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Fashion editors have become the new celebrities of fashion week, thanks to the rise of street-style photography.
This story first appeared in the November 16, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
They have gone from observers of fashion to fashion plates, where every step they take is captured and then quickly posted online by street photographers such as Tommy Ton and Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist.
It’s the new reality for those attending runway shows, where celebrities like Vanessa Paradis — Paris fashion plate, Chanel model and wife of Johnny Depp — are now ignored in favor of writers from obscure indie publications, said Dirk Standen, editor in chief of Style.com, part of Fairchild Fashion Media. “There has been a huge shift over the last five or six years,” said Standen. “Street style is no longer the sideshow, it is the show.”
Photographers such as Ton and Schuman are responsible for raising the profiles of editors such as Elle’s Kate Lanphear, who is easily identified by her shock of white-blond hair, or the biggest street-style star of them all, Anna Dello Russo, editor at large for Vogue Japan. Clothes are shown on the runway and then quickly shuttled to Dello Russo, so she can wear them for the cameras the next day. “She’s the first to say that her first job is to style herself,” said Standen.
But bloggers aren’t the only ones embracing this trend. Fashion designers have jumped onboard and credit street photography as inspiration for their collections. Alber Elbaz, for example, noticed on some blogs that women on the street were wearing eveningwear during the daytime and he incorporated that into his collection.
Dolce & Gabbana was the first big-name fashion house to embrace Ton and Schuman, inviting them to sit front-row at its show in September 2009. “This was shocking at the time,” Standen recalled. “But it was very smart of them and shows how quickly designers acknowledged the power of street style.”
These days, Standen noted that most designers reference pictures of street style in their work studios. Standen said he likes Ton’s work, partly because he has a “fashion editor’s eye,” and notices the shoes, the bag, the accessories. “And, he spots trends early, often before the designers do.”