22 March 2011

Is Street-Style Photography One Snap Away From Overflowing?

Did you attend any fashion shows this season? If so, was your outfit marvelled over by doting street-style bloggers, scribbling down notes while you ticked off a list of what’s what? Did you at any point look down to find three camera lenses aimed at your feet? Or did you do the snapping, genuinely intrigued by people’s individual style or excited to see the blog heroines (ADR, Yasmin Sewell, Leigh Lezark, Caroline Issa or Taylor Tomasi) up-close and that incredible Mary Katrantzou dress worn on the street (or at least, on the bit of pavement stretching from the chauffeured Mercedes car to the front row seat of the show) rather than just the glossy pages of a magazine? If the answer is yes to any of the above or checking street style blogs is a daily activity for you (like it is for us), second to checking your emails, then could you please answer this for us? Haven’t you had enough of it all too?

‘The “bloggers walk” in the Jardin des Tuileries, site of many major Paris shows, is now completely out of control’, writes the editor of Business of Fashion Imran Amed.  In an ironic turn of events, it's now as likely to see a pic of a dozen style bloggers huddled together, big-lens cameras pointed at a model exiting a show, still in full make-up as a pic of Anna Dello Russo in a fruit/animal/make-a-wild-guess hat! But is it all too much? Or even interesting any more? Have we lost sight of what street-style is all about? ‘It’s become increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the aggressive paparazzi who stalk Hollywood celebrities outside bars and clubs and a few of the bad apples amongst the hordes of photographers that accost editors as they come in and out of shows’, writes Imran.

Is it really this bad? We asked our very own Fashion Editor-at-Large Melanie Rickey about her personal experience. ‘The "bloggers walk" as we all call it  - the stretch from the gates of the Tuileries Gardens to the fashion show tent - takes about three minutes to traverse at brisk pace. A few years ago we would have had to negotiate perhaps two or three stops to offer up a pose or smile for a street-style photographer. Now there are hundreds of people (no joke!) moving in gangs and descending on fashion editors and buyers, and if you stop for one, you feel you have to stop for everyone’, Melanie tells us. This doesn’t sound very I-love-your-style-can-I-please-take-a-pic-for-my-tumblr to us! It also seems rather counterproductive for both the ones snapping away and those attending the shows for that boring old reason; work. ‘I don't have the time to obsessively outfit select and then stop and pose for everyone,’ Melanie continues. ‘I'm busy working and don't always look like a fashion plate.’

Imran may have the answer to this aggressiveness. ‘Several street style bloggers told me confidentially that the competition is extremely fierce for getting the best photographs, which can then be sold on to global editions of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar each for as little as $200, but up to $1000 or more.’ Melanie has a suggestion as to what should happen next, ‘there is only a handful of good street style photographers. I think the governing body of Paris Fashion Week in particular needs to set up a system outside the shows with vetted photographers only allowed to take street style photographs. They vet catwalk photographers, and I think this would formalise what is the growing art form of "catwalk paparazzi", which as Imran points out is fast becoming a lucrative career in itself.’

What do you think? Would such a move chip away at the fun of fashion week or shut out the more 'amateur' (for lack of a better word) bloggers who may be full of good intentions? Or is it simply that something must be done to ensure the smooth running of the shows, each of which is the culmination of literally hundreds of people’s work? As always, thoughts below, please.


-- Kiki Georgiou


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