it's telling you.

I never used to tell my age to my students,

always ask me, "How old are you?"

And I used to say, "I'm between 50 and death."

I'm not 20 anymore and I have a whole life to look forward to,

so I have very limited time.

With pain in your body, you also don't know

how long will I be able to do it.

I can't buy green bananas anymore,

so I don't make long commitments anymore.

Bam!

It's very important to me to come back to the Apollo.

It's like coming back home.

I was born in the height of the Great Depression.

My mother played the illegal numbers in the morning

as she gave birth to me and she hit,

so they considered me a lucky child.

This is Jacquie Murdock.

She was one of the original Apollo Theater dancers,

one of the original Apollo Theater dancer.

I came here when I was 17 years old.

I felt like I was in heaven.

Dancing at the Apollo was the highlight of my life.

Harlem, when you walk down on a Sunday after church,

people would promenade down 7th Avenue.

They were dressed to the tees.

They might have been maids and porters during the week,

but come Friday night and Saturday night,

they were ready to put on their rags and come out

and profile because they dressed nice.

It was just a wonderful era growing up.

You know, I never saw my father in a casual outfit.

He was always in a suit and he wore those--

Stetson hat with the brim.

Oh yeah.

I've always loved fashion.

I used to always haveVogue Magazine

and these fashion magazines, you know?

And I always had a sense of being unique

and having my own unique style.

I think I was born happy.

I was a ten-pound baby.

I love fashion.

I think good style improves the environment for everybody.

So, I love designing my own things

and collecting the cloths.

When I traveled in Africa, there were many weavers.

Most of the time, I'd get cloth like this,

which is hand-loomed.

Are you a fashion designer?

Just for myself, are you?

No, no, but I know many people who are.

I thought maybe I was seeing--

Oh, no.

I just travel a great deal,

so I collect beautiful weaving

and then I look at it and they make a sketch

and I go to a tailor.

Voilà.

When one becomes older,

one has learned to accept one's self.

You know, one is not so self critical, I think.

I was never too critical of myself,

but because I felt, "Well, this is what I am.

There's nothing I can do about it."

I can't believe I'm 62 because I still feel 14, 12,

so, it shocks me that I'm 62, it does.

It shocks me 'cause I certainly don't feel it.

They're like the hostessing gigs.

I'll show up, you know, at the restaurants,

they'll have an open call, for, you know, hostesses.

They look at me like I'm crazy.

I'm on everyone's blogs, you know?

I tell them all that, I bring the portfolio

and I still don't get hired and I'm sure it's the age.

Hey, old lady, lady, you look very beautiful today.

-Thank you. -Very lovely, indeed.

You're half an hour late.

Well, honey, you know, I have to make a little entrance.

-Hello, darling. -Everybody is waiting for you.

Full house.

Oh, hello, hello, hello.

I'm a painter, but I'm also a fashion designer,

so the paintings are a fashion statement

and Tziporah is a fashion statement.

Five, four, three!

Wow, wow!

Wow, oh, my God.

(clapping)

It's really good, yeah.

The hair's good, the eyebrows are good.

-And the eyes are fabulous. -Yeah, the eyes are good.

Yeah, the chin's a little off.

Lately, I have become a performer.

I do some charity shows whenever they ask me for fundraising

or sometimes in a nightclub.

Ilona!

All right, you ready for me, I'll be ready for you.

(cheering)

(singing in foreign language)

(clapping)

When I'm on top and I'm performing,

I have the whole responsibility and I have to be the star.

(singing in foreign language)

(clapping)

Madam Ilona Royce Smithkin.

(clapping)

I love to dance.

I think I inherited that love from my mother.

My mother used to love to dance

and her mother used to love to dance.

Oh, my God.

Are you still dancing?

Very rarely because my partners are all dead.

♪ Happy birthday to you

(cheering)

Any kind of exercise is going to keep the mind

and the body in good shape.

I've always walked, but not necessarily as an exercise,

just because that's the thing we do in New York.

It's just great to walk and that's, I think,

why they say New Yorkers are so healthy

because we're out on the streets more than any cars.

When I was, like, in my middle, late 50s,

I discovered yoga.

It just feels good.

It just opens my mind and my body.

I do yoga at least four times a week,

sometimes five.

You know, at almost 70, I don't wanna injure myself,

but I wanna keep my body open and strong.

