Creative Arts Book of the Week 23 May 2016
There are lots of lovely new books coming into the library at the moment but Brent Luvaas’ Street Style: An ethnography of fashion blogging seemed an appropriate choice. If you’re reading this at home, you’ll be pleased to know that it is also available as an ebook. It is part of the Dress, Body, Culture series from Bloomsbury Academic and we have a number of them in stock in the Library. The book may be of interest to students of fashion, photography, media as well as sociology, cultural studies and anthropology. I know that a number of design students’ dissertations relate to ethnographic research so it might be useful to see how Luvaas developed the methodology for his research. Not only did he research the work of and talk to fashion bloggers, he became one. He claims that the “book was written ‘on the street’ through a day to day interaction with the city of Philadelphia… and was written online through ‘fieldnotes’ posted… on my street style blog, Urban Fieldnotes.” (p.19.) Striking images from the blog punctuate the book, illustrating concepts of the public’s representation of itself, the democratisation of fashion, the business of street photography, and the life of the fashion blogger blurring boundaries between the professional and amateur commentator.
The first chapter takes a look at the history of street style photography and includes examples of the work of Eugene Atget, Henri Cartier Bresson and Bill Cunningham, ‘the original street style photographer’. It also includes an iconic image, ‘Punk Girls in London’ which featured in I-D Magazine. Whilst having a look for a link I came across this free exhibition at the British Library, celebrating 40 years of Punk – a different kind of street style.
Next, Luvaas gives us a global tour of the blogosphere. What is interesting, is that the people in the images are foremost individuals, they are not representative of a particular geographic type. An alternative stance from the traditional fashion press where, for example, different versions of Vogue, are published for different countries: Vogue (UK), Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris and all of those countries listed under the banner of Vogue International.
Chapter 3 offers advice “on becoming a style blogger and knowing whom to shoot,” acknowledging that the real stars are the subjects of the portraits and the following chapter explores what street photography reveals about its subjects and what they reveal about themselves. I was photographed in Commercial Road one dinner time; thought I was helping out a student, but apparently it was published in some kind of Porstmouth freebie magazine! Fame, how flattering! Of course blogging can also be a business, if you get it right and this aspect is covered in the following chapters. Luvaas uses New York Fashion week to exemplify how street style has changed, “Street style is dead. Long live street style!” (p.283).
I really enjoyed an insight into the world of street style and I guess part of the attraction was the striking photographs of the subjects. Certainly worthy of some extra research. We have lots of street style and related books in the library about punks, mods and other youth cultures, which undoubtedly include lots of photographs. Discovery will find you lots of academic journal articles. You can explore the blogosphere for yourselves, but here are 25 Best Street Style Blogs to get you started. Enjoy!