Behind the scenes 6th February 2023 by Grace Mollaghan
What Actually Is Street Style And Where Can You Find It?
Street style: fashion envy at its finest
When we think of street style, we tend to think of the glossy, highly edited paparazzi photos of Kylie Jenner that are splashed on the front of every newspaper, but real roots of street style and evolution to what it is today, is far more interesting.
From fashion editors, influencers and celebs, street-style is notorious for giving us fashion inspiration and more importantly, fashion envy.
Notorious cult fashion magazine i-D (now owned by Vice Media) was the first publication to take pictures of real people in the street, just as they are. The magazine, rooted in 1980s subcultures, found popularity in its authentic representation of people’s style rather than a glossy version of the elite style that few could obtain. These photos, taken sporadically on the street of London, were originally titled ‘straight-ups’ in the 1980s and featured everyone from Punks, Teddy-Boys, New Romantics and any other subculture you could think of.
At a time when people made their own clothes and dramatic self-expression became a point of pride in youth culture, straight-ups became an authentic way to capture the youth quake in London at the time. In i-D’s straight-ups, subjects usually stood against a blank wall to have their photo taken. Captions were placed at the bottom or side of the photo, giving a some back ground to the photo, such as where some of the pieces were from, or the occupation or hobbies of the subject. This small glimpse into a stranger’s life blossomed into the eclectic street-style fashion we recognise today.
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With the evolution of straight ups came a new type of photographer. The reality and spontaneity of the street allowed photographers break out of their studios and become inspired by real-life people, events and style. Not only did this give an added depth to their photography, but it also allowed them to capture the mood and aesthetic of changing eras. Through the lens of street-style, we can track changing attitudes, values and culture.
Photographers such as Bill Cunningham, an unassuming, petite character, forever captured in a long blue coat, was the first official street style photographer. He pounded the streets of New York City search of the most glamorous silhouettes, colours and patterns, which often included a young Anna Wintour at the beginning of her career. Now at the helm of Vogue for nearly 40 years, the editor notes that everyone “dressed for Bill” rather than whatever fashion show or event they were actually attending. Acielle, also known by her instagram handle @styledumonde, is one of today’s most prolific and in-demand street style photographers right now and is definitely worth a follow.
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What is Street-Style now?
Street style has evolved immensely since the dawn of straight ups and with the exponential growth in social media, everyone is their own street style photographer. Now, at the entrance of runway shows and events, the world over, you can find photographers galore – cameras at the ready to snap influencers, editors and the creme-de-la-creme of fashion’s elite. When attending a fashion show in 2023, it is more expected than hoped that you will be snapped on your way into a show, with many celebs even hiring their own paparazzi and street style photographers so they can ensure the best angle and a little FaceTune where needed.
Street style is now a firm device in fashion communications and more often than not, still reflects the most interesting and imaginative fashion senses of the fashion industry. We can still track the progression of society’s values and norms by these photos and I believe this will be the case for many years to come.
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