If I can stay healthy, which I make a point of,

then I know that I could live to 100 or 105

in good health.

If, God forbid, I'm on a respirator

or I'm with dementia, no, I don't wanna live,

I don't wanna live that way.

I'd rather check out.

I'll be 80 next January.

I don't believe that I'm that age.

I mean, I don't know what that age is supposed to be,

but I don't feel--

You are ageless.

-No, I'm not ageless. -You are!

It's like you don't look like 80.

I just don't feel like it,

but I still am 80!

You're going to be, but you're not a number.

I am a number, but it's okay,

the number's fine.

You aren't born with a number.

You do what you want, let me do what I want.

You're a beautiful, spiritual lady.

Absolutely so.

You have a number and you know.

That's right!

I have a number and I'm still

a beautiful, spiritual lady.

$200?

We have to do it, do it.

That's it, do it.

I just have to call Bradley, nothing.

$200, we're gonna go for it.

It's been 60 years of marriage,

if you can believe that.

We just got this new TV for Sandy,

which is right next to his chair,

because he can't see very well.

And we wanted him to have something very close.

He doesn't see anything but images.

He sees nothing.

But he thinks he does, he's so amazing.

His mind is so brilliant.

Look, you see this machine?

Watch what it's gonna do.

Jessie Spector was determined to give away

her inheritance as soon as she received it.

I had to have a caregiver 'cause I won't

leave him alone for a minute,

because God forbid if he falls,

he can't see.

You want me?

Oh, absolutely, we always want you.

But really, am I the luckiest woman in the world?

I must tell you, to have a man who is brilliant

who's loving, who cares,

I am the most important thing in his life.

He's my best friend.

He is there for me, he's concerned with my business,

he's concerned with my health,

he's concerned with everything.

How lucky can I be? Sixty-one years,

and believe me, we've had a few--

couple of rough slides along the way.

I...a few little boyfriends, a few little things.

But you know what?

You get very frightened 'cause you see

the end is close.

You see the end is close, so you want to enjoy

every minute and be grateful

for everything you can do.

Sandy, you're gonna be my honest opinion?

You're gonna give me an honest opinion, all right?

You like it?

That's almost as good as what we had in China.

In China?

Oh, Sandy, God bless you.

You should live to be 150.

Hello! Hi!

Hello, darling!

Give me.

Hello Annette, how are you?

It's so good to see you, I'm fine.

Come in!

My grandmother, I've actually told

a lot of my friends about everything she's done,

and they all think that that's really cool,

and it makes me feel really proud.

She's told me that I have a really good

sense of style,

and I think it's really good to hear that from her

because I know that a lot of people,

including me, think that she does, too.

So, tell me, in fashion,

what do you really like?

What are you looking for?

Um, I love colors.

Lots of really bright colors.

You know, I would love to show you things, Ariana.

You never saw a number of the Chanel bags I have.

You know, I take very good care of them

because I'm gonna be giving them to you one day.

-You gave me one, right? -I gave you one for--

Yeah, the over-the-shoulder, I love that one.

I wear it a lot.

That was a small one that I brought to you from Paris.

That was beautiful, yes.

But I wanna show you some bags that I have

and I don't think you've seen them all.

This is a beautiful one, Ariana.

It's really pretty.

Yes, it is.

What's it made of?

It's crocodile.

Real? Like, real?

Yes, it's real.

It's like real, it is!

Okay.

Do you like the idea?

-It's a little bit scary. -A little bit scary?

It's dead, so I wouldn't be afraid of it, you know?

I've always wanted to have children,

but I always only wanted to have children

with a husband.

And when that didn't happen...

I never considered being a single mother.

And to this day I want children.

I'm hoping that the man I end up marrying,

which I know I'm destined to marry someone.

And I look forward to getting married

and hopefully he'll have children of his own

so that I'll have his children.

That's what I'm hoping.

The hats, the bags, the shoes, the jackets,

all of that.

They were my children.

And they're still my children

in that they require a lot of work and upkeep.

Washing it by hand, and mending it,

and taking it to the seamstress,

and to the invisible mender.

Change the buttons, and get antique buttons,

going to the flea markets, you know, it's...

So, it keeps me busy.

So, in that sense, I imagine if I had children,

maybe, but who knows?

I don't know, I can't say that.

But children, I do want children.

Yeah.

I'm only regretting one thing.

I thought when I got older

that I would've grown old with a husband,

you know, 'cause I am very feminine.

