If Street Style Photos Could Speak

In the age of influencers, personal brands and Fashion Bloggers (not to be confused with plain old fashion bloggers), sharing one’s outfit has seemingly become the only way to reassure people one is not, in fact, running around in the nude.

By consequence, street style has ditched the street and upped the style — or, rather, styling. Call it the Vogue factor — the phenomenon that spawned camping’s cooler, albeit less sincere sibling, ‘glamping’. Fashion’s old guard is notoriously stubborn, but cunning enough to go with the zeitgeist on its own terms. Sleeping outdoors? Fine, as long as there’s a minibar. Photos of real people’s outfits? Sure, as long as they’re walking replicas of runway looks.

Perhaps my perspective is askew, and I’ve missed the point. Maybe street style was never about the clothes per se, and Tommy Ton is more Annie Leibovitz than Vivian Maier. That is, maybe the purpose of street style and fashion editorials is one and the same: to tell a story.

It’s not farfetched if you think about it. A picture says a thousand words, or so the adage goes, and if we’re to believe the culturati, an outfit speaks volumes about its wearer. Who’s to say Phil Oh isn’t asking, “Papa, can you hear me?” when he shares a photo of a bewildered looking Marina Larroude? How else could he justify repeatedly taking the same photo of someone on their phone? Photography is an art, you guys.

With this ethos of blind faith in the creative integrity of the fashion industry, I revisited Phil Oh’s Spring 2016 street style coverage for Vogue.

This is what I came up with.

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Ece Sukan doesn't have time for anything, because she's engrossed in her long durational performance piece, 'Un-Real Housewife of the Interwebs'. It's a comment on the media's facile construction of femininity, at direct odds with Sukan's own complex sense of self. The Artist is Present, just give her a second to like this tweet.

 

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By the same token, Edwina McCann and Christine Centenera are three years into their ongoing performance simply titled 'Kimye', with the duo playing Kanye and Kim respectively.

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Ever the boundary pusher, Anna Dello Russo isn't just imagining what it would be like to have facial hair, she's inviting us to look beyond her signature style and seek the real Anna Dello Russo.

When we can simultaneously see and not see Anna Dello Russo, what constitutes reality?

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While ADR asks us to really look at her, Caroline Vreeland and Shea Marie appeal to our own insecurities.

Who, me? Is she laughing at me? Maybe she's laughing with me. This is the first day of high school all over again, and quite possibly the inner monologue of every street style photographer.

That's actually the title of this piece.

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Giovanna Battaglia isn't just a fashion editor, she's a pop art aficionado. Fittingly, her bag is a nod to the face that launched a thousand beauty tutorials, Kylie Jenner. Like Duchamp with his readymades, Battaglia's utilises un objet trouvé -- in this case, a bag by sister Sara -- to modify her visage, in the style of Orlan before her. This isn't street style, it's cacophonously referential pop art to rival Warhol himself.

That, or I've spent way too long looking at street style.

All images via Vogue.

FashionNusardel Oshana
Ruffled Up

Left to right: Roberto Cavalli, Zimmermann, Francesco Scognamiglio, Marques ' Almeida spring 2016. Background: Ellery resort 2016

Garish ruffles that erupt from garments. Languid ruffles that melt over the body like molten lava.

Childish ruffles that call to mind the unassuming sensuality of Nabokov's nymphet.

Jagged crystalline ruffles resembling a cliff's edge.

Miniature ruffles, restrained and precisely trimmed. A Romantic, sprawling cascade of ruffles.

FashionNusardel Oshana
Recommended Reading

First, the obvious: this blog has remained largely untouched for months now. I was going to write at length about blogging and growing out of it, but instead I've compiled a list of things I've read and enjoyed lately.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Plus, a couple of things I've written for Nombre recently:

Art & CultureNusardel Oshana
Modernity is the Mode at Australian Fashion Week

Having abstained from fashion week last year, I decided to make the most of it this year.

Instead of attending as a blogger, I had the valuable experience of shadowing Tania Debono and assisting FABY Australia‘s social media team backstage. In the midst of frequent trips in and out of the media room and one harrowing experience in the pit (cue screeching violins), I attempted to document the week on a disposable camera.

By some cruel act of fate, my experiment failed.

Contrary to my assumption, 24 exposures — most of them poorly lit beyond help, at that — weren’t enough to properly document the week’s standout shows. Hence my rantings and ravings about some of the incredible collections on show are accompanied by whatever digital snaps I could muster. You’ll have to fill in any gaps.

Without further ado, the collections.

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Backstage at TOME


There was the TOME show — just short of momentous for the local industry, given Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin have only shown in New York before. Combining pre-autumn and autumn/winter pieces, the show was abundant in the crisp shirting and subtly subversive notions of femininity that have become the label’s signature, and established the tone of modernity that followed throughout the week.

At STRATEAS.CARLUCCI, that sense of modernity translated to broad coats and billowing flares, rendered in neutral shades and juxtaposed by kaleidoscope-printed jacquard suiting. Here was a collection intended to dissolve the distinction between everyday clothing and transcendent fashion — something the label does very well. If this week’s show is any indication, the label’s on-schedule debut at Paris later this year is sure to be a success.

