On publication of this week’s column, we will be approximately halfway through Fashion Month. Editors, stylists, buyers and celebrities go from New York to London to Milan to Paris, watching fashion shows and attempting to distill the essence of the next season. This happens twice a year, in September and February.
Oh, you didn’t notice? That’s fine. All that means it that the world hasn’t stopped turning for those who didn’t go. Life carries on. Who’d have thunk it?
The four fashion weeks are industry events. They are essentially the most glamourous trade fairs in the world. Traditionally a closed shop, the proliferation of fashion bloggers and street style photographers has now changed the way that anyone who has use of the internet sees the fashion world.
Fashion editors have become fetishised and idolised, thanks in no small part to documentary The September Issue, which explored the inner working of Vogue at the Conde Nast offices in Manhattan. It can be seen as deserved praise, considering the dedication and vision of people who give decades of toil (it’s not coal mining by any stretch of the imagination, but it is hard work) in what used to be an editorially faceless industry.
It’s breakout star, creative director Grace Coddington, is set to publish her memoirs in November while the hardest-working street style photographer going, Bill Cunningham, was also made the subject of an empathetic and touching documentary. The recently released The Eye Has To Travel re-examines the work of sixties Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, who had hopefully now had her place in the creative pantheon sealed.
It is good and right to admire people at the top of their professions – they work hard, they are talented, pragmatic, creative and routinely outrageous (in the fashion industry even staid ordinariness can be considered outrageous).
Street style is a completely different game. It is what it means; stylish people, found on the street. The very ethos of street style denoted its outsider status. That is, until blogging happened and street style came to Fashion Weeks around the globe.
Being a street style star used to mean that you had your own clothes and that you wore them in a way unique to you. Now, many popular bloggers are being paid by designers to wear their goods at shows. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. By becoming celebrities, bloggers become about as relevant as their more famous counterparts: They show up, they get their photo taken, they get paid, they go home. The joy has been sucked out of dressing up.
A lot of people don’t aspire to be famous personal style bloggers because they’re stylish – they want to have their picture taken. They want validation and a moderate level of fame. They want to be adored. This is unfortunate for them, because the majority of personal style bloggers didn’t start out with this aim. They’re at fashion week to see the clothes, not to be seen for the clothes they’re wearing.
If you want to see some real street and fashion week style (plebs as well as fashion figures) by talented photographers, feel free to check out the following – thesartorialist.com, stylebubble.co.uk, stitchesfabricandsoul.com, streetpeeper.com, jakandjil.com and stylesightings.com.