And I like, you know, being married,

I like having a companion.

-You can call me-- -In the morning?

You can call me any time except

when my wife is listening in.

Uh-oh! Uh-oh!

Don't tell me she's still jealous.

But darling, I'm gonna talk to you

if you wanna come inside.

-You just call me. -I'll call you.

-Okay. -Lord have mercy.

This is the safe.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

If I met a man that, say,

his wife died or something, and he had a mansion...

and a Rolls-Royce,

and loved to go out to dinner,

and love cultural things,

you know, and wanted a lady on his arm

that appreciate all the better things in life,

naturally.

You ready?

♪ I'm better with age

♪ I like lines in my face ♪

♪ Each line is a page,

tells the story of my life ♪

I'm in love all the time.

So, I mean, if Stan holds my hand,

I'm like in heaven.

And it just, it goes right to my heart.

So...

You're gonna make me cry.

'Cause now I feel like a 12-year-old

talking about her first boyfriend,

because that's kinda what it's like, you know,

all over again.

Soca is out of this world.

Mmm!

Seventy-four, sixty-seven,

so there's a seven-year difference.

He's very youthful, and he's fortunately

in very good health.

And so am I.

Well, we first met like 10 years ago,

we only had like an afternoon date.

And then I never heard from him.

She actually looked like a clown to me.

So, I actually stopped seeing her

for a few years.

I know that men are often afraid

of too much embellishments

or being too outlandish as a woman,

and I didn't really wanna scare him away.

So, I remember very consciously wanting

to just be "more normal."

And I think I did that for the next few dates.

Really looking in the mirror

and evaluating myself saying, "Okay,

so what would a man think of this outfit?"

And little by little, we both loved to thrift,

and the more we thrifted together,

we both realized how much we loved

to play with clothes and layering,

and he gets very much into it, too.

And he's totally supportive.

♪ I'm better with age

♪ I am a very old sage ♪

♪ Starting a new age

♪ I'm better with age

♪ A man of style

♪ I'm better with age

♪ Better with age

♪ I'm better with age

♪ Better with age

Long time ago...

Wonderful memories, yeah.

-Hi! -Hello Deborah!

Come in, come in!

Oh, I'm so glad you're here,

it's a pleasure.

My husband had this from Europe.

It was in his family.

Everything I-- most of the things I have,

not all, but most of these are from Hungary.

So, was your husband ill before he passed away?

Yes, he was.

He had Parkinson's

and he had a heart condition.

How old was he?

He was in his 60s,

and it was devastating for me to see him like that.

How old were you?

I was in my 40s.

-That was really young. -And yes, yes.

And I just,

I thought, "My God, what am I gonna do?"

But then I had gotten a job in the meantime

when he was ill.

You always feel that way,

you feel a little lost, but being me,

I just put myself into my job, you know?

We're getting older, we're either losing partners

or we're contemplating what happens if.

You know, how do you continue to live

a creative, full life?

-You just go on. -Yeah.

And you do what you're doing,

and that's the way it is.

And if you don't...

you're out of luck.

How are you?

Today is national hat day.

And we're having a party from five to eight.

And the press is all going to be here.

We're taking pictures because it's national hat day!

So, we're glad that you came in a hat.

That's lovely, but that's for a photo shoot.

This is what you can wear.

It will be gorgeous on you.

Look in the mirror.

Is that cute?

Is that? No?

How about this?

It's too cute, it's too sweet.

Too sweet?

-I love... -The big ones? Okay.

-This one. -Which one?

That one will go with her outfit.

Wait, this one.

No, this one, she'll love this.

That is the hat for her.

Make it go any way you want.

The wire is in it.

It's too matchy-match.

For you, but not for her.

Her personality and her pink eyelashes,

and her pink hair, honey,

she doesn't need more.

This is it.

Pat! Welcome!

That hat is stunning.

-How are you? -Good to see you.

We can't kiss with our hats.

That's right.

Lance will take your coat.

Show Pat where we're putting the coats, Lance.

If you buy a hat, you can stay.

Everyone say hi to Norway!

Hi Norway!

Well, what do you know?

Advanced Style has changed from just being a blog

to being a movement.

And the women that I've started photographing

are recognized all over the world.

When I travel, people come up to me and ask,

"How is Ilona? How is Tziporah?

How is Ruth?"

