>> I emerged from a cosy West Village apartment in New York, in minus 5 weather back in January, bare-legged but skipping because I had had the honour and pleasure of meeting and working with Ilona Royce Smithkin, better known as one of Ari Cohen’s tenacious and colourful characters on his Advanced Style blog. She’s also an artist, a performer and all-round living proof that joie de vivre (or some such cheesy phrase) flourishes rather than withers with age and experience. Coach in collaboration with Advanced Style paired three of Cohen’s “ladies” with a younger generation of bloggers to get together to chat about life, style and creativity and they’ve been cut into some short videos series of “Generation of Style”. I was lucky enough to be paired with the lovely Ilona, who at 93 is inspiration enough that, “toning” it down as you get old for fear of ridicule, is conventional tosh that can be thrown out of the window. Ilona approaches her body as she does with her canvases, brushstroking herself with swathes of colour, fluttering up her immaculately hand-made eyelashes (from her own hair) with an ongoing belief that drawing mermaids and shimmying around with feather boas (she has quite the collection of boa action) will make the world a better place. From our one hour meeting sitting inside her miniscule but awe-inspiring cubby-hole apartment, I left with a beautiful drawing of my eye and a re-affirmed belief that I can venture towards my future decades without trepidation. ”Dressing your age” is a meaningless phrase that I won’t be toying with. Hopefully a recurrent visit to Ilona’s world will reaffirm that.
P.S. I had a bit of an overenthusiastic fringe trim for the shoot with some interesting eye-contouring, so apologies if I’m freaking you out with my vaguely 1920s Shanghai cigarette ad look.