28 Oct 2006




A sampler of next week... Camden Lock








STYLE AND THE CITY

By the Style Scout.

LONDON and NEW YORK: Two cities: Two Styles.

WHILE reading The Sartorialist this summer, I started to understand the difference between New York and London fashion. In New York it seems to be all about super luxury and in London, fashion is more about creative self-expression. (I had a broken knee, which forced me to stay in the house giving me lots of free time to philosophize).

Perhaps because most US clothing is industrialised, made in China so inexpensively and sold very cheaply. One of the ways to distinguish and differentiate oneself in New York is by wearing the most luxurious-Italian-handmade-by-artisans clothes imaginable. “How do the Italians turn butter into tweed jackets?” asked one of my clients in New York, many years ago. “It’s soooo soft” he whispered.

Across the pond in London, individuality seems to be a big part of British culture. I have heard it stated as a sociology theory here, that "the trauma of war and the need for rationing forced the population into extreme thriftiness, and those wishing for style had to be creative ”.

Walking the streets –or hobbling on crutches--it become clear that this attitude remains imbedded in the culture still. In London there is an abundance of vintage clothes sold in street markets and stores and this constant supply allows for a personalized look at a very low cost, and many wardrobe changes. The one-of-a-kind style is extremely appealing, almost irresistible to the Brits and anyone here can make a statement on their lifestyle by the way they choose to dress. They can differentiate themselves by the use of unusual proportions or unexpected colour combinations...

It would be great to read other ideas about this comparison if anyone would care to share in the comments.






Marie-Antoinette review

My wife was happily surprised when I agreed, without too much resistance, to go to the movies in the middle of the afternoon. Of course I would like to see the new Sofia Coppola movie, especially since she has such a good aesthetic, begun her career in fashion (the brand she started, Milk Fed, is still big in Japan) and was one of Marc Jacob’s muse.

She has a great eye and because she has grown up immersed in the film industry, she can attract good talent for her movies. She was able to create a wonderful and sumptuously rich experience that I got to live for lovely two hours at the Brixton Ritzy Cinema last week...

I loved the ambient atmosphere of the movie and it felt as if I were sitting at the edge of the French court trying to eavesdrop on the conversations at the dining table. Sofia was able to convey the awkward anxiety of not being able to quite hear what your dining companions are saying. I loved the art direction, the colours, the blues contrasting with the paleness of Kirsten Dunst’s skin. She was cast perfectly as the good-hearted young Antoinette, who struggled to fit in but was never really accepted by the snobbish Bourbons.

Coppola said in an interview that she wanted to tell the story portraying the characters from their point of view, as if they were in a bubble, and in my opinion she succeeded.

The soundtrack worked for me, I couldn’t help but dance a little in my seat remembering the good times of the New Romantics. The movie was timely in that it mixed the astrosphere of so many eras so seamlessly: the late 1700s the 1980s when the UK was in social turmoil - the Thatcher Years- and now the “Bush Years”.

Four stars for stylishness, my highest rating, so thank you Sofia for a nice movie, and a nice afternoon at the French Court.

10 comments:

Lambchop said...

What is actually quite surprising is that we (french people) also went through a strong war (let's say for the last one..) but our style is really less extravagant than what can be seen on the streets in London. The average Parisian is rather classical I would say, and still very pragmatic. Quite strange, when you think of it.

Style Scout said...

Good point I need to work on that thesis or perhaps someone has a thought.

Nia said...

One thing about the Sartorialist, however, is that his photos are not necessarily representative of New York style as a whole--it's more representative of New York fashion/publishing industry insiders, who do tend to wear the most luxurious stuff. There's plenty of do-it-yourself and thrift store style here in NYC, and even among fashion-y folk, the goal is to look like no one else.

New Yorkers do covet luxury goods, though, it's true, and in a distinct way--we seem to be obsessed with quality, from perfect fits to super-soft fabrics, rather than labels.

boogie.styleman said...

Greetings Style Scout! Re: your observation of the apparent luxury of NY fashion. What your perceive, I believe, is a reflection of the Sartorialist's own particular brand of interest in NY fashion (especially men's fashion). Virtually all the men he photographs are a variation of a theme: either a suit/jacket/tie sartorialist, or if casual, then an urbane preppy kind of look. He seems to be interested in the "luxury" wing of men's fashion creativity... which is IMO a definite minor faction in NY (where I live). The fashion that I see in the street is much more similar to the fashion I see in your photography. Wild, creative, individualistic. All about personal expression. This could be because I am most likely to be found in those areas of NYC where such free spirits can be found: the East Village and the Lower East Side, or various parts of Brooklyn. Sart just seems to be fixated on expressions of men's fashion creativity within the constraints of suit/tie/pocketsuit. And the fellas that are of note within that realm are quite rare. Whereas the creative free-form fashion individual is much much more common.

Lambchop said...

Well it's true it all depends on the the photographer's personality. If I had to take photos, here in Paris, I would rather be attracted by blossoming flower dresses and "petite mademoiselle" style because this is actually what I do tend to wear.

Anonymous said...

Definitely go by what nia and boogieman have posted. The Sartorialist covers merely one of the style tribes that make up the NY scene. If one were to go to Barneys here in New York, the Sartorialist's tendencies might be found more on the main floor, and maybe on the fourth - more traditional, less trendy, less overt. Meanwhile, if you go to posting boards like thefashionspot.com or even stylezeitgeist.com, you'll find a crew of people who like luxury, but favor the likes of Dior Homme, Japanese street style and the Belgian designer aesthetic (lots of black). Like anything in fashion, it's all about the market.

Kelli said...

I know this won't be as articulate as I would like but I'm going to attempt to give my opinion. After the mid-90's American style became very commercial & homogonized (all those grungy internet start-ups spurred a whole cocktail crowd - i.e. new money). Companies like LVMH were there ready to educate the used Levi & Doc Martin crowd about what luxury means and spoon fed to us that it was not only self-indulgent but a smart 'investment' to dress well and carry a $800 handbag. Banana Republic made it affordable and continued to homogonize the masses. The chain stores popped up in every nook and cranny of every suburb. It's easy to dress in a classic way - it feels good to be wearing nice fabrics, etc. BUT there really seems to be a lack of individual style. It is here but at this point in time, American fashion feels stagnant which could be a reflection of the politics and economy. Perhaps if we get fed-up enough the mohawks (and local designers) will start sprouting up again. That will be a beautiful day.

Lambchop said...

But don't you think that when everybody is dressed in an extravagant way it is nothing but another step towards homogenisation of the masses ? I mean, we are used nowadays to seeing more and more people worshiping vintage stuff and buying their shoes on flea markets. Isn't it just another trend, the trend of individual style? I do fell, in Paris, much more extravagant wearing a classical floral dress, with classical bicolor pumps and classical leather bag than hanging around with pink hair, leggings and a pierced nose. I believe classical styles are soon going to be considered as the deviant ones...

Kelli said...

I completely agree with you, lambchop. That is what I was trying to say and am glad you followed up. I'm still lacking sleep and inarticulate but here I go again:

As long as the individual can think outside of the parameters that corporate fashion (e.g. Conde Naste) feeds to him then there will be individual style - even if that means dressing in a classic way. If others happen to be dressing that way because it is trendy, that person still remains an individual because s/he is being true to himself/herself. I also think authentic style is apparent when looking at that person. There will always be people that use clothing as a way to express individual style and then there are the crowds that follow that hope the fashion defines who they are.

Style is an art and fashion is an industry.

Lambchop said...

Nothing else to add. I agree each point of your demonstration :)