And these women really have kind of this

new recognition and new fame,

and it's really kind of inspired the fashion industry

to take notice of older women,

and start putting them in campaigns

and realizing they're an important demographic

to reach out to.

Thank you for calling Off Broadway.

Surely, just a moment please.

Pat!

There's a lady here who said her life was changed.

-Who is that? -She's from Alaska.

She's in the back and she's from Alaska.

That website absolutely changed my life.

Tell me the whole story.

I came across the blog in January.

And was so impressed because you ladies

were advanced age, advanced style.

And it completely turned my idea of aging around.

Isn't that wonderful.

God, that's really what we wanna do.

That's what it's all about.

And that's what Ari wants to do.

And I seem younger, more creative

for the first time in my life

I felt I had some creativity.

I look in my closet and it comes out

with all different things.

That's it, that you never thought

you'd wear a turquoise with a--

-Yeah, it's amazing. -Never had thought about that.

That's so wonderful.

-Thank you. -Thankyou.

Been doing the same thing I've been doing

since five years old,

and to be acknowledged for it

is really kind of fun at this point.

And everyone else in the ad is 25 or under.

So I'm very flattered that they would choose me.

That's awesome that they would do that.

You know, at 66 that they're letting me put on

youthful clothes and letting me do

whatever I wanna do, style wise.

That was the whole idea with the campaign,

kinda do whatever you want, style yourself.

Well, the title of the campaign

is "Money Can't Buy Style."

So, there we are!

In living color!

Is that her?

Yeah, do you like that?

That's you?

That is really cool.

Look, look!

Let me give you something, hold on.

Oh, you're so kind!

You know, I'm really very young,

I feel the same as I did when I was 18,

but I have fewer cares now,

and I'm willing to do anything at this point.

"As you recalled, we had a short

but lovely and lively visit

on the street last Friday afternoon

as you were taking a stroll not far

from your home in the West Village.

I was with my handsome fun friend, Jeffrey,

and we simply could not resist meeting you

following my having enjoyed seeing you

on the Today Show several months previously.

I've enclosed two photos for you as a memento

of our street rendezvous.

Frankly, I think we made a very attractive trio.

I feel that it was somehow meant to be

that our paths crossed that day,

as if you are a blazing, red-haired,

twinkle-eyed angel who dropped into my life

for some reason."

Is that a lovely letter?

Well, you asked me how my work

makes me feel, how does your being--

This means more to me than a lot of other things.

That somebody whom I've never seen before

is so taken with that, that I could do

something for him.

And that I could see him or whatever it is.

-Lynn! -Hello, Ilona!

Beautiful woman!

We both have great taste,

and we have both wonderful people.

And we have a great feeling for life.

Absolutely!

And we're here at 11 o'clock in the morning.

I have no idea what we're doing here.

I have not any idea either.

But that's much more fun.

Absolutely!

So, do you, I know we're asking you a lot of questions,

do you have any questions for us?

Yes, we absolutely wanna know

what is it you want with us?

How long a time is it going to be?

Exactly, I wanna know everything!

So, these fabulous folks from Hot Snakes

pitched us a series called Elder Skelter,

which is basically about--

I would not know.

--older people who commit crimes, let's say, murder.

And so, because it's all we do are these murder mysteries

that people really wanna watch,

we just try to do them in every way possible.

And that's why this is one of the most--

So in other words, we can look glamorous

but be a bitch and stick a knife in somebody?

All right, I got it, okay, I got it.

How many hours are--

-Each day? -Each day, yeah.

We can work around that for sure,

just to make sure.

They have a lot of energy, but at the same time,

you probably would want to take breaks here and there.

We should talk about how to structure it,

that's why--yeah.

We would try and film your participation in that

in a few days, a chunk of a few days.

That's all we have left, honey.

You've gotta get us while we're here,

because otherwise you'll be filming

what happened to us.

I think the only thing that really happens

when you're old is you want to,

"I better take more trips, I better do more,"

because it's almost over.

"I better do more."

You wanna grab everything in

and realize that time is very important.

You know that's interesting that you say that, Lynn,

I am exactly the opposite.

I've traveled a lot, I've done a lot

of dumb things, a lot of wonderful things,

a lot of silly things.

And I feel so happy and contented now,

I don't have that terrible urge anymore.

"I've got to have this, I've got to have this."

You don't have a bucket list?

Yeah!

Isn't it a wonderful thing?

You feel this way, and I feel this way.

