Ever since I started this blog, I’ve tried every season to rethink the way I approach fashion weeks. Because of this, and because I was curious about how everything had changed over time, I decided to take a little tour through my archives and it’s kind of CRAZY. Come take a tour with me!
No Fashion Week for me – at that time, my blog was only illustrations, and frankly, all I knew of fashion weeks was what I had read in magazines and seen on Fashion TV, which I used to watch for hours. This drove my mother crazy because in her opinion, watching girls walking towards nowhere (“Where are they going?” she asked me one day) was pretty much like watching fish swimming around in a fish bowl.
“Pfff, you just don’t get it, mom.”
Oh, and what do I find in 2006?
A post where I talk about Scott and Face Hunter, the only bloggers/streetstyle photographers at the time. Actually, we didn’t even call them that yet: I call them “coolhunters”.
In 2006, I say:
(Yes, I’m quoting myself) (Oh, come on, it’s fine.) (It’s like a literary selfie, right?)(A Tweet!!!).
“And sometimes, with the most talented ones, we find what we’d forgotten to look for in the frantic race of appearances: style, grace. A sense of the moment.”
March. My first Fashion Week. Oooooomaaaaigaaaaaaad what’s happening. I’m over the moon excited. I’ve never seen so many people so well-dressed, so cool, so eeeeeeeeeeee!!!
I start taking photos of people, I’m sickeningly shy and all I can say in English is “hello”, “please” and “fuck” (the last one only whenever I messed up a photo, which was pretty often).
People invite me to a some shows because my blog is starting to get some attention, but all of that is just for fun, in my spare time. I don’t publish my photos on the blog ok, actually I do, but don’t look and I faint every time I see someone I recognize.
The fashion show scene is relaxed. The people I take photos of are nice, curious, flattered, and surprised all at once. They’re dressed normally.
I mean, they’re dressed very well, they’re very chic, but they look normal. That’s what I love. It’s the opposite of magazines, it’s real life! It’s just a concentrated group of very elegant, very cool people.
Even so, I still say:
“The Face Hunter came to take a photo of me. Which is almost an insult to my pants, given how opposite our tastes are, especially when I see the grins he makes when he looks at his photos, which – fortunately for me, will never be published. I tell myself that, from now on, Yvan has something to blackmail me with.”
This is still true today: days when I have my photo taken coming out of a show with 200 photographers pouncing on everyone, I always feel like there’s something wrong with my outfit, something too showy, too crazy, too ‘fashion weeeeeek look at meeeeeeeeee.’
Sometimes when you look at life in retrospect, it’s totally hilarious.
Street style is all over the place. I discover photography, I go to a lot of shows, I start putting names and smiles with the faces I was barely brave enough to ask to stop for a photo the previous season, and I even start doing some style stories about them.
It’s still relatively quiet outside of fashion shows – I don’t realize how lucky I am.
I start making contact with fashion editors and reporting things like:
“Let me make this brief. If you’ve followed me, if you go to a show, and someone touches your body and asks ‘Who is it?’ Don’t answer “It’s me, in fact it’s my right breast, do you want a Prozac or something?” Instead, say: “It’s Marc, or it’s Stefano. Or if you’re taken off guard and it’s just Massimo, say: “That’s vintage.”
It’s also my first New Yoooooooorkeeeeeeeee fashion wwweeeekkk omgomgomg!!!! Total hysteria, total excitement, total jet lag.
I write things like this:
“People come up to me and say I like your style, and I could fill up an entire post with how much I feel like a hobo next to the meticulous precision of American girls. I’ve got loads of new friends, and it worries me – Cole Mohr is trying to French kiss me, but I think it’s because he doesn’t have an apartment right now, whereas I do. This must explain that. Maybe, maybe not!”
And then, don’t forget, 2008 – the financial crisis:
“To celebrate that, you just escaped the super depressing post I was about to write about the economy that’s just crashed and how fashion people are just throwing their arms up in the air, they’re so petrified [as if they could be any more petrified, those fashion people. Booooootox!].”
Style.com asks me to desribe my day, I go from show to show. The photos are getting popular and since they don’t need any explanations, my blog actually goes international, and my English starts to get better.
