If you recently attended any Fashion Week anywhere around the world, you’ll have noticed an increasing number of dressed up fashion bloggers and street style stars standing around outside the shows just so they can be photographed. As a result of the proliferation of fashion blogs and fashion editors’ annoyance regarding the hysterical commotion outside the shows, Garage magazine has created a short documentary that insightfully discusses the rise of these "peacocking" street style stars. Directed by Dasha Zhukova and Andinh Ha, ‘Take my Picture’ fittingly follows renowned fashion editor Suzy Menkes’ well publicised frustration in her article ''The Circus of Fashion'' for ‘T’ - the New York Times Style Magazine - which generated a series of responses from popular fashion bloggers Leandra Medine of Man Repeller and Susie Lau of Style Bubble.
So the question within the fashion circles now is: have fashion bloggers actually gone too far?
Video © GARAGE Magazine
It’s no secret that the fashion world has radically changed. As the inevitable by-product of our internet-centred times, the street style fashion blog has penetrated the fashion industry, becoming the medium via which anyone can offer their stylistic contribution to the world. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is certainly something more approachable about street style blogs as opposed to glossy editorial photo shoots. Seemingly candid and spontaneous, the pictures they feature depict fashion and style within an everyday urban life setting. As a result, people are responding somewhat more positively to the more accessible portrayal of designer items that are worn on the very streets that they too walk along every day. No longer the realm of established fashion editors, this approach to presenting fashion trends is undoubtedly a more democratic and egalitarian. Now anyone can become a fashion editor via their blog. And if they play their cards right, can stylistically influence a huge following whilst establishing a name for themselves and enjoy the perks that come with their new found power.
However, from the fashion bloggers that are becoming a big part of the fashion world, two types have emerged. Just as there are two types of celebrities, there are bloggers who are famous for their work and there are bloggers who are famous just for being famous. There are bloggers who actually know their craft and offer insightful criticism. Then there are the others. What this film sets out to question is the motives of the latter.
Looking at the frenetic mayhem that surrounds Fashion Week venues, one cannot help but wonder about the sheer number of fashion bloggers who turn up since inevitably most of them will not be admitted to the invite-only shows. It would be noble to think that this is due to their sheer love of fashion. However, in reality it appears that some of them are more interested in their own image than supporting the designer showing his/her collections inside. They dress up in eccentric ‘look-at-me’ outfits and shamelessly flirt with the cameras in order to attract and turn the photographers’ lenses in their direction. They want to be seen - which they show through proudly uploading their pictures or flaunting items that designers may or may not have given them, going so far as to fake freebies in order to fabricate a pseudo-VIP status that will distinguish them from their peers. More interested in claiming a faux-celebrity status, fashion itself fades into the background.
Although aspirations of fame and VANITY are admittedly not new concepts, we now live in a world where everything is on public display at any given moment. Frighteningly this is not because we are obliged to do so but rather because we actually want and choose to do so. Everybody is on Facebook, uses Twitter, filters images through Instagram or documents their lives in a blog. And for a fashion blogger there is no event more rife with photo opportunities to share than Fashion Week. With New York Fashion Week attracting 232,000 out of town visitors in 2012, it’s as if the shows are becoming a tourist attraction in their own right, albeit a rather odd one where instead of taking pictures of the sights, one now strives to become the sight to be photographed. Admittedly, fashion is a medium which ardently favours the visual, but what happens when what was once a spectacle to witness and behold is turned on its head and becomes an opportunity to be seen?
In our image-driven society maybe we should not be discussing the concept of seeing, but capturing. The camera lens has replaced our eyes and sight where the image captured has become our object of affection. An appropriately snapped picture becomes the validation of who we are and what we have achieved. And in a time when snapping, uploading and sharing the latest style icon or trend can be done so easily, the image of a blogger outside a hot-ticket show becomes the medium that will ensure recognition for his/her blog. In the same vein, Anna dello Russo’s arrival at the Lincoln Center becomes the new ‘must-snap’ sight for any street style photographer’s blog. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. However in-between supposedly spontaneous stylized posing and obsessively repetitive snapping, what is a picture like that actually worth? When everyone is capturing the same people wearing the same clothes posing outside the same events, what is original? Is there any purpose to all the replicated photographic material that they create? Maybe, one could argue, it’s not about being original. Maybe it’s simply about being there. And showing it in the best way you can. Reblogged and retweeted, widely viewed and extensively commented on, the street style picture acts as an authenticating agent of your very own personal Fashion Week experience, whereby one can establish a name for one’s blog.
In what is a relatively new profession, the rules for successful fashion bloggers are still being written. So maybe fashion editors should just let the bloggers create as they please so that they can find their own voice. At the end of the day, time itself will judge who will be strong enough to rise above the endless chaos of neon-wearing posers and pseudo-VIP charlatans.