And we're both happy our own way.

Right, I mean, I've been to Tibet,

but I still wanna do more.

I still-- I wanna see more,

I wanna learn more.

I do, I do.

It's an insatiable appetite.

That's great.

Well, I think being on TV

will be one of those experiences.

I think it'll be fun.

So, Ari called me yesterday to say,

"Hey, I have great news.

You're being considered--

Can you meet tomorrow at Steven Meisel,

you're being considered for the Lanvin campaign."

And I was like, "Oh my God, are you serious?"

Well, I know Lanvin is a Paris house.

Very famous high fashion.

And I consider myself high fashion.

So, I hope I have the chance.

It was a one big long table,

and it was Steven with his little yarmulke bandana,

not yarmulke, bandana on his head,

which is what he wears.

It was a joke 'cause I never got to see Steven Meisel.

They took a little tiny picture of me.

Yet Elle, who does the website in the store,

she could've sent them 100 pictures of me,

so I don't know what they wanted me

down here for, but we took

a lovely limousine down here,

cost $20 and a tip.

I sat there, there were all these

young kids around me.

Lots of cute guys and cute girls,

and they were all young!

Hello!

-How are you? -I'm good, how are you?

We can walk next to each other and say hello.

Terrific, darling.

Yes, this was fun.

Terrific, absolutely.

We'll meet like this all the time.

Only, it's beginning to rain.

I know, I have to take off my marabou

because it's gonna--

-It's all right. -Yes, it's okay.

I don't mind a little rain.

Did they get to meet him?

We're not talking about that.

Fine, anyway, I got meet him,

which I love.

So, this is a big to-do, I think.

Oh, I hope it happens, Ari.

I hope it happens, I hope it happens.

-Tziporah. -Yes, honey.

You know what I've learned from Nona.

It's just the experience.

You're right, you're right, you're right.

Something will come, it's good energy.

Exactly, absolutely.

No, absolutely.

Of course we hope it will happen,

but even if it doesn't happen,

something happened.

Exactly.

I'm convinced it's not gonna be

a struggle for me anymore.

All of a sudden I realized,

God, I have so much that I can give

and do right now.

I'm substitute teaching.

I get to go into the public school system,

the New York City public school system,

every day I go someplace else.

I get to see what's there,

and I get to impact the kids.

So, dressing, really, has a lot of perks to it.

Not only do you get to feel wonderful,

but you get to meet a lot of people

who love you because of it.

It sounds like you're doing very well.

I'm feeling much better.

I'm feeling that anything is possible.

I want to teach young girls how to dress.

You know, and I want to teach

the Hollywood actresses how to dress.

Ultimately, that's what I wanna do,

is go dress the stars.

But I realize that until I make it okay

where I am today, I'm not gonna get there.

I just watched and looked, you know,

at these paintings for hours and hours,

and they just--

the painting sharpened my eyes,

so now they're like diamonds.

Dancer.

Legendary dancer

from the Apollo Theater.

I was born in New York City

in the village of Harlem.

Well, I said that when I was 18

I wanted to go to Paris,

so he could turn it around

and put the eight in front

and the one in behind.

Eight-one instead of one-eight.

Paris is coming to you.

I thought it should've been like this.

Ilona, I heard you were in the New York Post

twice this week.

Yes, sometimes you luck out, I guess.

What was it for?

Well, the last time I went to the runway show

of Corey Lynn Calter,

and there was a candle on the little table

where I perched,

and my scarf was hanging over it,

and it caught a little bit of fire.

And I didn't even know about it

because it wasn't very hot or anything.

And then, somebody came and poured

some champagne over to douse the flames.

-Gina brought this to you? -Yeah.

So what are you thinking about that TV show?

I think it would be wonderful

if it could be done soon

and if it would have a very definite date,

how much time and so on,

and I'd psyche myself out for it

and it would be great.

However, I don't want to disappoint them

as well as I myself can make a commitment for that long.

I really don't know what my body is doing.

From the waist up, I'm wonderful.

From the waist down, don't ask, don't tell.

You know, they emailed me the same thing,

so I did read over it a little bit.

Okay.

And I think the biggest thing is the ladies themselves

said they need the option to work on other projects,

so I think that's a possibility.

But you see, the other ladies are younger than me

and they have more options.

...transport of the flight.

Do not accept it

and notify airline personnel.

She's taking her pills.

