Today’s trend: THE 60s
Both from Urban Outfitters Home & Gifts
Washi Tape found on Ebay
Blogs are an instance that may exemplify the shifting mode of the alternative fashion press. They are its new medium. From the page of the print magazine to the Internet forum, side stepping the photographic print in favour of posting digital photographs online leads us towards a greater degree of amateur activity.
Fashion photography has become available to anyone, from professional models and photographers, to (maybe-not-so) amateur photographers and “real people”.
Seeberger Brothers Photography Almost a century prior to The Sartorialist, Scott Schuman, around 1909, the Séeberger brothers photographed a nearly identical group of people as the ones that crave street style photographers’ attention, in a similar manner, setting their subjects within small crowds or against tree-lined avenues. In retrospect, fashion week can be very much and very accurately compared to the Séeberger brothers’ visits to the racetracks and later the seaside and mountain resorts, which were not only anticipated, but highly organised events. Professional models were hired by fashion designers eager to display their latest designs. Fashionable socialites also acted as models, wearing designer clothing either on loan or purchased at a significant discount in exchange for which they had to be recognizable by photographers, and preferably by the readers of fashion magazines, wearing the outfit well and being clearly visible. Our time’s fashion bloggers, I suppose.
But let’s cut the history lesson short and fast forward to American street style’s boom. It emerged at the same time that Bill Cunningham got a camera. We all know and even maybe have a little crush on the humble octogenarian street photographer. The revered street-style photographer is very different from what we are used to nowadays. For him, fashion should not be perceived as a frivolity, but rather as an armour against the reality of everyday life. The best thing about Cunningham is undoubtedly his priorities and beliefs. He is fully aware of cultural hierarchy, but for him, it’s not about the celebrities, it’s about the clothes. Just as well, it was never about the money for Bill – “See, if you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do. That’s the key to the whole thing!” he laughs-, but rather his love for street style.
Bill Cunningham is highly respected by the most important people in the fashion industry. Anna Wintour has admitted without any shame at many occasions that everyone gets dressed for Bill. “He has been documenting me since I was a kid, and it’s one snap, two snaps or he just ignores you, which is death”, she adds.
And this is a clear sign of how street style photography has evolved to become what it is now. And probably why Suzy Menkes has strongly voiced her discontent towards the whole blogger vs. street style photographers’ ratio. It is rather upsetting to see how theatrical people think they need to be in order to be noticed. In Menkes’ article “The Circus of Fashion”, she mentions the over-exaggeration of the importance of having one’s picture taken and how “subjects are ready and willing to be objects, not so much hunted down by the paparazzi as gagging for their attention.”
It is sad to see that fashion has become mostly about peacocking, especially when looking retrospectively at the individuality of, for instance, English street looks throughout the years. The street has always been an integral site for fashion; one’s public appearance, the necessity to distinguish class and profession, the desire to be viewed and to view others, all feeding into fashion’s social function.
This was fully apparent throughout the second half of the twentieth century, from the Teddy Boys who were the first rebels against class distinction through clothing, to the Mods, whose aspirations were as high as their hemlines, to the punks who broke every rule of fashion. They were all magnificent in their toned down individuality and above all, they dressed for themselves.
On the other hand, we now erect a mini studio outside the Chanel Show in Paris Fashion Week, complete with a reflector and a white background, where all the photographers can get the exact same shot, just to say they got a shot. Where is the authenticity? The originality? Nada. One might even say it just reeks desperation, which is sad considering that street style is such a beautiful thing, that people like Bill Cunningham have transformed into a sort of exuberant and sociological tract of fashion. Celebrity or not, Paris fashion week or just another day, he provided a fashion platform that could be attained by anyone.
Other renowned street photographers, like the world famous Sartorialist does not so much ramble the streets on a daily basis, as attend fashion events, but the idea that he might be there encourages the reader’s fantasy that they might one day be spotted by him, which makes it less genuine, one could say…
While several street photographers have been known to operate at a distance from their subjects, unseen and thus able to catch people in moments where they are not conscious that they are being observed, some others like Scott Schuman ask their subjects to pose in a spot that holds the most interest or the best light, after asking for their consent. He then asks them to assume a “normal street function” such as crossing the road, smoking a cigarette or just typically gaze directly into the lens. The Sartorialist’s subjects have then assumed their role of “model” in a fashion photograph and this is how we come to view them. As well as “ordinary people”, he photographs designers, editors, stylists, other photographers and models.
