This Fashion Week I got papped loads, and it sort of unnerved me. The fact that I do outfit posts on this blog means that I think I have some sense of style, but by the same token, I have always seen myself as the person behind the camera. Also, it is meaningless because everyone got papped loads, DSLRs were the new hot necklace, or so it seemed. It got me thinking…
The fashion paparazzi are a new breed of bloggers and photographers (from hereon in referred to simply as bloggers) that are now part and parcel of the circus that is Fashion Week. They document street style, which feeds back into the fashion machine and informs magazines and media as well as designers and trend forecasting companies, and indirectly affects the way fashion progresses as much as it records fashion the way it is now.
Papping the paps rather than the clothes at fashion week…
This phenomenon did not exist even just a few years ago. And I suppose, in one way it makes sense; fashion week is a hub of stylish people, so of course any blogger with any sense within a commutable distance is going to go and try get some good images for their blog. I know I did. But at what point does the sublime become ridiculous? At what point does the search for an authentic picture become a hoard of buzzy bees with DSLRs creating nothing but internet noise and generally being annoying? When does the fasharazzi become plain old paparazzi?
Paps & vloggers
I honestly don’t know the answer to this question. I can’t really talk either, as I was there, with my DSLR, looking at people and papping the ones I liked. But you sort of have to go and see for yourself to get a feel for the sheer volume of cameras – walking into Somerset House can be so overwhelming, there are literally hundreds of fashionably dressed people sticking cameras in your face, it feels like walking the gauntlet to get to the registration office. And like a mexican wave, as soon as one paps you, another five appear from nowhere and start doing the same. Did they mistake me for someone famous? Did they not know and snap in case I am famous? Or were they just following the crowd, copying others around them? I felt silly and uncomfortable, though I usually obliged because I also think that they aren’t really doing anything wrong – they’re just like me, into fashion and doing they thang on the internet, right?
Well…I dunno. I got the impression there can be a serious lack of editing skills – shoot first, decide whether I like it later – which is a weak way of shooting, and more like papping in my book. But I guess all the blame can’t rest on the bloggers, there was more than enough willing fodder. I got the impression from some people I saw and others I spoke to that the sole reason they got dressed that morning was to turn up on as many blogspots as they possibly could, like they were waiting to be discovered, though even they weren’t sure what they were being discovered for. Which is disingenuous, turning the notion of street style into a charade, where the pappers and the papped are egging each other on, creating images that have less and less to do with authenticity and actual street style. It’s the kind of pretension that makes people hate fashion, and it annoys me because generally speaking the authentic people and the good bloggers are intelligent, lovely and unpretentious, it demeans the good work they do.
This image is the only one I have actually seen – for all the cameras, where do the images go?!
I strongly believe in street style as a valid form of fashion photography and documentary – it records our culture and how we see ourselves. On the other hand, I strongly disagree with the unintended consequence of misguided people thinking they are mini celebrities and prancing around Somerset House with no other motive than getting papped and adding nothing to the fashion conversation. If you are there with a big camera and have nothing to say, you are a tourist. Or a chancer. Simple as.
I think my main problem is that I see so many blogs run by people who claim to want to be fashion journos, and they don’t know the difference between a rolled hem and a french seam, who can’t spot a brogue from a loafer. It’s the reduction of fashion to a mindless, “ooh-look-at-the-pretty-thing” that really gets me in this fashion paparazzi debate. It infuriating seeing people wanting to be the next Tommy Ton, or Scott, or Garance, without putting the time in to actually study what they claim to be so passionate about. It’s the people who don’t know their from there, gushing on about FASHUN, and not stopping for two seconds to form a new idea, a new thought, or to really draw any conclusions from the work that designers put so much effort into producing. It makes a mockery of the system, it debases it, creating a culture that is no better than crass reality tv shows that are built on mediochre wannabes*.
There were about 4 more photographers to my left here
I know I am being somewhat (very) hypocritical here. Who am I to say that people can’t go and participate? But I feel like it is a conversation that needs to be had. Of course bloggers have a very valid place, and as a blogger, I know that it can help to promote a community within fashion and give women a forum for understanding fashion and self-identity at a more grass-roots level, which is appealing and reassuring**. Blogs are community, and are a real force in fashion media today. I suppose my problem is at what point do all the photographers just become like mainstream paparazzi, a nuisance, too much? Or do I just need to chill the hell out? Perhaps I need to take my own advice and realise that there are good bloggers and bad bloggers and they are all entitled to do their thing, and I should just zone the bad ones out. And to never, ever go to Fashion Week with a hangover.
I love this guy, he’s the cutest – saw him everywhere!
*I’m sure reality tv stars are lovely people if you meet them, but lots of people are lovely and have more talent and qualifications to create good tv.
**I did my university thesis on this. And I got a first in it. So trust me, I am both pro-blogger, and know what I am talking about.