Over the past year I rediscovered my love of fashion photography and writing. This seems particularly ironic given since the start of March we have been more or less living in a constant state of ‘all dressed up and nowhere to go’. More than ever I feel we need an escape and since proper travel out of the question, sartorial adventures it is! In lieu of style inspiration on the streets, I’ve been reading books and watching films which feature dress as a major component of the story. Costuming when done thoughtfully can set the scene and illustrate a character’s personality and their arc over time. This is because there is always an element of storytelling in fashion.
A certain collar or cut of denim might be evocative of the 1980s, while a plaid yellow skirt set will forever be synonymous for Cher Horowitz, in the Clueless (1995) southern Californian adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. There’s also the allegory of the fashionable French woman as an emblem of France’s national identity. There’s the soft power diplomacy of Dior’s New Look in the 1950s or Yves Saint Laurent’s designs embodiment of the sexual revolution of the 1970s. There’s also Irving Penn and Slim Aaron’s iconic fashion photographs, and their modern torchbearers Naima Green, Nima Benati and Dario Calmese. There’s the democratization of fashion through social media, and endless sources of inspiration like Krystal Bick’s cinematic styling or Onyi Moss’s lush use of color and texture. Fashion at its best can be thoughtful- reflective of culture and art and a testament to craft.
Perhaps the old saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ rings true. In this slower season, many of the traditional reasons to get dressed no longer are part of our daily lives. I have found that I crave it more than ever. At the same time, I couldn’t justify a new wardrobe every time I needed a serotonin boost. For one, it’s not very realistic, and secondly, it’s not particularly sustainable. I find that there’s enough messaging about the relentless push to consume, that we constantly need more in order to be enough. I never want to contribute to those pressures and I am trying be more mindful about slow fashion. Yet as a blogger, finding new sources of inspiration to recreate or style a look is part and parcel to content creation. This is where my Rent the Runway subscription was a saving grace. With the closet in the cloud at my fingertips, I have been able to plan and style creative shoots around my home or out and about in the city. It’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made and I’m delighted to now be able to offer an ambassador’s code RTRFAM5588702 for 40% off the first two months of a 8 item or 16 item membership.
These photographs, for example, were inspired by a few different pieces. I had recently re-watched the cult classic The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and was struck by Miranda Priestly’s zinger of a line: “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.” I adore a dark, moody floral for the fall and winter months, especially when paired with jewel tones, velvet and boots. This Delfi Collective design caught my eye instantly for its mixed florals but also the details that make a difference. The Printed Camille Dress features pearl button cuffs, a pleated skirt and clever tie at the waist. Why not carry on with the seasonal reverse and shoot in a rainstorm? I have always loved the seminal scene in Singing in the Rain (1952) and last week we had the perfect misty drizzle for it. Big red umbrella in hand, we ventured down to Logan Circle’s Historic District, where brick townhouses and beaux art staircases made for the perfect backdrop. Given DC gets more rain than snow even in the height of winter, Washingtonians are used to dodging puddles no matter their threads. Stood on Vermont Ave at 6pm, my hair curling in the damp and racing against the setting sun, we received a few bemused grins from passerby, walking their dogs or making their way home. Perhaps days later they thought of the young woman with her giant umbrella and floral dress, and it brought a smile to their face. Which is in some ways the heart of why I love fashion blogging- style is another kind of storytelling. One which can bring joy or laughter or inspiration or strength or confidence or nostalgia to those who see it. One which, by physical nature of clothing itself, is inseparable from the people that wear them. As Margaret Atwood wrote: In the end, we all become stories. So why not tell mine through fashion?