“Hi, I’m Gowaaance, can I take your picture?”
I would love to have it translated, but for now, my blog is only in French.
That’s when I meet Tim, my beloved translator who will be with me for a long time (say hello to Andrea!), and the blog is translated into English. I’m in super mega fashion week mode, I follow the fashion bandwagon as if my life depended on it, and every day, I debrief you in detail about all the looks I love.
I have an insatiable appetite for fashion and that’s a good thing, because more and more doors are opening for me.
People start getting pushy in front of the shows. Everybody knows who Carine is, who Anna is, who Kate is. The type of people you see starts to change, and there are more and more of them, from young students who are just there to enjoy the view, to new bloggers making an appearance. Alexa Chung makes her debut and the outfits are more and more editorial.
I guess it made me question myself, because here is what I had to say about it:
“In fact, it was when I was taking a photo of one of those pretty people, who was totally thrilled to pose for as long as I wanted and as long as the hoard of 365,756 photographers next to me wanted, even is she was freezing in the icy wind in her summer dress, wearing Dior from head to toe at the Dior show, and who repeated to me three times “It’s all Dior”, that I said ok, ok.
Enough of the bullshit. It’s very pretty, but what am I doing here?”
And to think that in 2009, I thought there were too many photographers, hahahhahahah hoooo that’s a good one. lololololol. Lol.
What I’ve always loved doing is showing you all the things that I discover as they come to me.
I start taking photos at fashion shows, and my angle changes slightly.
There’s this one on the Chanel show and the amazing bags in the audience. A fantastic encounter with Sonia Rykiel. A visit to Anna Dello Russo’s room at the Ritz.
This is the start of the social media craze, and everyone has their own voice now. Fashion Week is everywhere, pictures of the shows are everywhere, anyone can share and comment, it’s the era of the photo of the photo of the photo…
Dolce & Gabbana definitely got the memo – they pull out all the stops for us (Scott, Bryan, Tommy, and I) and put us in the front row. The truth is it wasn’t my first time in the front row, but at the Dolce show, they really understood the power of the image. They put computers in front of our seats (“For live tweets!”)(which I never do) and they have photographers all over the place to immortalize the moment. We feel a bit used, but the message is loud and clear: times have changed.
Here is what I wrote the next day:
“Fashion is a small, and very organized world. There are rules, customs, kings, queens, jesters, princesses, etiquette, codes – you never stop learning, and it’s really fascinating.
The front row of a show is, above all, the place where you can see the clothes best. Beyond the third row, you can’t see the shoes, and past the fifth row, you can see the hair, if you’re lucky. Seats in the front row are in high demand. Because that’s also where you can be seen. You earn you seat on the front row through celebrity, experience, or power. All this gives way to a lot of drama and some lovely ego crises.
This season, the creators of Dolce & Gabbana had a revelation. When they spoke to their clients, they realized they spent all their time online. They were well-informed, they wanted things to move quickly, and were ready to buy right away. They figured out that it was a new age, and they needed to move ahead with the times.
They decided to open their doors wide to four bloggers.”
Voilà. I take photos inside, outside, everywhere I go, and frankly, I go everywhere – things have changed.
“Lately, I realize how much time has gone by, how much things have changed. At fashion weeks, I know a ton of people. When I arrive at a show, someone grabs my hand, smiles at me, and leads me to my seat. Someone calls me to make sure I’m not going to miss the show. They double check, triple check. People aren’t happy when I miss a show. Haha! Yep, things have changed!
It’s weird – the fashion world’s ability to take people in or reject them. In between moments of snobbery or being totally brown nosed, you learn quickly to only trust your heart. To reach out to people who do you good, to just be yourself, and to see fashion for what you love about it and leave the rest out.
I’m starting to understand (finally!) that since fashion is an industry, once the initial discovery is over, you may quickly find yourself going in circles. Photographing the same people, the same attitudes. It’s a really tiny world!”
Fortunately, photography itself has also changed a lot. It’s become super easy to make videos, so, kind of on a whim, we start making films with Chris, my assistant (oh yeah, in 2010 I had an assistant!) and this is what we came up with. Now that was fun…
I start fashion week by saying this:
“There are currently more streetstyle photographers than fashion editors (and sometimes they’re even better dressed, I’m talking Anna Dello Russo well dressed).”