-No, I have Evista. -A what?

Evista for the bones.

Evista for the bones?

Did you ever see skin like her skin?

Her skin is the most gorgeous skin in the world.

She has skin, it's, like, translucent.

-Porcelain. -Porcelain.

It is gorgeous.

Soap and water

and a little Vaseline.

I mean, this hairdo is the best.

Look at this.

I'm now a hairstylist.

Well, we're gonna be ourselves on theRicki Lake Show,

and we're gonna do a fashion show

and we're gonna do a couple changes

and we're gonna speak about why we're part

of Ari's blog Advanced Style.

I've waited since I'm 17 years old

to go to Hollywood.

I had a great life before

and I would not change it with kings,

but this is now the most exciting time of my life

I can ever think of.

I'm thrilled to be here

and I'm thrilled I'm alive.

And to think I'm going to LA,

to Hollywood.

That braid on your head is so gorgeous.

-Is it your braid? -It's my braid.

-It's your hair? -Yes, this is my hair.

It is absolutely gorgeous.

-Truly? -Attached or separate?

Who does it?

I do, I do, and it's my hair.

So it's your hair cut and attached?

Yes, it's mine.

He wants us to know he's gonna pull up here.

Oh, I think wherever we go, anyplace we go,

people are gonna love who we are and what we are.

-And ask us why are we here. -Yes, and ask us

what are we doing in our costumes?

(laughing)

Are you--of course in your costume.

-Costumes, it's clothing. -Yes.

-I call my clothing a costume. -Okay.

It's my costume,

and it's full regalia.

We're in full regalia.

Gotta do the whole thing.

Okay, so I just wanted to make an announcement to everyone.

-I'll wait for you. -I just gotta sit in the shade.

Yeah, I just want to make sure everyone's heard today,

so I just don't want anyone to-- yeah.

To talk too much.

You know what, make it spunky and short.

Yeah, exactly, and that's good advice.

-Spunky and short. -Yeah.

And wait till each one finishes.

Yeah, that's very important.

'Cause sometimes I've done things

and people don't realize

but people cut each other off

and it's better to let you finish.

Just watchThe View and you'll know what it's like.

They never let each other finish.

They all talk together, it's terrible.

Do you want to be likeThe View?

(laughing)

(knocking)

Come in.

Hi Lynn.

Hi darling.

-So. -So?

I want to tell you that I love you.

Yes?

And I just want to make sure--

I think you're being a little...

kind of overwhelming,

and I just want to make sure everyone has their stage.

I'm just saying you have wonderful energy, but maybe--

Sometimes the energy is overwhelming.

Yes, and everybody needs to have kind of an equal energy

for a TV show.

Got it.

It's Hollywood!

(applause)

(cheering)

All right, well, without further ado,

let's meet these amazing grande dames of style.

Joyce, come on out.

Yay!

(applause)

You flaunt it!

Thank you.

-Joyce. -Can I ask your age?

Eighty, I'm eighty years old.

(cheering)

♪ Go Ricki, go

♪ Go Ricki

♪ Go, go Ricki, go

Oh yeah!

(laughing)

And I just love to manipulate materials.

I mean, my art is made from recycled materials

that are all about texture and color,

and you're never too old to play with color,

and you're never too old to be creative,

because when you're creative, you stay vital.

I was born with a gift. Everybody has a gift.

And if you feel good, you'll look good,

and this gift was given to me,

and I want you all to know that I have this gift

and I'm happy to share it with you.

If you are making--if you're happy when you look at me,

I'm happy.

It's a wonderful thing.

And you feel good.

Thank you, thank you!

Thank you so much.

Okay, look at me.

(camera clicking)

♪ My dear, stop complaining

♪ My patience is waning

♪ I don't give a damn anymore ♪

Put on sunglasses.

♪ I waited

Put your hat on.

Put your hat on, darling.

Go on.

At my stage of my life,

I'm more interested in the air, the sea,

the feeling of freedom within myself.

I don't have to prove anything to anybody else.

I don't have to impress anybody.

I wouldn't want to because I'm really enjoying myself

at this stage of my life,

and I really feel good about me.

♪ I've been held up in a showdown ♪

♪ I wait for you

How are you, darling?

♪ I'm wonderful

-♪ Marvelous -♪ Marvelous

♪ Just as I like you

Karen is 90, I'm 91,

and I've known her 55 years,

and she did everything for me from paying the bills,

transportation, framing my pictures,

fighting if they didn't want to give it back.

