Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ari Seth Cohen & Advanced Style

After waiting for what seems like an eternity for my copy of Advanced Style to arrive, you can imagine my excitement when the mail carrier rang my bell this morning...signaling that there was either something to sign (ugh!) or a package that was too big for the mailbox. lucky was a box from Amazon! Based on it's size, I knew it had to be the long awaited Advanced Style.

Wanting to rip the carton open on the front porch, the responsible side of my personality (aka my Capricorn rising) quieted the overzealous side (aka my Sagittarius sun), by reminding it that jewelry orders had to be processed, wrapped and shipped before the usual 2:00 p.m. mail pick up. Yes, I know, I sound a bit like Sybil; and honestly, there are many times that I feel like her too, but that's best saved for another entry! So, worker bee that I am, I tossed the carton on the chair in the studio and set about doing the things that I do every morning.

Finally -- the time had come -- I settled in to enjoy the long-anticipated book. I think by now, you probably know that I am a "real book" person -- while I own an iPad, I do not read "books" on it (can I even do that with an iPad?). In my mind, there is nothing like the scent of a book -- real paper and real ink. To this day, whenever I am lucky enough to walk into a book store, just inside the door, I always stop and take a deep breath. Nirvana of sorts -- nothing will ever take the place of that sensory experience. I suppose the makers of Kindle and Nook could create a reader that emits the smell of paper and ink -- but, honestly, I don't think that would do it for me.

But, back to Advanced Style. While I have been "communicating" with Ari Seth Cohen via Twitter over the months, sharing his images and stories of many of the women included in his book, I was not prepared for the feelings I had today while absorbing image after image of these beautiful women. You see, I fall into that "women over 60" category...and since leaving my life in New York City, I have been somewhat isolated from a world that is extremely creative; a world in which I could and would dress a bit differently than many women. A world that allowed me freedom of style. A world that made it possible for me to just be me.

Looking at the women in Ari Seth's work, the most striking thing I noticed was the expression in the women's eyes, the smiles on their faces, the strong sense of joy and their incredibly enlightened spirits. These are women who have lived full and long lives -- they have interesting stories to tell and experiences to share with the world. And, for all too long, they...we...have been invisible. In a recent entry, I shared my thoughts on my life in the 60s and on it's much harder than I had anticipated; but as I said, I am happy for the opportunity to do so. We're not all so lucky in life. But until looking through Advanced Style this afternoon, I hadn't thought much about exactly how I've changed in the last few years, other than a few more wrinkles and skin that isn't quite what it was several years ago. Today it hit me...the most evident change is in my style...while always a bit tomboyish and tailored...I loved that I would put my spin on a pair of beaded moccasins or adopt a 50s vintage man's sport coat and make it mine in some small quirky way. Today, I realized that I pretty much get up every day, put on some version of the same jeans and sweater or t-neck top -- the only thing left of my "style" is my jewelry. From the time I was a little girl, I have always loved jewelry.  However, this afternoon it became apparent why jewelry has become exceedingly important to me over the last few years. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with the biz of jewelry -- well, that isn't quite true -- as I am always concerned with the business; but jewelry's importance is a reminder of what I was...before I became what I am. Somehow, I feel as if I've lost the part of me that loves style -- not trends...but real personal style. Does that make sense?

So, without getting too maudlin about it all, I want to thank Ari Seth for putting so much time and energy into his mission and give special thanks to the women he included in his work. It all exceeded my expectations. Ari Seth, I am extremely grateful that we "met" and equally grateful that you created a project that has such a profound and unexpected effect on me...a project that reawakened a sense in me that, without Advanced Style, may have been lost forever.