It starts looking like a war zone outside of the shows, and I start getting bored there, because I never was very drawn to the bling bling and now it’s bling bling BIG TIME. People start changing clothes three times a day to go to the shows, and even if I appreciate the effort and the outfits, I wonder what exactly is the message? Let’s dress like crazy people? That’s never been my thing!”
I decide to laugh about it, and I write this: “How to get assaulted by a hoard of Streetstyle photographers (myself included).”
Yeah, I’m laughing about it, but the truth is, I’m starting to lose inspiration.
And what do I do when I’m tired of something? I change! This is the year when I get into videobsession – a new way to show you fashion week, that’s been show so much under any type of angle that it doesn’t have much more to show, the poor thing.
Front row, back row, backstage, everyone knows everything all the time, and instantly, we’re all saying the same things. Oh that’s when I write that. So I figure the best way to change things up a bit is to take you with me – literally.
We launch Pardon My French. Crazy amounts of work, exhaustion, giggle fits – I think this was the time in my life where I was the most generous with my time – and my physical and moral strength – for the blog. There are some really good videos, and some not so great, but one thing’s certain – it’s different. And we end up with moments like this…
I love this time in my life, even if it’s very difficult. It’s literally exhausting, but the team work, and learning so many new things is a lot of fun and very exciting!
There’s now a real system in place for bloggers, it girls, it Instagrammers, and streestyle – the outfits people wear to shows are extremely thought-out and calculated. It’s the craze of clashing looks, layering different pieces, and anything that attracts attention.
A system is in place for what’s now become a business. Each paper or online magazine has its own streetstyle photographer, each brand has someone in charge of digital media who lends clothes out to people who are likely to have their photo taken, and even if I do everything, everything, everything I can to stay fresh and enthusiastic, sometimes I have a hard time staying inspired.
I’m impressed with Scott’s detached attitude– we talk about it a lot, after all it’s a system we’ve helped create!– but I can’t help but be a little upset by it all.
Suzy Menkes writes her controversial article on the “The Circus of Fashion”. It’s a pretty harsh article denouncing the hysteria around fashion shows, and it kind of throws everyone and everything in the same category. I find this confusing.
Even though I don’t agree with what she writes because I think that deep down, opening up the fashion world is a good thing for everyone, from brands to journalists to stylists – I tell myself once again that it’s time to rethink how I approach fashion weeks.
I have a conversation with my team (I have a team!!!) and we decide it’s time to take an easier approach to fashion. We don’t get too extreme over fashion anymore at the Studio.
We have fun with it, we find inspiration in it, we still love it (of course), but we don’t feel like saying that a pair of shoes is “to die for” anymore, because that would sound almost a little too true.
And now we’re back to today!
I’ve just gotten back from the H&M show. I saw Dries Van Noten today, and I still feel the same emotion when I see his shows. I stayed for a few seconds outside of the venue, but I didn’t stick around – there were too many people, I almost got hit by a car while people where taking my picture. And at H&M, I got pushed really hard by a bodyguard when Solange Knowles was passing by – going to shows is getting dangerous! Alright.
This year, I’ve decided to do things thoughtfully, to go see the designers I want to support and who inspire me, to take photos of people who cross my path, and to stay cool.
I’ll only have time for a few videos this fashion week – but they’ll come back quickly!!! I love making them.
That reminds me of a conversation I had with Carine Roitfeld, when I had started to understand the repetitive nature of the fashion world. How did she do it, year after year, and manage to stay inspired?
She told me that as time goes by, things calm down. You start to seek out different things. A new model that inspires a fashion series, an attitude, a detail. Someone you meet, a gesture, a fabric, a piece of music, the way something is staged.
So that’s how I’m feeling lately. A lot more relaxed.
I really wonder how it will be eight years from now!!!
What about you? Since you follow me, and you follow fashion, whether you’ve grown with me or just arrived here – what’s changed from your point of view?
Tell me everything! Honestly, I can’t wait to see what you have to say and have a conversation.
Translation by Andrea Perdue
This illustration first appeared in Vogue Paris.