I know nothing about fashion. When it comes to fashion at Planet I leave that to Klara and Eva in the clothing section. The most my involvement there is to occasionally look for a t-shirt with a monster on it (I've bought two). Thus, I have nothing to contribute in regards to fashion.
But I really, really like Scott Schuman's photo fashion book The Sartorialist.
The Sartorialist began and still is a fashion blog by Scott Schuman who had left a career in the high end of the fashion industry to pursue photography. But he didn't go into regular commercial fashion photography but instead went into street fashion photography. Why, well, to quote Mr. Schuman from his own website, " I thought I could shoot people on the street the way designers looked at people, and get and give inspiration to lots of people in the process." And I feel he has done just that.
Of course, it's not simply that he's photographing clothes as worn on the street. If that were the case I wouldn't be writing about this at all. It is the people in the clothes that fascinate me. It's about their personal style. How they wear what they wear. How what they wear is an extension of personality. How the clothes become a statement of self rather than a statement of fashion.
It is how Scott Schuman captures that in his clear, realist photos of people casually posing on the street, whether it be a young guy with a healthy ego, a distinguished businessman outside a restaurant, a housewife who knows how to age with sexy grace, a receptionist getting a latte to go or some elderly street gent wandering the lanes. Thus, what I really love about The Sartorialist is that though the photos are intended as photos of fashion they are equally portraits of personality.
It isn't at all surprising that the fashion world has fallen for The Sartorialist and thus Scott Schuman now goes to the very fashion shows that he chose not to photograph, except he still doesn't photograph them. Instead he photographs the people around the shows, the organisers and the audience, and studies what is style when not paraded in the artificiality of the catwalk or studio. Indeed, he has successfully retained the spirit of his first New York street photos.
The book itself is a thick and rich collection of usually full body photos of people asked on the spot to pose for Scott Schuman's camera. Often he has comments (as from his blog) giving the reasons why he took the picture. The pictures themselves are good enough to justify the book but the comments are what make The Sartorialist a study on style and individuality as expressed through what you wear everyday.
Interestingly, when the usual fashion tome is large and most often designed to be a table book The Sartorialist is relatively small (though not thin) and thus rather a cheap book. It didn't surprise me that was intended. The book is aimed at the very people who Scott Schuman wants to capture in his photos, the average street person who is after an easily attainable sense of style. Of course, there is some outrageously expensive investment edition, but the real book is the one you can pick up off the shelf and take with you to a café and consume like a paperback novel.
Everything about The Sartorialist is about style. I don't just mean the clothes you see in the photos or even just the photos themselves. The whole thing, inside and out. From Scott Schuman's inspiration to take these cool photos and doing the charming blog and all the way through the process of having this modest yet beautiful volume in its physical form - which I'm sure is only the first - that will now be floating around cafes, design studios, bloggers work stations and independent fashion shops, all bent and stained from extensive perusal and study. All of this is an expression of individual style.
And if style isn't individual, it isn't style.