*WARNING: This post contains thoughts and social opinions*
London Fashion Week packed up and left town on Wednesday, with menswear taking the closing honours. I am really glad I made the push to make it over here in time to absorb some of madness that is fashion week – it’s sort of a circus mixed with a zoo. What really struck me was the prevalence of low budget DSLR’s (mine included) and girls and boys like me looking to catch a candid fashion moment, as well as capture the characters hanging out in Somerset House. I got talking to a few people (the fash pack are deceptively friendly) and one older Turkish man remarked that the normal people floating about seemed more important than the models, and in some ways I think I agree with him. For my part, anyway, I am as interested in how we the people interpret fashion and arrange it according to our budget and hip measurements as I am in glossy ads.
That said, I can’t ignore the latent narcissism and pure vanity of some of the people hanging out at Fashion Week HQ – there was certainly an element of “take my picture”, “notice me”, “look how beautiful I am, even though I’m not actually a model”. Some straight ups were a little too posed, some vacant stares a little too rehearsed. But the overwhelming majority of people I encountered and observed seemed to be genuine fans of fashion who were there to observe, and if people took their picture, fine, but that was not the overriding purpose of the exercise. It would be a bit glib of me to pretend like I’m not flattered if someone thinks I’m stylish – after all that is the industry I am in – but my focus has always been to create rather than take to the other side of the lens. Anyone with a passing interest in fashion will understand that street style photography has become a massive part of how fashion is now presented in the media, and dismissing it as nothing more than vanity is really missing the point of fashion imagery.
So I guess I’m being a hypocrite and saying that if you get dressed with the sole intention of having your picture taken, you’re an idiot, but if you have your photo taken because you are inherently stylish that’s fine? Yea, I think that’s basically what I’m saying.
Fashion has always had roots in exhibitionism, and I suppose the prevalence of bloggers now makes it easier to point the finger and call people up on it. Possibly we are uncomfortable with the notion of someone wanting that sort of validation; however, anyone who has ever dressed up to impress a boy or a girl or has dressed to fit in with a group is just as guilty of seeking validation through their outfit. And we all have to admire someone who is unashamedly proud of the way they put themselves together – that confidence and brazenness is what fuels the creative industries. Imagine Lady Gaga if she was just chill about things. We need exhibitionists in our midst, a focal point, a benchmark.
I have included some of my favourite shots from Somerset House over the two days that I was there. They have a theme that became apparent as I looked back on them – they are headless. In many of my shots, almost unconsciously, I found myself drawn to creating anonymity by cropping the figure – to create an image that is just about the clothes. Given my feelings on the narcissistic elements of the place, perhaps this was my psyche’s response – stripping them of their 30 seconds.