09 January 2011

Fresh to death, dressed to impress

Listening to: Arp and Anthony Moore, "Spinette." Instrumental, sparse, and absolutely lovely. Be patient, the piano kicks in halfway through. I don't know what "modern classical" music is but if it's all like this, more please!

When I wrote the blog book a few years ago, I put a list together of 250 blogs, organized by categories such as food, gossip, photos, sports, politics, etc. Back then fashion blogging wouldn't have come close to making the cut because the only one I knew about was The Sartorialist. Now fashion blogging is such a huge, and influential, scene that it would demand its own sub-section.

If you don't know about The Sartorialist, check it out because it's fantastic. I used to have a lot of conversations about the site with my friend, as we both ogled over Scott Schuman's photos and website. As his Wikipedia puts it, "[Schuman] pioneered fashion photography in blog form." Truth. Another thing I really enjoyed about The Sartorialist was that it's always been hosted by blogspot, which was so not cool five years ago. Having "blogspot" appended to your web address is now perfectly professional and acceptable but I feel like that's been a very recent change -- and in my mind The Sartorialist helped that process along.

What I wanted to show you was this short documentary about The Sartorialist camera stalking the streets of New York and also talking about his influences and process. Over the years, the thing that has really set The Sartorialist apart from imitators is the quality of Schuman's photos and fashion aesthetic, which is a direct result of his impeccable eye. At the 2:16 min mark of the video he says [talking about how he got into photography]: "I just kind of started doing it. So for me, it's so instinctual the way I shoot. The way I do it is just the way I do it."

Immediately afterward we get to see his interaction with someone who's captured his attention in Chinatown. Schuman half-circles the girl and her friend as they cross the street. He takes just a few seconds to check out the background and scene, and then he approaches as they wait for the light to change.

"Excuse me, sorry," he says to the taller one that has caught his eye. "Do you mind if I just do a fast photograph of you standing just like that?"

"Um, what's it for?" the woman says, totally guarded and still texting into her smartphone.

"I do a site called..."

"...the Sartorialist," the girl's companion cuts in as she recognizes Scott.

"Oh!" the tall girl says as both girls then start half-laughing, half-giggling. After a few quick snaps, Schuman's done and as he thanks her, she says, "I love your site, sorry I didn't know who you [were]." She's just been street spotted by The Sartorialist! What an absolute thrill right?

I don't know how many photos Schuman managed to snap in that short time but the end result is stunning, as usual. I'm about the least fashionable guy ever -- my wardrobe comes from three stores -- so if you're typically well dressed, let's hang out and see if we can go stalk the Sartorialist and get him to turn the camera on you.

While I'm here, I might as well keep the fashion blog talk going. Check out some articles below if you're interested and these are my three favorite fashion blogs of the moment.

Street Etiquette: Most of the fashion blogosphere is dominated by females so Street Etiquette is a bit of a rarity. Joshua and Travis, both from the Bronx, have really great posts with detailed photos and I appreciate the little historical nuggets they sometimes throw in. SE also has some short videos about item etiquette too, like this one about the waistcoat. Oh and check out one of their newer projects, The Black Ivy (video).

Karla's Closet: There are a ton of fashion blogs featuring someone's every day style but Karla's Closet stands out to me because the posts are uniformly excellent and the fact that she lives in the Simi Valley but dresses like she lives in cities all over the world fascinates me. Plus Karla used to be in a girl band called the Slumber Party Girls. Here's a sample song, which has a 3LW kind of appeal. Karla shows up at 1:09 min.

a l'allure garconniere: I absolutely failed my high school French AP exam but thanks to Google, I can tell you that the translation for this blog's title is "has the boyish looks." Julia's blog is awesome because she explores the political and activism side of fashion and recent posts have featured her thoughts on the feminist blogosphere and a short documentary about two fat acceptance fashion bloggers.

Stylites.net: I don't regularly follow this but a friend's ex-boyfriend moved to China some years ago and inspired by The Sartorialist, he started Stylites, which then vaulted him into the Shanghai fashion scene. I believe his college major was Middle Eastern history or something like that. Wild.