I was asked to cover the Fashion Week in a street fashion photography style.
First participation in the fashion show: Christian Dior!
I took my camera, some lighting equipment, a few lenses, only one battery (I don’t know what I was thinking) and some memory cards. I walked from my house to the Rodin Museum with a strange feeling of calm and anticipation at the same time. I was so curious about how things worked in these kinds of shoots. There are always those details and tips that no one will tell you and that you won’t find in books or online; I was so curious about the logistics of street fashion shoots. Where do I fit in? Will people agree to be photographed? Will they pose? Is it on the fly? Too many questions!
I got closer and you could see that something was going on, but it was still discreet. People were surrounding the entrance of the Rodin Museum and the police were preventing anyone from moving around. The weather was nice but not very warm. There were people of all ages and styles. School girls, teenagers, fashion lovers, people from all over the world, middle aged people, professional photographers, amateurs, bloggers, official press photographers (lots of photographers!), videographers, people with notepads taking notes on who was wearing what… it was crazy!
Colors, makeup, beauty, perfection, charm, sloppy, quirky, ordinary, classic styles, accessories, shoes, bags and brands. Lots of brands. I had to figure it out, see what was going on and how I felt so I could shoot. And everything was so new, so I had to see, see and see! But these are such outgoing events, ideal for photographers, almost in need, and it’s such a freedom for us.
So I started to do my job. I decided that photographing people driving up to the entrance was a waste of time for me. I didn’t want to fight for a quick photo without choosing the light conditions. So I focused on people arriving on foot or by the Metro. The Metro station was right around the corner, the light was bright and intense, and the wall next to the station was perfect as a background.
The Metro exit was like a weird mouth from which the face of my next photo would emerge. And it would be a surprise. Male or female, his/her outfit was going to be a choice, a statement, with references in periods, trends and styles. I think that’s when I finally understood fashion for the first time. I actually think that it has almost nothing to do with clothes and their use value in society, in the same way that haute cuisine has nothing to do with the need to eat. It took me all this time and one fashion show to understand what was obvious to me about the photography industry. Photography is not a tool for representing, reproducing and measuring objects as people thought in the early days of photography. It is a medium that uses its form to express views on our perplexed world. That’s what fashion and haute couture is all about. But I couldn’t see it clearly because of the social utility and use value that clothes have at the same time!
It seems to have more to do with the fictional part of these needs than with the realistic ones. That’s why I think it has more in common with the fiction industry, the movie industry, and that’s why it’s so classist. I didn’t realize all that on the spot. I just felt drawn to the possibilities around me and the ways in which I could create images. And it’s such an intoxicating feeling. Every person that came in was a character, a statement.
And it was super exciting. And even though haute couture is so classy, fashion week as an event, especially the outdoors part, is especially popular. You can be anyone, wear anything. I think that the street itself is more democratic and more tolerant against appearances for those who are already there. It’s so paradoxical and so strange, but at the same time so fitting for the event that celebrates fashion design.