No overview of Australian fashion is complete without mentioning Maticevski. Like Raf Simons at Dior, Toni Maticevski is renowned for his ability to imbue the most traditional garments with a youthful modernity befitting his contemporary clientele. This season Maticevski reasserted his infamous aesthetic — a sculptural confluence of the pristine and the gritty — whilst introducing unexpected new elements, like an array of titillating gold looks with the appearance of solid metal. Not only were the garments superb, the show itself highlighted the designer’s exponential growth — a word one wouldn’t normally associate with Maticevski, who tends towards the same silhouettes in each collection. Maticevski’s growth is akin to Karl Lagerfeld’s at Chanel — that is, it lies in his ability to keep things interesting, season in, season out, without straying from what his customers evidently love.

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Backstage at Alice McCall


More so than ever, the line-up this year tended towards the up-and-comers of Australian fashion — relatively unheard-of designers who are rapidly gaining traction both locally and internationally.

Among them, Khim Hang of HAN, who drew on his Cambodian heritage and streetwear influences to create a collection of basics with a conscience. Fashion with feeling is a rarity in the dominantly commercial Australian fashion industry, and Hang has been applauded by the local media for his commitment to social justice, having recently established a small factory in Cambodia, where his collections are produced.

Meanwhile, both Daniel Avakian and Ashkar Line — the latter a recent amalgamation of designers Jamie Ashkar and Tristan Melle — took a different tack, showing womenswear for the masses. Wearable and characterised by fluid simplicity, both collections echoed the adage that one needn’t reinvent the wheel in order to succeed. Provided the necessary care and caution, this trio of rising talents will have little trouble finding a sustainable customer base.

If the aforementioned collections illustrate anything, it’s the abundance of womenswear to be had at MBFWA. Australian menswear, it seems, has withered away, relegated to the less-followed graduate collections. Shown in the Raffles International Showcase, DE LA MOTTE made a strong case for Australian menswear, with a collection of well-constructed, relaxed basics inspired by designer Anne de la Motte’s country upbringing. Judging by post-show chatter, the collection’s prints — borrowed from paintings by the designer’s mother, artist Gillian de La Motte — were crowd favourites, as was one dusty-toned take on the peak-lapelled coat.

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Backstage at Romance Was Born


The highlight of the week came during my final show for the week. In a salon presentation at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, titled ‘Cooee Couture’, Romance Was Born showed the fruits of a collaboration with artist Linda Jackson. The collection of handmade one-offs was a continuation of Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales’ ongoing exploration of Australiana and, by the designers’ insurmountable standards, hardly an extravagant affair. The irrefutable highlight of the collection became evident post-show, when editors and buyers alike leapt from their seats to photograph Ruby Jean Wilson, transformed into the ‘pearly sea urchin bride’ at the centre of Romance Was Born’s tableaux vivant. Watching from a distance, I couldn’t help but reflect on how far the industry has come, and how much further it will go.

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Sophia Webster heels, backstage at Romance Was Born


Images originally shot for FABY Australia.

Ashton Eramya is Going Places

To call Ashton Eramya talented would be a great understatement.

He scored his first full-time job as a stylist at Eclectic Edition in his first year out of high school, and has been making a rapid ascent ever since.

Much like the man himself, Ashton’s style has experienced a maturing process that initiated itself immediately after he graduated from high school. In a massive shift, loud all-over prints have given way to a muted colour palette, and Ashton has begun to embrace classics like trench coats, white shirts and denim, reinterpreting them in his own authentic way.

The shift in aesthetic has also extended to Ashton's styling work, which exists on the boundary between luxe, sleek minimalism and trend-driven fast fashion — a testament to his ability to work his strong aesthetic into a commercial context with the same ease with which he wears Birkenstocks.

Given the direction in which he's headed, you'd best keep an eye on Ashton's work. I've no doubt you'll be seeing a lot of him in the future.


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Coat by Insted We Smile. Pants by August Street. Sunglasses by Ksubi.


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Shirt by August Street. Shorts by August Street. Sneakers by Adidas.


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Shirt by Ben Sherman. Pants by August Street. Sneakers by Adidas. Bag by Proenza Schouler.

A Romance Was Born Collection to Celebrate

Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales of Romance Was Born have always been the type to go against the grain.

If last year’s drug trip-inspired ‘Mushroom Magic’ show at MBFWA didn’t make that evident enough, this year they chose to forgo a traditional runway presentation entirely. Instead the duo approached artist Rebecca Baumann to produce an installation at Sydney’s Carriageworks, titled ‘Reflected Glory’, that combines art and fashion in an entirely new way for the label. The installation is centred on Romance Was Born’s latest collection, which draws inspiration from the various celebrations and rituals that have defined the designers’ lives.

Each dress in the collection references a different celebration or ritual. One dress, for example, was constructed from the Madonna t-shirt Luke wore when he first met Anna at a house party, and was appropriately referred to as the “house party dress”.

Each piece in the collection is a one-off piece, and a demi-couture sensibility pervades the garments. The bodice of one dress was cut from iridescent silk the designers had custom woven in Paris, while another piece features mirrored leather that was printed in Italy. Some pieces were created from repurposed pieces that the designers had collected for later use, including various vintage pieces.

The designers said they wanted to take a break from the fast pace of the industry, and the installation, which will be open to the public until May 11, was the perfect way to do so. By removing many of the distractions -- like music, which the designers say they are constantly “thinking of” throughout all stages of design -- the significance of the clothes is heightened.

In fact, the only sound in the installation is the grinding and squeaking of the revolving centrepiece created by Rebecca Baumann, and intentionally so. The overarching intention of the installation was to allow people, and not merely fashion editors and buyers, to see the garments up close at a slower pace, and to account for the double takes that are required to truly appreciate a RWB collection -- something both designers and artist achieved perfectly.