I read that Dasha Zhukova had framed the new issue of GARAGE Magazine (Ms. Zhukova is the editor)* around the theme of New Fashion and personality in a recent Man Repeller post and promptly decided I would buy the issue. I still haven’t. Though, the ideas mentioned in her Editor’s Letter struck a chord with the the ideas and article basis for this post, and I kept an eye out for any interesting related that may pop up. What was really uncanny but today while doing the bl0g trope, I stumbled onto this mini-documentary, entitled ‘Take My Picture’ , premiered by style.com from GARAGE Magazine. They have given us online, and traditional, fashion denizens a 9 minute video that I really must pour over. It mentions many of the ideas in the original Menkes article but obviously preceded it as was shot, in what appears to be the SS13 season September into October over the 4 fashion capitals. It was weird because just the day before I, rather stupidly, commented with The Cool Customer:
I would like to see if someone working in the industry (non-blogger) has a view on the article but haven’t found yet. Probably to scared to question the might of Suzy!
They’re not, and nor should they be. Tim Blanks, next to Suzy as my favourite fashion critic, had a starring role in the video, providing a lot of commentary that I really have to discuss. Some of the quotes made me laugh out loud, both in amusement and recognition of what he, and all who featured in it, were talking about.
This video really made me realise what the fashion editors mean when they talk of a commotion. As Phil Oh (his face!) says, ‘it’s like trench warfare’. People swarming, hounding the well-dressed and following them in the street, taking photos of them crossing the street, Tim Blanks fearing that they will get run over. He made some excellent points on the state of fashion at the moment, calling in his experience of fashion providing and glamour and ultimately escape from the banalities of life. But now the banality, or glamour, of life is the new escapism. A screen is not enough, nor is a report or maybe even this documentary as I feel kinda spurned to see the ‘eeking’ (harsh, much?) mass myself. I think the new democracy in fashion is creating this sort of cycle of admiration, participation and then resentment as people take part in the ‘hysteria’ and see its denouncement by the fashion pros and so jump onto their bandwagon. Others, Susie, are more sympathetic and I agree with her viewpoint, taking a middle stance towards the state of the streetstyle scene in 2013.
Tim made a point that stood out at the start (may I add that GARAGE have edited and narrated this documentary excellently leaving a lot to interpret) saying, ‘What use is there for all this information; is there something I don’t know?’, the trend of thought of which continued and came to a neat conclusion of the scene becoming a parody of itself and a mirror of reality TV. I was thinking this while watching the second Black Mirror episode, which scared the shit out of me, of what this new technology we have so readily embraced is and could be used for. I drew some parallels with the fashion industry in that the fashpaps are going after their subjects with might and scary determination. Is it really doing good? Just think. It may be nice to look at but what does it say of us now and to those in the future who will look back at the past to find a extensive archive of trend, style and designers? SPOILER ALERT. The ending of that episode was revelatory and shook me to the core, as what we thought was good was utterly unfair, horrible and disgusting to the perpetrator of the White Bear crime. She became the victim.
Not nearly as strongly, the off-runway scene is getting closer to this and may even be there already. Vika Gazinskaya, whose designs I love for their irreverence and playfulness, proudly said that the photographers and bloggers are willing to advertise clothing. In basic terms, this is opportunism. She sees a market and capitalises on it, and why not? She is an independent designer who needs exposure for sales and this has worked very well, for if it hadn’t she would not have been expressing superlatives. The new hustlers in fashion are here to make their mark. Some who don’t really need to, ADR, are mostly there to attract attention in her. Again it’s fun, why not?
Tim Blanks’ interpretation of this is more sinister and in line with my ideas (not-so humblebrag), back to the reality TV idea that fashion’s in its own bubble and it is about to burst. Nothing and everything reflects the times any more and that’s what is so bad. All is focused on making a representation of yourself. There are no true genuine ‘characters’ in online fashion like traditional publishing has seen Diana Vreeland and Grace Coddington any more. Famous for their personalities but not their clothes. The actual person has been forgotten in the fashpaps photographers, like Phil Oh said ‘I look at photos from 2007/8 and remember talking to people and building a rapport, but now it’s like trench warfare’ . The original spirit of Bill Cunningham, who photographs REAL, NON -FASHION, people is, and I hate to say it, being lost behind the Prada coat, or in ADR’s case the Chanel clutch. Of this Tim states (I’m paraphrasing):
Like everything, every movement or leap forward, before the best benefits are felt, makes monsters not Gods.
…As more people become too self-righteous and forget where they came from, that’s what I feel he is talking about (but then again couldn’t that be said of many fashion pros?). When Tommy said, “People who dress up to get photographed will not get photographed by the right people”, I would have liked to agree with the first part of what he said but it’s hypocritical because Ulyana Sergeenko and those in new season garb frequently appear on Jak&Jil (save Ursina Gysi). The rest of which I thought ‘Excuse Me, the ‘right’ people?’ Are you presuming yourself as just that? Susie, sharp as a fucking tack, says “Well that’s rather an elitist view; who are the ‘right’ people?”
Aside from putting him in his place, this questioning sums up what I think is needed to get the scene to a better purpose. Those who fashpap should ask themselves every time they take a photo, what am I doing? They may only be starting to realise but their lenses legitimise many hopes and dreams, and are more powerful as a medium. If they all ignore ADR (not that they should), what can she do? Hire 100 photographers?
The best designers question notions of right and wrong every season. Fashion needs interrogation to keep its creative juices flowing
The same people in the same suits and dresses are not questioning a thing in their outfits but in doing this, probe what is most valued in fashion today to all of us. What a paradox the world continues to be.
*Shala Monroque is its creative director and over whom I have a crush, she’s so beautiful and stylish, and hopefully nice… just look:
UPDATE (21:25): I have now bought Issue 4 of GARAGE Magazine and it’s great so you should go buy it too. It also continues the presentation of the themes discussed in ‘Take My Picture’.