Herds of decadently dressed women flocked out of the runway venue built into the Calvin Klein office building on 39th Street yesterday. The show had just ended and camera lenses were ready to capture the exodus. While grouped together chit-chatting and admiring each others wears, these women looked flawless. I felt quite confident about my Stella McCartney overalls and Brian Atwood exotic skin sandals but when I came face to face with Anna dello Russo, wearing a neon colored Versace sequined mini-dress and Kenzo sunglasses that screamed nothing short of, “cheers to Fashion!” I couldn’t help feel a smell sense of defeat. Her inherent love and enthusiasm for the industry was evident. She looked like a street style photographer’s wet dream come true.
Once off site, I came upon dello Russo one more time. She looked different now. The luxe air about her previous stance had been reduced to an amalgamation of bright sequins standing on the street amid a sea of black suits and while I still admired what was standing before me, the flurry of businessmen rushing to and from lunch must have surmised the circus was coming to midtown.
I remembered the previous Tuesday when while leaving the Rodarte show, I heard a woman note that the pouring in and pouring out of show-goers pre and post shows have arguably become more entertaining than the shows themselves. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this over the course of the week. I wanted to agree.
Per the above and today’s earlier post, chronicling the slew of outfits I wore through the duration of fashion week, I got to thinking about street style and Wednesday’s New York Times article, teased with the sentiment, “New York Fashion Week Street Style is Often a Billboard for Brands,” on the evolution of its photography. The article diminished what was once the purity of street style and reduced it to what can be best described as another industry marketing ploy.
It was a smart read: interesting, informative and conceivably true. It would be foolish to ignore the vast changes percolating through the landscape. Street style isn’t street-centric anymore, it’s a string of calculated outfitting chronicles that often register contrived. And I’m guilty of it too. There are certainly moments when I put something on and either veto or acknowledge it’s power to instigate a photo-snap. This thinking process speaks strongly to the power of the craft.
And when I find myself wearing snap-appropriate garb? There is an undeniable ego-stroking-rush about standing amid a bike lane by Pier 59, clutching my purse and coyly smiling at an army of click-click-clicks, calling my name and asking me to look over.
It’s addictive, really–you just want to get it right over and over again.
Is that the photographer’s fault though? I don’t think so. I’m not even sure I can properly speak to the other side of the camera’s point of view but I will note that I am always impressed by the blunt nature of Scott Schuman’s rhetoric during interviews about the craft. I read on twitter over fashion week a headline that started “why Scott Schuman won’t photograph the people who want to get shot.”
Initially, it seemed a bit cryptic, maybe even pretentious but when I read the Times story in question, his sentiments held new value. Schuman is trying to preserve the art of his trade; using his influence not to accommodate page views with the inundation of familiar faces in off-the-press ready-to-wear but rather shine light on what is left of the “true indie spirit” of fashion. He’s not feeding whatever addiction may resonate with his subjects–it’s one that may unconsciously force them to feel “camera ready,” and this in itself takes the innocence out of street style.
Yes, looks do tend to feel more manufactured these days but fashion’s purpose, even before purity and even before tapping a true indie spirit, is to inspire and to motivate the thinking process. To recognize artistic value in a different medium and to celebrate it. After all, there is something very powerful to be said about the consistent meteoric rise in popularity of the trade.
Ultimately, what I predict in the coming years is one long string of backlashes–toward the internet, toward technology at large, toward fashion and toward the excessively accessible cues of personal style. To some extent, these all go hand-in-hand. The initial inklings on the fashion front are already bleeding through: the common denominator this runway season has been simplicity, wearability and practicality. An aesthetic that for the first time in a long time seems to champion the notion of the familiar bright sequins that so famously beg an overzealous style snap.
What do you think? Please do share in the comments below.
Above image via Style and The City