The Cause and Effect of Street Style Photography

Tuesday, 25 September 2012










Source: TommyTon for Vogue



While Bill Cunningham was considered the pioneer of street style photography, Scott Schuman was the trailblazer who led the path by combining beautifully composed pictures with blogging. His meteoric success, thanks to him recognizing a niche has led to an explosion of street style blogs around the world.

These days, street style photographers swarm outside the fashion shows all clamoring and jostling for a shot of a celebrity, model or fashion editor. This resulted in the rise of Anna dello Russo, Giovanna Battaglia, Tomasi Taylor Hill or Miroslava Duma who were relatively unknown outside the fashionable circle. Their images are beamed, copied and pasted many times over in numerous blogs. They are now considered celebrities in their own right. BUT.... now you have non-attendees strutting outside the location hoping to get noticed and photographed.

Suffice to say, only the most outrageously dressed are photographed. Think excessive use of colors or prints, preferably ones that clash. Why wear two when you can fit every color of the rainbow onto your outfit? Let's not forget the interesting headgear that most will never be caught dead wearing or impossibly high show-stopper heels. The magazines have commissioned street style photographers to shoot for the websites while waxing lyrical about the "blend of pastel roses with a checkered coat make it clear that any pattern, any time" (Vogue website) to rationalize the odd combination.

I'm at a loss here. The image that comes to mind would be the unwitting emperor who was fooled into thinking that he was wearing an extravagant outfit when he, in fact was naked. Perhaps they're deluded into thinking that they're well dressed justified by the endless clicks and flash lights from the photographers. I'd like to think it's a interpretation of personal taste as opposed to attention seeking/self promotion where the "loudest" outfit gets snapped.

Am I being too harsh? What are your thoughts about this?

27 comments:

  1. You read my mind! Was just thinking about this theme after another article touched on it. I couldn't agree with you more but you are being too kind, I fear certain people/bloggers dress more to get attention and (much) less about the expression of personal taste or fashion statement or direction.

    I hope the saturation in 'street style' images and reporting will revert to a genuine diveristy of true style and real inspiration. I mean photographers seem to be snapping away willy nilly and even the more well known bloggers with an attitude of well if they are wearing it then it must be good! I don't mind what people wear or don't as long as there's integrity somewhere in there!
    (I'm also a fan of Garance Dore).

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  2. I agree. It's a bit much. However, soon, fashion, blogs, street style, will be moved on to something else and all of this kind of thing will be a memory.

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  3. These are some gorgeous pictures. It's a little much, but I do like seeing all of the street styles around the world. I can't blame photographers for capitalizing on it.

    http://www.glamkittenslitterbox.com/
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

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  4. I totally agree - I love the street style pics of those who are naturally elegant and chic and are simply not trying too hard. Gio, Carine, Garance and Emmanuelle come to mind. It's not Halloween!!!

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  5. ^ In response to Bonnie 25, I agree that the photos are gorgeous but then again, is it due to the subject of the photographs or the photographer?? A good photographer can make mundane things look interesting with good composition, lighting, etc.

    As for "street style", to me that means what "naturally" occurs on the streets (although you can argue that fashion itself is not natural!). I see that as capturing a random person walking down a random street. But like you said, it seems many dress up in COSTUMES instead....as radical as can be just to get noticed. But is that what these hopefuls actually wear on a daily basis? If not, then is it really a true reflection of "street style"? My opinion is that it does not.

    I don't think you're being harsh at all. I think it's a very accurate observation.

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  6. SO very true! I think streetstyle has become circus-style during fashion week. The more outrageous the outfit the better. Can't blame the bloggers though as they are all fighting for their 15 min of fame.

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  7. I just read an article on this topic - you hit it right on the head. It's so surreal to see people milling around in strange outfits, walking by again and again just to get photographed. Some of the women you've posted look lovely and natural but others no. And by the way, I love your new blog design!!

