Hello, all! So, things.
“The whole thing has become one glorified, ridiculous, narcissistic, nauseating selfie.”
I missed this Business of Fashion op-ed – ‘Are Camera Phones Killing Fashion?’ – when it first came out a few weeks back, but I found it via this post of Jacqueline’s and wow, that’s a lot of nails being hit on their heads. The article also touches on part of what I find so disappointing about a lot of fashion blogging and the blogger-at-runway-shows scenario (the writer of the article isn’t commenting on bloggers specifically, rather the whole circus of fashion and people engaging with it, but reading the article I was like “Yes! Yes, that’s what I find so galling”). Ok, so, everyone should be free to have an opinion and to use a platform of their choosing to communicate that opinion, but that’s just it – very, very frequently, personal opinions just aren’t that interesting. The article really gets at what I feel is the heart of the issue for me: there are people (including but not limited to fashion bloggers) who could be adding value to the fashion sphere, but they generally just don’t.
I think it’s important and constructive for bloggers to be involved in the fashion industry if they have some sort of particular knowledge or perspective that allows blog readers to understand the fashion they’re seeing in new and interesting ways. Does the blogger have knowledge of the history of fashion so that they can comment on how a new collection references things from the past? Do they have knowledge of technical construction, so they can comment on particular techniques and why they were used? Do they have knowledge of wider culture and history, so they can discuss how a collection might be a commentary on broader issues or themes? Do they, essentially, have something intelligent and informative to say? When I read a review of a fashion show or a collection, I want to learn something from it. Learning one person’s opinion, which is frequently in very basic terms of “I liked this thing about the collection, and I liked this other thing, and this other different thing was also a thing that I liked”, is not really that compelling.
But instead of being invited because of their unique ability to comment on a collection and convey a unique perspective that is built on some sort of scaffolding of objective knowledge that they worked to achieve, so many bloggers are invited to the show primarily for PR reasons, and when they attend the shows because it feels like a validation of their “contribution” to fashion, we don’t really get anything constructive out of it. A bunch of crappy photos (whether they’re taken with camera phones or with DSLRs, these photos are rarely anywhere near as good as photos by actual professional photographers), a blog post about what they liked about the show and what pieces they just can’t wait to buy – I feel like that doesn’t add anything into a wider conversation about fashion. So much noise, so little signal.
At the same time, there’s no harm in all the little blogs around the place where people just voice their opinions or document their own style or think about their own tastes and preferences. People need a space in which they can work through and discuss their thoughts and ideas. I think the problem is just when the whole fashion blogger juggernaut gets out of hand and people who don’t add anything to the conversation are put in positions of privilege when they don’t have any discernible ability or willingness to contribute something back from that position to others who aren’t in that position. Like, oh wow, u got invited to [city name] fashin week, u went to shows and liked some things, hmm very fashin, so style. (Isn’t the doge meme such a useful rhetorical tool?)
Phoebe Philo at the Vogue Festival – a masterclass in how to waste an interview opportunity
Ugh. Just, ugh. Yesterday, Phoebe Philo was interviewed by Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, as part of the Vogue Festival in London. I was there. I was there and it was awful. Not due to Phoebe, but due to the fact that interviewing is simply not Alexandra Shulman’s forte – so many generic questions, so many wasted opportunities to get some really interesting details or commentary from Phoebe. (And that’s not even considering the stilted segues or awkward pauses or unintentionally patronising comments or the mechanical movement from one question written on a set of cards to the next – I can forgive the form if the content is good, but the content was just so poor.)
I’m not sure I learned any new information about Phoebe or Céline or Phoebe’s approach to her work or her creative process or her influences or anything. I’m sure Alexandra and Phoebe can sit in private and have a fascinating chat with each other, but in a forum of hundreds and hundreds of people in a theatre – kind of a very awkward trainwreck. Anyway, if you’re desperate for further coverage of the interview, god there were a lot of people live-Tweeting it, and the place was crawling with fashion bloggers (I recognised various bloggers who regularly materialise on my Pinterest home page, but the only one for whom I could put a face to a blog name was Hedvig from The Northern Light who was a few rows in front of me with her enormous DSLR) so I guess plenty of posts will be appearing about it soon, if not already. I’m sure they’ll mostly have a more positive take on the interview that me (so cynic, much jaded, wow).
Anyway, I daresay it was almost totally a waste of a £40 ticket. Like, how many
cronuts Cocodoughs™ cronuts could I have purchased from Cocomaya for £40? (The cronut trend lives on forever in my heart/arteries.) (The answer is I could purchase 12.31 standard cronuts from Cocomaya for £40.)
Why y’all not talking about Sézane?
I’m generally very reluctant to talk about brands or purchasable items of any sort on this blog, just because there are a million other forums telling you what brands to buy or what items are great, which is why I like writing about research papers instead. People don’t need more fuel for the consumption fire, I figure. However, I’m kind of baffled that people in particular regions of the blogosphere aren’t writing more about Sézane, the French brand by Morgane Sézalory that makes – let’s face it – really freaking nice clothes. Sézane seems like a similar operation to Everlane, and you can’t move an inch for conversation about Everlane, but I can only find a handful of bloggers (either anglophone or francophone) talking about Sézane. (Maybe heaps of people are writing about Sézane and I’m just failing to locate them – that’s actually a pretty likely possibility.) According to the Sézane values page, they seem to give a shit about things like garment quality and ethical working conditions during manufacture (although I would probably need to contact them directly to get an adequate level of detail about how they achieve that).
A few weeks back I bought a sweatshirt from their previous collection and when it arrived and I unwrapped it, it was like a revelation – oh god, that’s what decent quality looks and feels like! Seriously, the Sézane sweatshirt makes my A.P.C. sweatshirt look like a piece of crap made out of scratchy cheesecloth intended for people who hate themselves and want to abrade their skin and deny themselves nice things. The Sézane sweatshirt is something you want to stroke like a little rabbit because it’s so lovely and soft, and it actually does its bloody job of being warm and insulating (seriously, A.P.C. sweatshirt, what are you even for?). ANYWAY, the point is, I don’t want to add fuel to your consumption fire, but if you need to buy something, you could do a lot worse than buying something from Sézane. So, like, try not to buy things, but if you need a thing, Sézane seems to make good things.
Miss Sophie asked me a while back if I was on Instagram and no, I wasn’t, but I also wasn’t sure why I wasn’t. I mean, I take a lot of photos of nifty things (you know, IMO) that then never see the light of day again, so I may as well try sharing them. So I have an Instagram. Feel free to follow me, or post yours here in the comments and I will probably follow you (as long as your Instagram is comprised of less than 70% photos of Diptyque candles and bunches of flowers in Mason jars).