She was absolute--she built my shelves upstairs, everything.

So talented.

And I learned a lot from her.

I did.

-You did? -Oh yes.

Would you mind giving a little back?

Several years ago,

we found out that she has a loss of memory.

She doesn't know what is happening now.

She is in another world.

This is another reason I have to maintain myself,

because I have to look out for a dear friend.

-You know what? -What?

♪ You make me feel so young

I make you feel though spring is sprung?

♪ 'Cause you make me feel

♪ So young

Hey, hey, hey, hoo.

When you're young and you know you get old and decrepit,

you can never understand the feeling

when you suddenly feel-- you who could dance a stomp,

would do the split, who would jump around,

and suddenly you feel handicapped,

you're careful how you walk because you don't want

to fall down and hurt yourself

because then you're in a hospital,

then you can do absolutely nothing.

So sudden, my memory started to leave me,

but I understand that happens to many, many very old people,

and I'm going to be 95,

so you know that's very, very old.

I don't know anybody so old.

I really am visually impaired, so...

and I am legally blind.

Nobody knows that.

Very few people realize that

because I get around.

These are wonderful performers.

Unfortunately, I cannot see who they are.

I wish I could see these faces.

It's never gonna be any better.

It's hereditary, my mother had it.

I didn't know it was hereditary.

It's glaucoma.

My sister, she got it,

and both of them only saw shadows before they passed away.

My mother had a wonderful friend,

may they both rest in peace,

and when you would say, uh,

"How are you today?"

And she said, "Well, to tell you the truth,

everything I have two of, one hurts."

And that's true as you get old.

I tell everybody I'm on a vacation.

I had two major operations and one minor operation.

Since six weeks, I was out of it.

In my whole life, I've had many calls.

My appendix broke in Tibet.

I've had many close calls to death,

but this was the closest.

She was...

in a dream world,

and we're very fortunate

that we didn't lose her this time.

I'm older now,

and it took a big, big toll,

and to think they put a tube down my throat,

and Sandy legally is blind,

and I am crying in bed

and I'm writing him,

and he can't see what I'm writing him.

So it was really disastrous,

and it was about the worst thing.

Six weeks in the hospital,

and now here two weeks.

I went to the hospital on a Sunday,

I think it was November sixth,

that's when it happened, yeah.

And I wasn't gonna go to the hospital.

I had such pain I couldn't believe it,

and I figured, why go to a hospital

on a Saturday or a Sunday?

The doctors are not there,

and it's a marathon, I'll wait.

Until I called a friend of mine up and she says,

"If you die, I'll kill you!"

She says, "Call 911 right now."

So I dialed 911 and it's a good thing,

because they had exploded.

The gallstones exploded.

I could have, you know, died.

I was close to death.

But we--we did make it,

and all...

all's well that ends well.

The day I can put my makeup on that I wear every day

the same way for the last few years,

that's the day I'll feel better.

So I have to have perfume.

I have to-- I have to have things

that are beautiful and wonderful.

Here, smell this, it's the best.

Some woman said to me, "Oh, is this a fashion show?"

So I said, "Yes, it's a fashion show."

I was taking the physical therapy.

I mean, "Is this a fashion show?"

I said yes.

(laughing)

♪ Ooh ooh ooh ooh-ooh

♪ Ooh-ooh-ooh ooh-ooh-ooh ♪

♪ Ooh ooh ooh ooh-ooh

♪ Ooh-ooh-ooh ooh-ooh-ooh ♪

♪ Ooh ooh ooh ooh-ooh

I decided to have a flash mob fashion show in Lincoln Center

during Fashion Week,

and it was this great, great show of women

from 60 to 90,

and what ended up happening

was there was crowds of people who came and surrounded

just to see these gorgeous older women

flaunting their style and their personality.

♪ Forgot the batteries

♪ But that's the old me

I love you!

♪ Out of my windows

♪ Roll down

We are here, we are elders,

we are still attractive,

still, you know, fashionable,

and we're here to make our statement.

I'm not sure if the industry is ready for older models,

but I'm here and I'm looking to go to work.

I am the face of Lanvin.

One of the faces.

No, they chose me as the face of Lanvin.

Oh, okay.

(crowd noise)

Hello folks, how are you doin' today?

I'm making sure everyone leaves.

