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Debra Rapoport, 75, New York

Fashion icon to all ages, Debra Rapaport is a native New Yorker creating beautiful and unique hats and accessories from recycled materials. Her passion for design, coupled with her desire for sustainability within the industry, saw her become the star of Ari Seth Cohen’s blog, book and documentary, Advanced Style. All this after she had turned sixty!

Age has nothing to do with style. Debra’s creations have proven to be timeless. She credits her ability to stay current to the method she has used for the last 55 years. “I call it my A/B/Cs… Assembling, Building and Constructing.” This process keeps her fresh, engaged and curious, which in turn keep her designs relevant to all her admirers.

Photo by @sabaphotography

When asked, Debra’s advice to anyone struggling with ageing is that it is not actually about getting older, it’s about being true to yourself. “Our culture encourages us to repress it” so she encourages you to let go of the pressure, fear and judgement, and simply “trust your intuition”. Although the advertising industry believes that youth sells, she believes "maturity and wisdom far outweighs that, and energy and beauty come through, especially if you can tap into it and trust that who you are is right for you.”

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Like others, Debra feels that after 50 comes a greater sense of independence and self-confidence. The freedom to actually pursue a new reality – “do whatever and go wherever I’ve dreamed”. Debra has always loved wearing makeup and dressing up – making wearable forms and accessories - since the age of three, and now professionally for the last 55 years. Invisibility was never an issue for her, and her increased confidence to continue dressing the way she always has, not only gives her pleasure, but also increases her visibility. In fact, after meeting Ari Seth Cohen at the age of 62, she had the courage to get even “a little more outrageous.” “That gave me more visibility to really “strut my stuff”!” “You’re never too old to dress up because it gives you pleasure, visibility and expresses your creativity”.

Photo by @susielang

Debra believes that a healthy lifestyle is part of the “artistic aesthetic attitude”. After all, “food is color and color is energy. We must embrace it, eat with gusto and enjoy every bite you take”. Her healthy lifestyle also involves exercise and connection with friends (many of whom are younger), so she is also inspired and excited to create a community of like-minded people where age is irrelevant. She encourages her younger fans to follow the example of older people in her community who simply enjoy being alive. She believes they all "have much to share and exchange.” “Their skills and talents” “as well as life lessons and confidence.”

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Debra’s amazing hats have caught the world’s eye, but it is the way she lives her life that will capture our hearts. In her own words… “I don’t have a bucket list and I’m not FOMO, so I don’t feel like I have to live my life by anybody else’s standards.” “I like creating my art which is what my life is about.” “I like to cook; I like to entertain, and I love to invite people over to continue to build community.”

Photo by @advancedstyle

Debra has been actively engaging with her community on Instagram for about five years. Check her account for a dose of color and design @debrarapoport

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