Lauren Santo Domingo is one of the chicest woman I know. If not the chicest. Which is why, when we were sat next to each other at the Proenza Schouler show this season, I was shocked when she plopped down next to me in a white one-pocket T-shirt. After all, this was fashion week. This was our dear friend’s fashion show, which turned out to be one of the best fashion shows of the New York collections. Why so blasé? The reason, she explained, was the spectacle of fashion week dressing and fashion week street style photography had become such a monster she had lost interest in pumping a look. With so many girls, some of whom had no business being at a fashion show other than to be photographed at a fashion show, wearing everything and the kitchen sink, her instinct was to slip into something simple.
I was reminded of our chat when I was working on my Mr. Blasberg’s Best Dressed list for the week, which you can see here. My favorite looks from fashion week were all simple, monochromatic and minimalistic. Only Kate Moss and Nicole Richie embellished themselves a little: a straight-off-the-runway Saint Laurent sparkle and a Givenchy ruffle, respectively. Jessica Chastain was in a black dress I would have called conservative; Milla Jovovich wore simple black slacks and a white blouse to the Chanel show. This is a major departure from the Paris fashion week’s of yester-years, when my favorite looks were the sorts of things that would pop up on street style blogs around the world: Veils and headbands and bows and tongue-in-cheek handbags and girls wearing flourescents and bright colors and mismatched plaids and textures and more furs than a zoo. That’s what we all thought passed for fashionable in seasons past.
My friend Dasha Zhukova was recently thinking about the spectacle that has become fashion week when her magazine, Garage, produced the below documentary, ‘Take My Picture,’ which debates the issue of street style photography as both an annoyance to the people there to do their job and a celebration of the democratization of this industry. In the film, Tim Blanks wonders what it’s all for, and wonders if one day someone is going to get hit by a car posing for the perfectly unposed fashion shot. The video also speaks to the divine Tommy Ton, and the likes of Susie Bubble and Phil Oh. I like the documentary because it helps identify the mayhem, and shows that there is a difference between the bloggers (who everyone likes) and a pack of women who borrow bright, clashing clothes in hopes of being photographed (who some people like and some people don’t).
I am torn who to support because, yes, I’ve been shoved by photographers outside of fashion shows, and it’s annoying and insulting to those of us doing their job during fashion week. But on the other hand, I adore what many of these street style photographers have created, an entire industry onto themselves that has created its own celebrities and drawn more attention to an industry that I love. The ‘bloggers walk,’ which is how many call the stroll from the gates of the Tuilleries to the tents where a fashion show is held, can be the most irritating, invasive, aggravating walk there is. But it would be elitist and arrogant for anyone, including me, to think they have a right to be there more than someone else. To be fair, many of the people in this video are friends of mine, and this is not a judgment to be passed on their style or their social skills. But it does beget the question: When will too much be too much?
Trends happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a social commentary, sometimes it’s a reaction to other things happening in other places of the world. Remember when Christophe Decarnin introduced Balmain’s new shape a few years ago? Those short, sparkly skirts and those giant, football player-sized shoulders? In 2009, I wrote an article for Bazaar that said it was a direct result of the recession. When times are tough, sex sells. (This article is on Bazaar’s website, and you can read it here.) When Helmut Lang and Calvin Klein reinterpreted minimalism at the end of the 1990s, it wasn’t because people were showing up at their fashion shows dressed in turbans and fluorescent gypsy skirts. It was a reaction to larger social gratuitousness. But is it possible that minimalism is creeping back into the zeitgeist because so many of this industry’s creative minds are getting overloaded with the pictures we see on every blog of overstyled show crashers? Will someone please ask Phoebe Philo why she is making such clean, well cut fashions all my girlfriends are obsessed with?
While I am curious to see how this pans out in another six months, when the industry will be again trudging up to Lincoln Center for another round of fashion shows, it’s interesting for me to hear from so many of my friends how “over it” they all are. It used to be a thrill (even to those who won’t admit it) to be recognized, stopped and photographed walking into a fashion show, but not any more. I know many girls who would rather sneak in unmolested.