Monday, November 21, 2011

What Is Real?



Anna Dello Russo - the original look

Anna Dello Russo - the current look

Björk: looking like a wallflower compared to the image above
*Images from The Sartorialist and

Not too long ago, there was an interview between Cathy Horyn and Alber Elbaz.  
In the interview, Alber discussed a meeting he had with his design team
 – his vision was to create a dress in black because it would look beautiful on his client.   

The design team disagreed and thought the dress should be in blue and purple 
because contrasting colors would look more beautiful on the internet.  

While this was a valid point, Alber stood by his initial instinct – 
the real life dress would look most beautiful in black.  
He then posed the question, “What is more important – what is real or not real?”   

And herein lies the crux of a question I have been pondering over the past several weeks.
This question has not only become a problem for the industry,
 but it has also become a societal problem as well.  

Facebook, Twitter and an infinite number of blogs enable anyone to become anything, regardless of whether it is a reality or not.  
In the fashion industry, the problem is most evident when viewed on 
the street style photography blogs.  
When The Sartorialist first launched, it was completely captivating.  
I was compelled by the fact that Scott Schuman was capturing 
these larger than life industry figures in such a radical light.  
There was this strange voyeuristic Rear Window sense that we were seeing 
something that was not meant for our eyes.  
It was raw, authentic and most importantly, it was real.  
I so enjoy observing an individual’s sense of style and how 
one interprets trends, pieces or ideas.

But that was then.  
Back in the olden days, people actually got dressed with the intention of going to work.  
Yes, I recognize that getting dressed to go to work in the fashion world
 is a slightly different reality to begin with, but nevertheless, 
it is still a business and people have to work.  

Somewhere down the line something changed, 
and people started dressing with the sole intention of getting their 
mug taken so that it just might end up on a street style blog.  
Rather than one’s style being the primary motivation to get dressed,
 it has become one’s desire to make it big on the computer screen 
that seems to be the deciding factor when putting on the most tricked out shoe, accessory or ensemble before heading out the door.  

Taste, integrity and authentic style suddenly seem to have disappeared.

People now compromise their sense of style for a sense of fame – this is not real.  
In fact, it is just sad.  
Just like Stefani Germanotta cast herself as Lady Gaga 
(however, she's making $millions by being different),
so many editors, stylists and models cast themselves as these faux internet personas.  

They all have the common goal of branding themselves and expanding their scope.  
Because of this, the street style blogs are now inundated with one too many little monsters.  

It is unfortunate that these people completely lack the confidence to simply be who they are.  Seriously, when did an 11 a.m. fashion show require black tie attire and, 
more importantly, when did high fashion become low hanging fruit?  
You know there is a problem when a couture piece becomes a predictable and anticlimactic outfit choice because it is so forced for the sake of mere internet aesthetic.  

This is not real, it is neither fantastical nor fanatical – it is simply maniacal.

I do not intend to be cutting or catty, 
but I suppose I am just tired of seeing the same old worn-out shot of the same old fake and overdone outfit, shoe or accessory.  

In reality, I actually believe that most of these individuals 
have a far more interesting sense of style and perspective than what we are seeing, 
but their judgment in outfit choices have been clouded by fame, freebies and folly.  

Even if the photograph is not on fire, it can at least be genuine so people can connect.  
Rather than be imprisoned by what is fake, why not be empowered by what is real?  

Sure, most days I am dressed as a slouchy   
  French artist, or in old Ralph Lauren Indian blanket poncho
or in a long gypsy-skirt with beads, but at least I’m keeping it real.  
That’s just me –take it or leave it.  

And I know Alber is keeping it real because in the end, 
the answer to his own question was “it should be real.” 
He produced the dress in black.

Alber & I always agree...but you knew this, didn't you?





Catherine said...

Well said, Marsha, and I agree with you. However, here in the hippie capital of the world getting 'dressed' at all is seen as establishment and boring. While Portland may produce Project Runway winners they immediately hightail it to NYC because so few people here make the effort- whether it's for work or the theatre. Sad.

Also, I know it's critical in this day and age but the word 'branding' needs to go back to its original hot iron meaning. I'm completely sick of it.

quintessence said...

LOVE this post and TOTALLY agree. You can see this so clearly at fashion week where the street style photographers wait outside the entrance looking for the most outrageous get ups of the day. Kudos to both you and Albert!!

Francine Gardner said...

this is quite an interesting thought process and I completely agree with you. There is no worse faux pas than a case of trying too hard. Imagine leading a life being told what to wear by your stylist, what to do by your agent... as for these "hoping to catch the eye of a camera" types, very sad indeed.

Talia said...

Great post! Love that you kept it real!

LPC said...

So very true.