While Paris Fashion Week was in full swing, there was a futile debate between US Vogue and (high profile) fashion bloggers: some of the Vogue editors accused indeed bloggers of peacocking around in the streets before and after the various fashion shows clad in paid-to-wear fashion and over the top looks.
None of the two categories is innocent in all this: Vogue, after all, mainly focuses on stories revolving around fashion designers/brands/labels wealthy enough to buy advertising spaces from Conde Nast, while the magazine never criticises a fashion collection fearing of losing advertising money and fashion show invitations. Bloggers may have started as outsiders with a style and mind on their own, but (the youngest and most photogenic) have now been clearly co-opted back into the system, getting money out of collaborations, sponsored posts and apparitions at catwalk shows.
In a nutshell, this futile debate sounded like an orchestrated quarrel to reshift the attention on Vogue in times of crisis, after all, multiple editions of Vogue all over the world include features, videos and interviews with bloggers, not to mention the rather vast Street Style sections with a wide range of pictures (including quite a few bloggers) of people enjoying their peacocking moment.
Maybe US Vogue would have been more credible if the magazine had criticised not fashion bloggers as a category, but the lack of original styles in the streets.
A quick look at the images taken at the latest fashion weeks will indeed allow you to spot the trendiest dresses, coats and accessories as seen on the runways of the world, proving that, quite often, the people portrayed do not have a personal talent for matching and combining things, but a commercial relationship with a major fashion brand.
While the late Anna Piaggi tended to combine, mix and clash designer garments with market finds, in most images seen at the latest fashion shows there is a lack of authenticity, the subjects portrayed seem indeed to have been brainwashed by a specific label, designer and trend, and there seems to be a lack of a serious unique style (some bloggers are indeed becoming the parody of their own selves, pumping up one or two young designers sold at avant-garde department stores with which they have a commercial relationship).
Anyway, among the various images taken there was one that proved rather intriguing: it is a portrait of artist and actress Zoë Bleu Sidel (daughter of actress Rosanna Arquette and niece of the late actress Alexis Arquette) in New York and it was taken by Phil Oh for Vogue.
Coming from a family of actors and maybe living in her own fantasyland, Sidel seems to have a penchant for combining together different elements from various eras (well, that's a trend for the next Spring/Summer season...): in this case she layered a golden fabric on a blood red, electric blue and green skirt that may have been part of a traditional costume, matched it with a velvet bodice with puckered white sleeves and then added a coin belt at her waist. Accessories include what looks like one of those cheap wooden fans that Flying Tiger sold during the summer and orange Maison Margiela Tabi boots.
Now, while this look may be the result of a series of casual or calculated choices by a crazy stylist or by Sidel herself (she has a sort of arty fashion collective - Nautae - with her two best friends and fellow artists - Arielle Chiara and Darius Khonsary), the final effect, her hairstyle, and pose with the layered fabrics and accessories, resembles something out of a Francesco Paolo Michetti painting from the 1800s.
Acclaimed for his paintings such as "The Process of the Corpus Domini", Michetti was a master when it came to creating portraits and scenes revolving around traditions and folklore.
Episodes of strong popular religiosity depicting pilgrims and devotees, funeral processions and portraits of shepherdesses and peasant men and women, are among his favourite subjects.
From paintings Michetti then moved onto photography later on in his life, becoming an early street style photographer as his sepia and black and white portraits of peasants also prove.
While Sidel was definitely channelling her most theatrical self in this picture, the colours she combined, the style and the pose call to mind Michetti's sketches of a dress donned by an Abruzzese woman dressed for church (1885/1888), and the clothes of the women in "Young Shepherdess", "Guidando il gregge" (Guiding the herd; 1880-1890), "Ritorno dalla campagna" (Return from the fields), "Mammina" (Mum, 1877) and "Lungo il fiume paterno (Il Dileggio)" (Along the fatherly river/The Defiance, 1888).
It looks like - in future - the most interesting inspirations for what regards fashion may therefore come via combinations of fabrics, accessories and styles from various times and sources and not definitely from just one (or from multiple) trendy designers. In this case the Renaissance-meets-shepherdess-meets-Margiela time traveller look proves to be a winner.
So, you like the idea, and you really want to indulge in your peacocking and annoy Vogue & Co, outside runway shows? Ah well, confusing them all with some styles, costumes and ideas borrowed from paintings sounds like a good option. Before they dare complaining about you/your style they will indeed have to go online or to the nearest well-stocked library and study their history of art...