Monday, February 29, 2016

Philadelphia Street Style: Aubrie, Chestnut St

I could see Aubrie's vintage Liz Claiborne scarf from hundreds of feet away, that classic color-blocked patchwork that Claiborne has made so synonymous with her brand. Funny how a simple pattern of colors can come to represent a designer's entire oeuvre, even items not marked with it. Aubrie has paired the scarf with another vintage Liz Claiborne item, that black topcoat. She's also wearing a black "work trouser" and some black suede boots. The bag is from H&M. 

Aubrie describes her style as "urban street style with a twist." The twist is the most important part, that intangible something that an individual injects into the cultural mix. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Colin Anderson at NYFW Mens, Washington St, New York

Colin is wearing a women's coat from Landeros New York in this shot. New York Fashion Week may have split into two separate events (mens' and women's), but the fashion itself is increasingly blurring that distinction. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Philadelphia Street Style: Vonnysemaj, Chestnut St

My street style photography has always been circular. I seem to loop back around to a certain core aesthetic, an aesthetic, I might add, that has remained essentially unchanged since the late 1980s: black jacket, tight black pants, band T-shirt, big boots, and a scowl. This is street style as I originally conceived of it, and I'm not ready to let it go.

Fortunately, I can find plenty of people on the streets of Philadelphia who share my aesthetic. Like, for instance, Vonnysemaj, who I waited for outside a CVS when I couldn't quite catch up to her before she went in. Vonnysemaj is rockin' an updated black "bomber jacket" (she can't remember what brand it is or where she picked it up), a Forever 21 Ramones T-shirt, a vintage fanny pack, worn front and center, and boots she got off of  

Now, some of what I just wrote needs some unpacking. First, I put "bomber jacket" in scare quotes, because to me, bomber jacket has always meant something different: one of those soft brown-leather coats fighter pilots wore during World War I and II, and which reemerged in the 1980s as a symbol of mainstream American masculinity. The kind of jacket Vonnysemaj is wearing we called a "flight jacket," and that's still the official name given to the original military-issue MA-1 jacket that inspired the bomber jacket trend. When I was a teenager, these were the preferred jackets of racist skinheads. They were worn with an American flag sewn onto their right sleeve. Kanye probably deserves some credit for bringing them back into public consciousness, as do a number of other streetwear trendsetters who have made "bomber jackets" a staple of any street-savvy wardrobe. Bomber jackets, it seems, have shed their older racist associations, and to do so, they had to undergo another kind of erasure: a changing of their name. We could call this process "re-appropriation." I would be tempted to think of this as the kind of subcultural "semiotic guerrilla warfare" Dick Hebdige glamorized in Subculture: The Meaning of Style, except for two things: 1)There is no longer a singular subculture to whom the jacket belongs. Vonnysemaj, after all, describes her own personal style as "funky, edgy, with lots of leather." She calls it "punk rock slash..." Leaving what comes after the slash unfinished. That incomplete slash speaks volumes. 2) I strongly suspect most of the teens and twenty-somethings I see out on the streets wearing bomber jackets have absolutely no awareness of their former associations. This is semiotic guerrilla warfare without the semiosis. And that, of course, is the beauty of fashion: it strips clothing of context, empties its signifiers of content, so that all that's left is their surface aesthetic. It is a kind of pre-articulate revolution, a slow undoing of a problematic past.

Second, Vonnysemaj is wearing a Ramones T-shirt by Forever 21. Let me write that again, a Ramones T-shirt by Forever 21. When did fast fashion companies become the primary caretakers of rock merchandise? There was a time, not that long ago in the grand scheme of things, when The Ramones were seen as a countercultural force. Now Forever 21 prints thousands of cheap re-issues of their old shirts. Fashion, that is, may be a revolution, but it is a revolution that ends in the bargain bin. It does real semiotic work, but it does so, ultimately, in the service of capital.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Philadelphia Street Style: Charlene, Walnut St

I'm taking a break from posting my pictures from New York Fashion Week. After a while, those images start to get old. All flash and no substance. Clothes that even those adorned in them don't actually wear apart from Fashion Week. I start to get hungry for something more grounded in everyday experience, something that feels more "real" or "authentic." So last Friday, I went out scouting the streets of Philadelphia. That's where I saw Charlene.

She describes her style as "eclectic." "Some days," she says, "I wanna dress up, and I wear a dress. Other times I wanna dress funky, and I wear holey jeans and cowboy boots." In this shot she's wearing a fox fur jacket from Maximilian Furs (go ahead and send me your hate mail, animal rights activists, but I am reporting, not endorsing), Via Spiga suede shoes (off frame), sunglasses which may or may not be Tom Ford, and some off-brand plaid pants.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Justin Gossman of Wilhelmina Models, NYFW Mens FW 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

Chriselle Lim, before Jill Stuart, New York

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Jessette, Washington St, New York

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Not in Service

Monday, February 8, 2016

Ariam Sara Geffrard, Washington St, New York

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Guys of Elegant Mens Style, Washington St, New York

Friday, February 5, 2016

Jennifer Stevens, Houston St, New York

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fabrizio Oriani, Washington St, New York

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New York Fashion Week: Mens FW 2016, Day 2

Considering that this is New York Fashion Week: Men's, I really ought to have chosen a picture of a man to post today. Yeah, I didn't do that.