His use of “regular people” suggests an element of so called straight reportage. However, given the rather esteemed group who regularly populates Schuman’s images, one would certainly expect that these people take very good care of their appearances as a part of their jobs, and that his fashion blog is not a deviation from the hierarchies and codes of fashion. There are no overweight, disabled, unattractive people represented on his blog, non are “everyday fashions”.
The blogs themselves continue to replicate the narrative mode of fashion journalism cleverly disguised as a subjective or confessional narrative and couched within the familiar rhetoric of “style”, which is intended to get rid of a hierarchically superior notion of “clothing as a personal expression” rather than being a victimized follower of fashion. This, once again, poses the major question of individuality.
Which now brings us to the product placement issue. In the midst of New York Fashion Week’s street style parade, the New York Times took a look at how the phenomenon has evolved. Once a destination for fresh, independent style inspiration, the paper is reporting street style photos are now riddled with product placement. Just like with the Séeberger brothers, the public is now used as advertisement, as the “style influencers” are supposed to say “who they are wearing”. The point the Times seems to be making is that street style isn’t “pure” anymore. The word “pure” fits rather nicely regarding the matter at hand as fashion was always a way of self-expression. Where is the self-expression in wearing what you are asked to wear (maybe even for a fee)? It has certainly become more about orchestration than self-expression.
Street style is no longer about authentic individual style but rather has become a parade of famous faces and ‘It’ items. Nowhere is this more evident than during fashion week. People flock to the shows with the hope that they’ll get photographed. They strut their stuff, pose while looking at their phone and wait for the desperate lenses to descend. The only problem is this has all become a bit “fake”. It’s no longer about a person’s style but more about whether they have the right mix of designer items.
On the other side of the spectrum, the “Mad about the girl” talk at the Vogue Festival 2013 with Anna Dello Russo, Garance Doré and Susie Bubble shines a bright light on the new way of sharing fashion through blogs and street style photography. “I wanted to communicate fashion as an experience, a joy, an emotional thing”, says Susie Bubble whilst talking about her blog, “It’s about taking fashion down a notch and showing people that its not an intimidating thing”. Anna Dello Russo (dressed in top to toe Yves Saint Laurent) is just fascinated by what street style has turned fashion into. She admits that, at first, she was actually intimidated about a young girl coming over to her and asking for her picture; for her the whole phenomenon was fresh, new and daring, a “new way to look, describe, enjoy fashion”. “I want to give a message to enjoy fashion – don’t be stuck in one position, enjoy being 20 people”, she ads, “nobody cares about my face, they just want to look”. It’s a way of immortalizing the clothes, not her. As for Mademoiselle Doré, she, very humbly, says “I’ve never thought of myself as a street style photographer – it’s more a personal diary. I try to make people to look beautiful, I really care about the people and become friends with many of them”.
These three beautiful women bring back the image of a better, more genuine kind of street style photography. The all agree on the fact that the phenomenon is way more relatable than looking at a model. It’s more personal, more allocated to the streets. Garance Doré does say openly that she doesn’t necessarily photograph the woman on the street dressed in brands from her head to her feet, but searches for a woman that “makes her dream, that are fresh and natural”.
Anna Dello Russo: “Now it’s all about street style”
Susie Bubble: “ It has become an industry in itself”
Garance Doré: “Everything is shifting. Shows are too calculated. It’s not what the readers want exclusively”
This is the world we currently live in, where appearances are everything, where getting your 15 minutes of fame means more than anything. But is this really the future of street style? Or will it slowly follow back in the footsteps of Cunningham? Are Dello Russo, Doré and Susie Bubble slowly showing us the way to shift towards – or back towards? On that note, let’s all rejoice in the hopeful words of this great man: “There is no reason to be doom and gloom and think that fashion is finished. Fashion shows are definitely on the streets, always have been and always will be.”
We’ve all been so excited about the Little Black Jacket Photography Exhibit for a while now. It’s been held in Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong and London, among other cities, and is now making it’s way to Dubai. So if you happen to be there at any point between the 27th of April and the 11th of May, make sure to go check out the travelling photos.
Over 100 black and white photographs taken by Karl Lagerfeld of his favorite muses wearing the iconic jacket, designed by Coco Chanel over 50 years ago, are showcased and include the likes of Anna Wintour, Sarah Jessica Parker, Daphne Guiness, Georgia May Jagger among many other.