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  8. To be honest, the more colourful and the more extravagant, the less interested I am. I can't relate even though I should be probably looking to it for inspiration. I probably agree with Lauraloo - that's what I'm more interested in - people who stick with their own "wearable" style.

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  9. ADR never fails to make me smile (even if I would never emulate her style). When I was in NYFW it seemed that it is becoming a bit of a circus as of late... really admire how Scott Schuman has stayed true to his vision.

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  10. Some of the looks we are seeing nowadays from fashion week appear to be too over the top in my honest opinion, so I don't really gravitate towards them. I do feel that some people can pull off these types of outfits but one shouldn't stray from their personal style just for the sake of getting photographed.

    Love the new blog design babe! :)

    xxTheresa

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  11. First off, love the new layout! Now on to the question at hand, I agree with you that most tend to dress outlandishly for attention during fashion events which I find sad. To quote verbatim from an earlier comment from Sue, the more colorful and extravagant, the less interested I am.

    fauxionista.com

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  12. Interested to read this as when my daughter and I did February Fashion Week, much to our surprise she was constantly papped! The same thing happened on her work experience at Red mag being near Carnaby Street, just sitting on the ground eating her lunch they would stop and ask her! She doesn't dress to attract attention she just dresses how 20 year old girls that are fashionable do, i.e. creepers, disco pants, bright colours, dip dyed hair etc so although there are of course people who dress specifically to attract attention and I know a couple personally, its is not the case for everyone.

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  13. Sometimes I feel the same way. Though I love seeing street styles from across the world and most of the time, I do find them inspiring and gorgeous, there are times when I'm wondering if I'm totally missing something. I can't see anyone wearing some of these outfits just regularly.. and that's what I really want, every day people on every day streets wearing fashions that I can relate to.

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

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  14. I love the new look, too, Marlene!

    You know, lately I have been somewhere in between all this. To also quote Sue, the more outlandish and attention getting the outfit, the faster my eyes glaze over. However, I like to see people who add thier own spin to streetstyle dressing, too, and show a little individuality by going out of the box. My eyes are starting to glaze over also at the constant barrage of outfits that are a variation on the theme of skinny jeans, boots, and jacket over a slouchy sweater/T. It's all starting to look the same. My faves are women, like lauraloo mentions, who get the mix just perfect. They aren't afraid to risk it a little with something offbeat.

    Carine is my idol. Wish I will look like her at 57. But then, I didn't look like her at 27 either (she was a stunner) so I may be stretching it. :)

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  15. I couldn't agree with you more. Although I do get the feeling that MFW is the most extravagant one of all fashion shows. I still like seeing Emmanuelle Alt and Geraldine Saglio's streetstyle looks. :) also, wanted to say that I really like your new layout!

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  16. You bring up a good point and a very clever analogy... I believe this dressing for the street photographer is a trend and I hope it stays at that. While dressing absurdly is not my style I can certainly appreciate it, if it is true to one's personality and personal style. When I look though these photos it's hard to imagine anything other than a bunch of peacocks flocking to flashing cameras draped in mismatched designer couture, insisting their two year old didn't dress them that morning. Only to return to their own basic black suits until next year's fashion week.

    I suppose it's like most trends- it's fun when it's unique, but once it hits over saturation all you can do is look forward to the next trend.

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  17. For me, each fashion week or "street style" during fashion week is blending into the next one where only 1-2 looks stand out for me. I'm curious as to when this clash of the colors/patterns started, but I don't really think getting 15 minutes of fame is not blameworthy. I think there has to be more to putting time into a fashion blog than just walking back and forth in front of a venue just to get snapped in something you won't wear past that hour. It's contrived.
    - Aliya :)

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  18. So well written as always Marlene (by the way, loving your new blog layout). I recently read an interview by Scott which got me thinking about fashion blogs in general. He states that he's not a big fan of personal style blogs because of the limited wardrobe of bloggers. But to me, cleverly mixing and matching whatever your tiny wardrobe consists of is the very thing that makes personal style blogs so interesting. I agree there is very much an Emperors New Clothes syndrome whenever fashion weeks rolls around. I don't think these classify as street style anymore, they're just a bunch of fashiony people trying to be fashionable.

    xx Jenee C.
    {camo meets couture}

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  19. I just find the whole 'street style' idea to be very calculated when it comes to fashion weeks, tis why I didn't take any pictures (for my blog) this season let alone for Instagram, there's no originality and disconnected from authenticity. You should have seen LFW, too many clowns and costumes were present at the fashion circus, it was horrid to watch.

