Tommy Ton and others shooting Anna Dello Russo in “Take My Picture”.
Photo: Garage Magazine
In their new documentary, Garage Magazine explores one of the most vehemently debated, scorned, and defended elements of the current fashion industry: street style. From photographers to bloggers, those involved in street style have come under scrutiny from fashion’s old guard as of late, and “Take My Picture” aims to explore and explain some of the reasons why. Whether you’re a blogger, an editor, a photographer or a fashion fan, you’ve probably caught some of the vibes coming from both sides. There was much chatter amongst both bloggers and editors alike when Suzy Menkes published a piece called “The Circus of Fashion” in The New York Times’ T Magazine, right smack in the middle of Fashion Month, and “Take My Picture” has set tempers flaring again. Going through the history of street style and, really, fashion in general, the team at Garage starts from the beginning, in the 80’s, when nobody cared what was going on backstage. Legendary fashion journalist and Style.com editor-at-large Tim Blanks cites the birth of the supermodel as the beginning of the age of the peacock, citing the fact that Hollywood glamour was waning and fashion glamour was taking its place. Unlike much of the debate thus far, particularly Suzy Menkes piece, the documentary shows many sides of the debate, from Susie Bubble’s thought that editors turning up their noses at people who want to be photographed as “elitist,” to Tommy Ton’s mourning the days when he was one of few photographers in Paris’ Tuileries Gardens during fashion week.
In her piece, Menkes presents a scathing critique of street style. Harkening back to the old days of fashion’s elite, who she says used to gather outside of the shows like “black crows,” Menkes lambasts the current culture of “peacocking” that has become ubiquitous at each of the global fashion week events. If you’ve been to New York Fashion Week, either to Lincoln Center or downtown at Milk Studios, you might have experienced some of the behavior Menkes is talking about. Street style photographers stand waiting like paparazzi, but they’re not looking for the big stars (exclusively). Walk by in a perfect fur coat, epic shoes, or major hair and they’ll be clambering to shoot you as well, giving fashion plates (but otherwise regular people) their moment. In the early days of the blogger revolution, this was heralded as the democratization of fashion, the opening up of a previously elite world that, previously, only those with the proper pedigree could gain entry to. However, the rise of bloggers quickly began to attract negative attention, as fashion week began to feel more about what people were wearing outside of the shows than the clothes on the models walking in them. After Menkes’ piece was published, bloggers from Susie Bubble to Leandra Medine posted their reactions on their blogs, and neither side seemed to feel any vindication or relief. “Take My Picture” is a deeper, more nuanced look than we have had before, but it still leaves open ended questions, and plenty of room for debate.
So is this debate about democratization? It’s hard to chastise people for expressing themselves and also trying to further their careers through their clothing when you’re talking about people who work in fashion to begin with. The entire industry, after all, is about selling people the necessary garments so that they can express themselves. At the same time, though, it makes sense that people who are working so hard during fashion week might feel a little angry people who have gained power without having to climb the traditional ladder. We’re still on the fence, taking in each side of the critique and forming our own opinion, but we’re curious, what do you think about street style and the changing face of fashion?