This week, the fashion global excitement is ending with the Paris Fashion Week,on since last Wednesday. Fashion Weeks are always a dramatic frivolous moment in the city, whether you are part or not of the scene. I got the chance to attend three shows this year, Guy Laroche, Leonard and Atsuro Tayama, but I’m not intending to write about these shows today but rather about what was happening around these shows.
Street-style photography and its consequences on the crowds is not new and I’m starting off an old debate but I must admit I was quite amazed by the increasing and gigantic ‘Look at me’ game that was taking place in the streets and more particularly around popular show locations. Dressing up and posing during Fashion Weeks seems to have become a full-time business for some individuals: pre and post shows have become much more entertaining than the shows themselves! There is an incredible number of photographers, amateurs, professionals…craving to immortalise The Look. But that’s where I don’t quite get it! What is The Look? The most eccentric calculated allure, the costume-like outfit or the authentic, personal style?
The street-style phenomenon takes place all year long within various formats: bloggers showing off their outfits (I am a blogger myself and I must confess, I also do this from time to time), street-stylers discovering alluring individuals, magazines taking over the popular concept (business is never too far!), ads using the street-style aesthetic. However, Fashion Weeks are certainly the peak of the spectacle and open the way to a true ‘Cour des Miracles’ (court of miracles), as we like to say ironically in French. The urban environment is saturated by peacock-like individuals with one ultimate goal: to be street-styled and gain a flying celebrity moment. I don’t say that all the eccentric and original persons are impostors but that is the problem with this whole entertainment process: it has become difficult to distinguish sincere and authentic approaches from artificial wannabe postures.
Has street-style really remained a street phenomenon? I’m not quite sure about that. Most blogs present photographies of the same glamorous it-girls and fashion editors that wear brands that most of us could never afford to buy. I, for example, really appreciate Garance Doré‘s blog but she always seem to expose women that are everything but ‘from the street’.
I, of course, dress up properly and make an effort when I go to a show. I feel lucky to be invited to such a glamorous event and honour the moment with an elegant outfit, just as I would do for any other ‘formal’ event. However, I definitely don’t overdress or wear an outfit that has nothing to do with my personal style just for the sake of being part of this Circus of Fashion as Suzy Menkes has named it in her controversial February 2013 article. Isn’t being ourselves, the ultimate fashion motto?
Hopefully, street-style photography also has its positive aspects. The phenomenon has democratized fashion and more particularly fashion shows: not everyone can enter the show (well, you can, more and more, since brands have now decided to broadcast live their events on the web: lucky us!) but everyone can be part of the excitement, the energy and enjoy the moment. Fashion should not be taken too seriously and I love the idea that we can all have fun with the way we dress and the business of fashion, but once again, let’s keep it real!
Moreover, some bloggers have turned street-style photographies into art and still manage to pick out a genuine personality: a clothing detail, a cute haircut, a stunning smile…Like him or not, I remain a huge fan of The Sartorialist who always seduces me with his elegant snapshots. And what about Bill Cunningham? A street-style veteran!
I think street-styling is just like everything in life, it has its good and bad sides. It can be excessive but also highly seductive. How wonderful for us fashion and image lovers to be able to rely on real people with great style and taste within real-life landscapes…It is up to us to sort out the worthy examples from the superfluous (not easy!).
I don’t mind that the show now not only takes place on the catwalk but also happens in the streets: I truly found this fantastic. It just shouldn’t take over and, I am insisting but it is really important to me, remain authentic! Fashion shows are marvellous instants that demand so much hard work and energy: let us remember who makes the show during Fashion Week!
I don’t know whether I’ll be street-styled (it has already happened to me quite a few times already) before the Fashion Week ends and I must say: why not? My ego will appreciate it! However, I know I may launch a trend! I got an adorable puppy for my 30th birthday last week so to me the ultimate actual fashion accessory is a straw basket in which I carry him everywhere along with me: the cute-effect might win over the wow-effect!
And you? Do you love or loathe the street-style experience? Do you find these photographies useful as a researcher? If yes, how do you use them?
I suggest you take a look at this great short film Garage Magazine has produced about the phenomenon: Take My Picture