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  20. Dare I say, thank god somebody finally said it! I really respect that you for putting it out there in a blog post. Although I love to see ladies dressed up, I'm not a fan at all of seeing people dress solely for the purpose of drawing an eye of a photographer. It outrageous dressing happens to be your true style, I say go for it, wear it and be proud. But for those that put on these garments for a week or two each year and that are totally out of character, it's all just so contrived. I say bring back authenticity to 'street photography'. It's not meant to be the wearer attempting to look like they belong in an editorial or catwalk but a representation of the person's style. Where did this concept get lost?

    xx Mandi
    www.findmeamuse.com

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  21. Totally agree with you Marlene! I find it's become a bit too much of a circus for my liking in the past few years. I hate scrolling through street style round ups & seeing photo after photo of garish, over the top, attention seeking outfits. I used to look to street style for inspiration, but now there's nothing inspiring about it because it's unrelatable. I miss seeing variety & people who just genuinely look great in what they're wearing, even if it is a basic outfit.

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  22. I love seeing extremes of fashion especially as I live in California where the majority wear jeans and a t-shirt and leave it at that. Love especially the Brits who are not afraid not to look "cute" all the time.

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  23. While I appreciate the photography on some sites, I just can't relate to the fashion at all. I like classic modern and this is all too crazy for me! (I met Scott Schuman. We were in Paris and my husband was taking a photo of me. I looked over his shoulder and there he was walking straight towards us. I introduced myself and got a photo. There is no way my outfit was worthy of a snap on his camera!)

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  24. I thought of you and this post when I came across this article in the Toronto Star today:

    http://www.thestar.com/living/fashion/article/1266960--paris-fashion-week-street-style

    :)

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  25. This is probably the most valid and relevant question we should all be asking ourselves (as well questioning the reasoning behind blogging - narcissism, hidden agenda, or verbosity) especially as consumers of fashion. I find that if I see a product enough on blogs, I am slowly convinced of its necessity. That stupid Kenzo sweatshirt that was photographed at every single fashion week? I saw it on Moda Operandi when it first came out and was like, "$300 for a sweatshirt? Who's going to pay for that mess?" Plenty of people, it seems. I suppose it isn't as terrible as the $600 Balenciaga sweatshirts, but it's absolutely absurd. I wish they had a study that calculated the subliminal messages style blogs translate into actual sales. I bet we'd all be horrified at how much we get suckered into feeding trends. (Myself included in all of this hypothetical speak, of course.)

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  26. I hate what street style began. I mean - people are not themselves, everybody is looking like clown or totally weird, just to be pictured. Like they're screaming: "Look at me, I'm so different". Most of the time people look awful just to be recognized, but what is even more surprising that somebody actually find them attractive and put all these fake comments how pretty they are.... Same with celebrities - wearing 10 designer pieces doesn't help if you didn't mix&match right. Sometimes you see really strange combos, but still pretty awesome, because you can feel personality and idea, this is what I respect. Even completely simple outfit could look amazing and recognizable in the crowd if you can see the personality in it! Stay true to yourself ;)

    http://streetlounge.blogspot.de/

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  27. the funny thing is that despite those photos depicting some really vivid textiles, gorgeously constructed garments and stunning patterns, everything kinda blends in and it's really hard to notice. sometimes it seems like these fashion folk consume before they question and it ends up diluting their sense of personal style, or at least likening it to every other fashion week attendee out there. interesting discussion fo sho!

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