homage to sartorialist

“Fashion” as an industry is intimately connected to brand marketing, and in this sense seems almost by construction self-negating.  If you’re being sold a “look”, then it’s not your own, and therefore you’re a consumer, not a producer.  Just as T-shirts are mostly ads (from which it follows that one should be paid to wear them, not the other way round), branded fashion objects are also, visually re-tweeting “prada!” or “zegna!” in a solipsistic loop.  They’re not even ads “for” anything other than themselves!, sort of the sub-minimal life form or prion of human culture.  A violence.

Then, a year ago, Adrienne sent me a link to the Sartorialist, a beautiful blog by a fashion photographer gone rogue, taking impromptu pictures of people on the street.  (Though hardly obscure– he’s been doing this since 2005, and has been listed by Time among the top 100 design influencers.)  Usually, though not always, the subjects aren’t the sort you’d find modeling on a runway.  And usually, each subject is in some way totally arresting.  What makes the subjects of Sartorialist’s photos so special is the way they create visual presences that express something with amplitude, something with intense them-ness.  In this sense it’s the exact opposite of fashion as I’d always conceived it.  Whether the materials used come from the world of branded fashion or not– and they sometimes do– is irrelevant.  They’re just that– materials.

A person, a thing, a composition, a whatever, that is precisely what it is, is beautiful.  Like the White Stripes’ “Cannon“.  Maybe once every few days I see a person or thing on the street that gives me that feeling.  And now we always have a camera in our pocket, right?  I’m not Scott Schuman, but I can still give it a try.  Here’s something inanimate from a few weeks ago.

spotted on a bikerack in westlake

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4 Responses to homage to sartorialist

  1. Seth Olsen says:

    I also enjoy that bicycle. Nice.

  2. People watching is what I miss most — and there isn’t a whole lot — about not living in Paris anymore. Seattle simply doesn’t offer that much in terms of people exercising the ultimate self-expression.


  3. blaise says:

    Yeah, lots of tracksuits and other baggy things. It’s so far from Paris or NY. But there’s a certain aesthetic, when you’re in the mood. The hats on the guys hanging out in Oddfellows, the tattoos on the baristi in Vivace.

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