There was a time, roughly six years ago, when street-style was an up-and-coming trend – one we weren’t really sure would stick around. Instead of models, stylists and designers, we were looking to real people, photographed by the likes of Scott Schuman, Phil Oh and Vanessa Jackman, for inspiration on how to dress ourselves. (Pic (and yes, those are shorts) via Grazia.it)
But alongside the rise of the street-style photographer was the rise of the street-style star, documented perfectly by Suzy Menkes in last week’s New York Times. Instead of seeing photographs of regular people, caught in the act of being stylish, we’re instead presented with photographs of people who have dressed up with the very intention of being papped by those very street-style photographers. And where does this leave us? Well, it leaves us in a kind of parallel universe, where fashion bloggers like Eleonora Carisi go to lunch dressed like this.
Yes, those are her nipples. That is Park Avenue, and Eleonora is, according to Mr Newton, who took this photograph, just finished having lunch with a friend. While a (large) part of me is glad that fashion allows people to make brave fashion statements, another (perhaps larger) part of me thinks that some fashion decisions are made specifically in order to court controversy, or the fashion paps, or both.
Take these lovely ladies, photographed by Candice Lake for Vogue. They’re all wearing the type of things I frequently buy – usually online – and, once I get them home and try them on, they are swiftly dispatched back from whence they came. Those yellow trousers, for example, may make an excellent shape in a photograph, but look beyond bizarre. And those black trousers (centre) just don’t fit. The fur jacket on the right is interesting, but swamps poor Aline Weber (who is, granted, a model and perhaps doesn’t worry about being made look like a yeti in quite the same way I do).
Another aspect of street-style photography that worries me – and yes, I sound like your granny – is that, in years to come, we will no longer be able to date photographs by looking at the clothing. Take these shots from Face Hunter; would you be surprised to be told they were taken in 1982? In fact, they were taken just last week at London Fashion Week. Would you let your friends leave the house like this?
Or maybe (and I shudder as I say this) I just don’t get it. Susie Bubble (above, via Grazia.it) is one of the world’s best respected fashion bloggers – and she’s frequently lauded for her quirky, kooky get-ups. But does she look good, as you and I know it? (Or does it even matter?) As a slight aside, I’ve met Susie in real life, briefly. She’s tall and slight, which was a massive surprise to me – having seen dozens of her outfit shots I had her at about 5ft 2in and a size 12. Not a bit of it*.
And any post about street style wouldn’t be complete without Anna dello Russo, the street-style queen, seen here in a full Prada get-up from the Italian label’s S/S collection (photograph, by Olivier Zahm, via Purple.fr). Dello Russo didn’t always dress like this, mind you; check out this piece in New York magazine, showing what street-style stars looked like before the cameras. Maybe Menkes is right, and it’s all turned into a circus, a pantomime of fashion.
All I know is that I miss the days you could go on to a street-style blog and think, “wow, that’s a really interesting way of wearing a full-length dress” or “I’m totally rolling up my jeans and wearing them with heels today”. Now I go on and prepare myself for the mammy-esque rumblings of, “isn’t she cold in that get-up” or “where is she even going?”
Please, Beaut.ie readers, tell me I’m not alone! Because if street style hasn’t got totally ridiculous, then maybe, just maybe, I’m getting (whispers) old. Shudder.
* To be fair, Susie may just be the kind of girl who doesn’t care who thin or tall she looks, and more power to her. I wish I was the same; I just know that, when I get dressed in the morning, I’m looking for the illusion of narrow-ness, not the other way around!