Okay, yeah, gotta go.

But they're 90 years old and they're blind,

I want to make sure they can walk, and safely.

-All right. -Let's let 'em go.

(siren wailing)

There was some ruckus,

and everybody said that someone had fainted

and been taken out.

And after the show, we asked about it

and we were told that it was who it was

and that she was fine.

They had given her medical attention,

but they were sending her to a hospital

for some evaluation or something.

She subsequently died. It was terrible.

For her, every day was a celebration.

She--I mean, she was 95 and she--

look at how she went out.

I mean, at the fashion show, during Fashion Week,

she was front row at one of the fashion shows

and she had a heart-- she fainted,

and, you know, they rushed her out and she died.

But what a fabulous way to die,

doing exactly what she loved to do

which is be out in public, be where it's happening--

certainly was happening in the tents during Fashion Week--

looking great and being part of the world,

and being part of life.

Better than dying all hooked up

to all sorts of machines in the hospital.

♪ Once in a while, more often than not,

I forget that I forgot that I got all I got ♪

♪ For a good reason, though it may not be much,

it's more than enough ♪

♪ Once in a while, I relax in my seat ♪

♪ I forget what is missing, I kiss fear on the cheek ♪

♪ I feel the light on my back, though it burns with regret ♪

♪ It's more than enough

♪ It's more than enough

♪ It's more than enough

♪ It's more than enough

♪ It's more than enough

There is no time limit to anything.

When you look good, you look good.

Ladies, life gets better.

It's up to you. Don't think about aging.

Just go ahead, look good, and enjoy the moment.

♪ Once in a while, though it's never the plan ♪

It is so lovely knowing you

and being part of your entourage, darling.

♪ To the friend at my window, disguised as an angel ♪

Cheers, to another glorious Advanced Style day.

♪ And when I'm sleepwalking, about to walk off a cliff ♪

♪ Songs sing inside me, reminds me of this ♪

♪ Just don't take darkness for granted ♪

♪ Without it light can't exist ♪

♪ And knowing's more than enough ♪

I have no idea, but it's something--

I don't know if they have a cigar

which they have in the, uh...

in Oriental countries,

because it has moon and stars.

I don't know what it is.

I couldn't find my shoehorn,

so I'm using this.

What's that? Yeah, this was Stan's father's pinky ring,

and so Valentine's Day, he gave it to me

with a wonderful statement,

and just about commitment.

And when I...

I--well, I was a bag of chips that year.

This is my town.

I've taken over Hollywood.

♪ You gotta keep goin'

♪ You gotta keep goin'

♪ You gotta keep goin'

Tell me what's wrong-- yeah, you like it?

You like it, okay.

(laughing)

♪ Someday my happy arms will hold you ♪

♪ And someday

♪ I'll know the moment divine

when all the things you are

are mine ♪♪

Can you imagine if I warmed up, Lynn?

I haven't even warmed up.

Well, enough.

♪ I hear that shoestrings tend to break ♪

♪ But they tie back together great ♪

♪ I feel I know, I know where you're coming from ♪

♪ Notebooks filled with lines

♪ And a clock's filled with good times ♪

♪ I think I know, I know where you're coming from ♪

♪ Oh-ho, I know, I know where you're coming from ♪

♪ I never have enough

♪ And you always have too much ♪

♪ I might just know, I know where you're coming from ♪

♪ Quarters for the wash

♪ All the other coins are tossed ♪

♪ I said I know, I know where you're coming from ♪

♪ Oh-ho, I know, I know where you're coming from ♪

♪ I'm on my feet today

♪ And I'll walk into the grave ♪

♪ I drew this map by hand

♪ Show you how to become a man ♪

♪ I'm on my feet today

♪ And then I'll walk into the grave ♪

♪ I said I, I know where you're coming from ♪

♪ Where you're coming from

♪ We tore the walls out in this old bedroom

of your house to make room for dreams ♪

♪ I know where you're coming from ♪

♪ Years they come and go

♪ But today is here to stay

♪ I said I know, I know where you're coming from ♪

♪ Oh-ho, I know, I know where you're coming from ♪

♪ I'm on my feet today

♪ And I'll walk into the grave ♪

♪ I drew this map by hand

♪ Show you how to become a man ♪

♪ I'm on my feet today

♪ And then I'll walk into the grave ♪

♪ I said I, I know where you're coming from ♪

♪ Where you're coming from

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