Here is a video of the making of, along with a few of the magnificent pictures taken by Chanel’s head designer and creative director.
People try to put us down
Just because we get around
Things they do look awful cold
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
This is the poster that started all these shenanigans. Let me tell you the story of my first style post.
I’m starting small with my first style post, because let’s be honest, it’s a bit intimidating, and I don’t do well with posing and all that. It is funny that it took me so long to actually decide to take a bloody picture, but with all the fashion blogs I’ve been reading, I figured it was time. Who are we kidding, these days, it’s not about the written word anymore. A fashion blog relies mostly on personal style, so here it is. Pretty conservative and toned down, but it’s my first time, so no judgement!
This all started in a music studio in Manchester. My boyfriend had just received a The Who original vinyl with a vintage poster included. For the record, he’s been collecting vinyls since we got to England, as if his life depended on it, but this one was a little gem (among others – I wouldn’t want to upset The Beatles and Frank Zappa).
Anyway, side note aside, it all started with a little Vine clip that I took for some fun – I’ve been absolutely obsessed with this App! And then it hit me: it’s time. I got my brand new Facet Petal Dorothy Perkins necklace and put it over this simple cashmere sweater I stumbled upon at the heavenly invention that is TKMAXX, and took out my camera and I did it. It took about 50 picture to get these not so perfect pictures, but it bodes well with the whole Mod feeling of The Who. I guess that’s a mini win in my book!
I’ll get some better ones next time… Promise!
Vivienne Westwood impersonated Margaret Thatcher for a portrait during the time she was in power, wearing a suit Thatcher had ordered from Aquascutum but never picked up. The subversive image ran as Tatler’s April 1989 cover and was blown up on billboards during London fashion week. Emma Soames, Tatler’s editor got the sack days later. “Margaret Thatcher was a hypocrite. That’s what I put in my head. I thought there’s the child in the hospital bed and there’s the TV camera. I’m going to show the world how much I care,” Westwood says, speaking on her Active Resistance blog. – Extract taken from DazedDigital
Personal note on the event of Margaret Thatcher’s passing:
For all the people who can rejoice in someone’s death, I think it is just not right. For everything that a person will do throughout their life, bad and good, one should never enojy someone’s death. Thatcher made major mistakes, mistakes that may have cost the UK quite a lot, but she was a wife, a mother, a human being. There is no need for all the hatred. It is time we start respecting one’s life, if not during their existence, but at least in their passing.
Today’s trend: TAN
These five pictures were taken from one of my personal favourite Interior Design blogs, created by my good friend Valerie. Please check out her lovely blog here.
Bird paper clip – Anthropology
Marilyn Manson was the focus of my previous Saint Laurent article, but here are more pictures of the unconventional photographic series of the brand, where Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson, Kim gordon and Ariel Pink style themselves.
*These pictures were taken from the Dazed and Confused website. To read full article click here
So Hedi Slimane is pulling out all the stops. After dropping the Yves and changing the house’s logo, he now hires the most surprising face to represent Saint Laurent’s mens collection.
I honestly always liked Marilyn Manson. I went through a phase. I loved his music, and as an annoying teenager, I could relate to him. I am over it now, but I still think he’s one cool lad. So the surprise for me is mostly from the controversial and aesthetic side of things.
Remember when people tried to pin the cause of youth violence on Marilyn Manson? That was funny! I remember my mother finding his CD in my school bag and going mad, trying to “forbid me” to listen to it (8 years later, I am still not a mass murderer). So …. Is this a joint effort to kind of clean up his reputation? Or is it purely trying to shock the public? It could even be seen as a major gamble as it could also be borderline tarnishing to the image of Saint Laurent. In this day and age though, is it classed as something really surprising or just another attempt to stand out as a designer? After Chanel started being a bit more grungy, and going rock and edgy, more designers started going there, just to appeal to a younger public, but is Marilyn Manson a step too far?
I don’t think that it is just a bad decision. It is a way of showing that Saint Laurent’s designs are unlimited. In my eyes they’ve taken a radical and rebellious step, a complete 180 from what the house is all about, which is pure class, and turning it into some sort of decadent high fashion, utilizing one of the most controversial celebrities in the world.
But is Slimane making the right move for the brand? He might not be, but the effort is admirable.
F****ing Marilyn Manson as the face of Saint Laurent. Who the f*** saw that coming? Let’s just wait and see what comes of this one…