Ilona and I

Ilona and I

>> 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.

Coach and Ari also paired up Leandra Medine of Man Repeller with Lynn Dell and Nadia Sarwar of Frou Frouu with Linda Rodin if you want more generation-gap tete-a-tetes.

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.














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  1. Jana H.

    2013-03-26 at 12:43 PM

    OH! This is a really strong video. Old ladies have that, they don’t care a bit about what other say or think anymore, mostly they don’t think about trends either, and that’s something we should learn from. Colours, styles, different patterns and designs, let’s just live it!!
    I also say that on my blog, I love clothes, don’t care about trends that much. It needs to be fun to!!


    2013-03-26 at 12:52 PM

    I love who Ari has made people look at aging in a different way.At last they are realising that fashion has nothing to do with trends, age, or size.
    So pleased to see you sharing fun time with Ilona.

  3. Joy

    2013-03-26 at 1:57 PM

    I absolutely loved this. Both of you guys are so much fun to watch and be around with.

  4. Maria de la Paz

    2013-03-26 at 2:28 PM

    Great drawings!
    Check out my blog:

  5. jean cave

    2013-03-26 at 4:47 PM

    Statement neckwear, big glasses, marvellous hats . . . way to go.

  6. Marta

    2013-03-26 at 6:48 PM
  7. Valentina Novo

    2013-03-26 at 7:42 PM

    Great post! Advanced style has to be one of my favorite blogs, and Ilona is such an amazing character!

  8. Natasha

    2013-03-26 at 8:02 PM

    I just discovered Advanced Style the other day and these ladies are so cool. What a great opportunity.

  9. mat

    2013-03-26 at 11:29 PM

    that was really sweet, she seems pretty ace

  10. milex

    2013-03-26 at 11:56 PM

    ahh I told you to do some more videos! with me for start 😉

  11. absolutelymrsk

    2013-03-27 at 6:47 AM

    hhahhahhaa yes your fringe is a lot shorter and it changes your face! with a longer fringe, you look more mysterious. anyway, i met her on the streets in new york in the west village! i stepped up to her and start talking to her! my beau had no idea what was going on because he didn’t know the lady. she looked very nice and wise, so glad we have a picture together! oh and i am just 5ft, so meeting her was kind of seeing my future. so glad you ‘teamed up’ with her because i think you are both very colorful and eclectic (minus the eye lashes)

  12. The Provoker

    2013-03-27 at 8:48 AM

    She’s super adorable, I want to have her fun spirit if I ever get to her age (guys don’t live as long….) lol. Her lashes are great, and I love that during the video you both seemed to have a mutual respect for color/print/texture aesthetics from an early age. I love how she tries to dress you up, awwww… Also, I don’t mind the fringe change at all, fun to change it up a bit. Hope you don’t mind me asking a silly question, but have you tried buying those ‘real hair’ fake fringes? Some are really luscious and so if you have a short one, you can just layer on a temp thicker one? Plus I think the real ones are good cause you can bleach or dye or curl them.

  13. Rita Saardi

    2013-03-27 at 10:31 AM

    I loved this, thank you so for sharing, I love your blog it’s one of few blogs I never gave up cause you’re always as consistent and as inspiring as ever…. you will be this lady in 60 years 🙂 cheers love Rita.

  14. susie_bubble

    2013-03-27 at 1:39 PM

    I’d love to try those out as I’ve always wanted to see how I’d look with a bleached out fringe…. ! Will look into that!

  15. sylvia

    2013-03-27 at 2:20 PM

    Love all these videos. Thanks for being such an inspiration Suzie!

  16. Couteau

    2013-03-27 at 4:16 PM

    Ha ha. “It’s important to think of the way you dress as a form of expression”
    Why didn’t they just let you come up with an idea? Both ladies look lovely by the way.

  17. anna

    2013-03-27 at 4:23 PM

    Lovely video and a real lady full of joy :X

  18. WY

    2013-03-27 at 7:43 PM

    Absolutely adorable! You two seem to have hit it off quite well! And her eyelashes are the epitome of fluttery eyelashes. I wonder if she dyed them too.

  19. Winnie

    2013-03-27 at 8:35 PM

    Your dress is divine! Where is it from?

  20. chantal

    2013-03-28 at 4:25 PM

    The artwork is amazing!

  21. daria

    2013-03-28 at 10:47 PM

    this is such a wonderful campaign! I love all the people involved and the pairings are so inspired!

  22. aqeela

    2013-03-28 at 10:51 PM

    I love ilona and ari’s blog has been one of my faves for yonks, was lovely hearing your voice too – you sound much sweeter than i imagined 🙂
    Thank you for sharing,
    Aqeela xx

  23. Luisa Cativo

    2013-04-01 at 1:22 AM

    aww this is adorable! You gals look like you’re having so much fun, she seems delightful 🙂
    I can only hope I can maintain such joie de vivre as I grow old in such a hostile environment.

  24. McKenzie

    2013-04-01 at 10:10 PM

    Wow, this is such a sweet meeting! So much creativity, and love the ideas you were talking about 🙂

  25. Lee

    2013-04-08 at 9:30 PM

    I cannot believe how cute she is! And the eyelashes! Amazing! I wanna be like her!

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