The art of being in street style

Jo Ellison on the peculiar set of rules that applies for those seeking street-style stardom

Sarah Harris, British Vogue’s fashion features director

Sarah Harris, British Vogue’s fashion features director

“I just can’t bear the circus,” a fellow fashion editor sighed contemptuously as we battled through scores of photographers on our way to one of the Paris shows last season. “All those ridiculous women parading around in their ludicrous outfits, just waiting to be photographed.” Absolutely, I nodded vigorously. Silly women. Why would any anyone want to be photographed?

Bloody liar, whispered my ego from a dark place deep within my twisted psyche. Surely if one is at the fashion shows, front and centre of an industry built on admiring that which looks good, then it is beholden upon one to scrub up. At the shows, where one can measure one’s self-worth via the intensity of the shutter clicks, appearing in a street-style portrait is the ultimate validation. Why would anyone want to be photographed? Why wouldn’t they?

That said, a peculiar set of rules applies for those seeking street-style stardom. To court a portrait is unforgivable. Instead, one must feign obliviousness of the 50 or so photographers around you. Should they decide to shoot, you must appear unaware. To loiter is a no-no (we all have a tale of that woman who crossed the road back and forth for fear of being missed). Interaction is ill-advised. Unless you’re just being friendly. Street photographers are as familiar as family after a month on the road.

Acknowledging the camera upsets the finely tempered authenticity that must accompany the image, you see. The picture must seem candid, natural and unstaged. In order to maintain this wildly theatrical conceit, you are allowed to fall on certain props: fiddle with a strand of hair, or make a phone call — during which you are permitted to offer an unsolicited smile. Tim Regas dedicates his Instagram account (@wheresmydriver) to those portraits of fashion editors standing kerbside staring beautifully into the far distance while trying to locate their show taxi (British Vogue’s fashion features director Sarah Harris features in his feed). His pictures exemplify the classic stance: feet slightly en pointe (elongates the leg), neutral face and mobile clamped to ear (adds a touch of feminine vulnerability to one’s expression, showcases your diamonds and accentuates cheekbones).

And yet, be wary of what you wish for — no tools or filters can be employed to edit the results. The candid street-style snap remains exactly that and, if your foundation is badly blended, your jeans are “wedgie”, or your brow is deeply furrowed, the camera will capture your every physical neurosis. So remember: always, always, always keep your chin up!

[ByJoe Ellison] [From FT] [Read More]