It must be weird being a street style celeb. It’s almost like being an actual celeb, only weirder because you spend most of your daily life being a regular person, then a few days of the year being pursued by photographers during fashion week. The phenomenon that is street style has become an industry in itself; photographers like Phil Oh and Tommy Ton have gained recognition thanks to their work outside fashion shows, capturing “candid” pictures of editors, celebrities and models, while many journalists and bloggers have found a kind of fame from it and, in many cases, more work. Because as everyone knows, ‘tis the Instagram followers that maketh the man (or woman).
But while the candour of such pictures is largely what has contributed to the success of street style photography (it was a move away from the very styled, very polished images that once were the only glimpse into fashion week), it might (not) surprise you to know that capturing the perfect moment is not, in fact, the effortless pursuit some might have you believe it to be. In fact, I have witnessed the toil and effort that goes into producing such imagery and right now, it mostly involves pretending to be on your phone while rocking on the spot. I know, it sounds exhausting.
There I was, waiting for my esteemed colleague Frankie Graddon outside of a fashion week venue, surrounded by frantic photographers all trying their best to avoid me, when I heard yells, saw a kerfuffle and wondered whether Mariah Carey was due to turn up on the front row. Sadly, Mariah was not in sight. What had actually happened is that fashion editor Giovanna Battaglia – a seasoned street style favourite – had emerged from a show and was, I assumed, heading for her car. After some casual posing, I heard shouts from the photographers: “Use your phone!” cried one. “Hold it up to your ear!” yelled another. Thus followed roughly ten minutes of this woman, dressed in right-off-the-runway Burberry (that made me think of The Nutcracker, in a good – nay, great – way), pretending to be on the phone.
Marvelling over the lack of irony and wondering whether Zoolander was actually a documentary, I realised that all the street style pictures I had seen recently featured fashionable people on their phone
While I was marvelling over the lack of irony and wondering whether Zoolander was actually a documentary, I suddenly realised that all the street style pictures I had seen recently featured fashionable people on their phone. I had just assumed that they, like me, enjoy making awkward calls to slightly annoyed friends (or, mostly, my long-suffering mother) when I find myself in an uncomfortable social situation, or merely want to avoid eye contact with literally any other human being. But no! They’re just pretending!
For me, this revelation is right up there with the faux hair-tuck, the move I like to call “I’ve just dropped something but am too mildly amused to pick it up” and the distant stare, which suggests either a deep consideration on the meaning of life, or an attempt to figure out where the closest Pret is. Anyway, while I accept how hilarious this insanity is, I couldn’t help but enjoy the spectacle, which I’m usually trying too hard to avoid entirely. As I walked through the crowds heading to the next event (by that, I mean lunch), I negotiated my way past many bloggers, editors and even some minor celebrities, all making their fake phone calls in the name of a good picture. I, on the other hand, felt quite uncomfortable in the presence of all those cameras. So, I rang my mum.