Topshop Unique Does the Modern Era at the Tate, Le 21eme Photographer Adam Katz Sinding is #NeverNotWorking & the Most Innovative and Effective Presentation We’ve Seen Yet
Fashion Week Journal for Sunday, February 22
See those brown velvet overalls? The baby blue corduroy trousers? The miniskirt? Those looks are not a throwback.
Sure, you’ve seen and heard a lot about the ’70s over the past (almost) two weeks, but backstage after yesterday’s star-studded show at the Tate Britain, Topshop Unique Creative Director Kate Phelan told me she’s not going retro, she’s encouraging a sort of reference-free way of dressing that favors personal perspective over time and place.
“British girls wear a flare, but it isn’t about the ’70s. They wear a toggle coat, but it isn’t about a schoolgirl look,” Phelan told me. And maybe some American girls that you know are that way too. Some French, Japanese, Italian, South African, Canadian and Spanish ones also. Phelan is allegiant to her stateswomen, sure, but all in one breath she appreciates, understands and dismisses geographical and era-specific idiosyncrasies.
“That’s the romance of fashion; you’re always interested in someone else’s references,” she says. Interested in, but not defined by.
(Side note: What did DJ Trevor Jackson play? Well, for one, The Strokes’ “Last Night”—that is, an American band doing an early ’00 take on ’70s Brit rock.)
No matter what decade, city or country we saw on the runway, these are the sort of clothes that girls want to wear. Plain and simple. Kicky skirts with high slits for long legs, red-red shoes, floral and faux fur that work from 9 to 5 and then some, and velvet for days. And this would be a good place to underscore that we just launched Topshop Unique online, and we’re opening more and more Topshop boutiques by the week.
Phelan (above) says she wants Fall ’15 to be about you, and about now. “This collection is about going deep and making fashion a part of your world. The joy of fashion is that it encompasses everything, but you have to take it and make it your own.”
The show itself was certainly full of women who seemed to navigate the world that way already, as you can see by these shots of their shoes.
And this might be a good place to underscore that I’m now without my wingwoman, Jessica Carter. Bear with me from here on out as I muddle through on my own. All the better to acknowledge my respect for a class of citizens that I’ve always deeply admired: photographers. And in particular, today, street-style photographers. Whoa, now that is a full-time job. We’re talking to you, Crystal Nicodemus, you lovely creature.
But we’re also talking about Adam Katz Sinding, the eye behind Le 21eme, which is only the most followed street-style profile on Instagram. (Okay, the Sartorialist has more followers, but at this point Scott Schulman is more like an editor than a photographer.)
We met up with Sinding, who happens to have Northwest roots just like Nordstrom, at the top of the swank Mondrian London Hotel, which is sort of like the UK’s version of the Standard, which you’ll remember from Paul Andrew’s presentation. Sinding and some friends were giving a Fashion Week party, but even though my friend and I arrived not-exactly-on-time, the street-styler was not on the scene. A quick phone call confirmed it: he had fallen asleep at his computer. Working.
Sinding hurried over in time to fulfill his hosting duties, and to chat with us about shooting for clients such as W magazine and life on the road.
Number of flights taken per year in the name of fashion: “I’m not sure how many flights there were, but I know on Delta alone I had 135,000 miles last year. I probably flew a quarter of a million miles last year.”
Number of cities visited per year: “Probably 20, but most of them I go to more than once.”
Alexa Chung at London Fashion Week by @Le21eme for @Wmag on Instagram
In the perma-packed suitcase: “Running shoes, duplicates of every grooming product I use in Rick Owens leather zipper cases, adapters and cables, a shoe brush to clean up [my white sneakers] after the day.”
How he manages to stay on top of all the bloggers and bold face names he shoots: “I worked in hotels before I started my blog, so once I know someone’s name I never forget it. We shoot the same people over and over, so it’s not that hard. But when there’s someone I don’t know, I can’t just ask them. I never ask them. I might ask my friends, or I’ll know someone the person is with and look through their pictures until I figure it out.”
Guys who shoot together party together; Street Peeper photographer Phil Oh was also at the party (he inquired about Caroline Issa and mentioned that he loves the new collection); DJ Vashtie Kola spun such tracks as “When a Fire Starts to Burn” by Disclosure and the Roland Bassline remix of “Acid” by King Cosmic
On the best image from New York Fashion Week: “I shot a girl in paint-splattered pants who I had never seen before; I couldn’t figure out who she was. I asked a bunch of people on Facebook and no one knew. It’s so exciting when you find someone you’ve never shot before. This girl was outside of Milk Studios; when she turned around and I saw her face, she had the most amazing blue eyes. I’ll probably never know who she was.”
On the ineffable quality of being photogenic in the eyes of street-style photographers: “I like confident girls. I’m intrigued by the way people walk, the things they do with their hands. It comes from a sense of personal envy for me; I envy their confidence and the power they seem to have. It’s easy to make a picture with someone who has bought all the right things, but I’d rather see a girl in jeans and a T-shirt who really knows who she is.”
Number of Instagram followers: 348,000
Number of posts per day: “I edit my shots and only post five per day. Every three hours. I post to my blog and to Instagram at the same time. It’s kind of an addiction, and you really have to get all the shots from that season in before the next one begins.”
And finally something completely different: An alternative manner of presenting one’s collection.
In another swank rooftop suite, this one at the Beaumont, designer Charlie May and her team managed to tweak the Fashion Week formula in a good way. Generally speaking, there are two ways you can show the season: You can do the runway, or you can do a presentation in which life models stand mannequin-like on display. Well, this Londoner staged a live photo shoot for her Fall 2015 look book, and invited everyone in to see.
Here’s to multitasking, huh?
“Different” isn’t always easy to pull off. “Different” can easily go wrong, or just seem … weird. But this really worked. A white seamless backdrop took up a lot of the room, sure, but there was plenty of space to watch as the model came out in different looks and posed for the camera while a stylist switched up the prop pieces here and there. In fact, staff circulated with champagne and salmon on tiny pancakes. It was really quite proper.
And also refreshing. Modern. Entertaining. Very meta!
@Clymdraws illustration of a Charlie May look via Instagram
Very, very meta: there was also a guy, Clym Evernden, doing live drawings of the live photo shoot. I’m thinking Charlie May is one to watch.