Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fashademic at MBFWA

Hello! This is to let you know about my current series on Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. As you may know, I write a fashion theory and culture column on The Conversation (and will be posting much more regularly now, post-submission!). Right now, I'm going to a range of shows at MBFWA and writing thick anthropological descriptions of them to give a sense of what it is like to be there, and to sketch a thick portrait of the socio-cultural aspects that compose the event and make it meaningful to its participants.

This means I'll be standing in queues, writing feverishly in corners, rushing back and forth between my office at Sydney Uni and Carriageworks, and giving serious thought to which of my handbags best accomodates a bulging notebook (and which will be least marred if my fountain pen bursts blue ink everywhere.) I have written three columns already, outlining the project (and referencing the lovely anthropological writing of Clifford Geertz), giving an initial impression of what it is like to be there, and my first description on the show of Australian newcomers, Strateas Carlucci.

A description of last night's exquisite Gail Sorronda show will be going up later today, and I look forward to doing some gritty observation, you know, some really hard, exhausting, demanding observation... while drinking free San Pellegrino and posing for pictures... because I'm a srs academic (slash columnist slash buyer).

Meanwhile, I wanted to share a funny anecdote with you. I was leaving the venue after my first show yesterday, just started walking up the stairs to get back to uni when I hear a soft voice call out behind me "don't go!" I didn't really think it was calling to me, because I was there on my own and had been drifting around solo for quite a while after the show, but I turned anyway. There is Mr Streetpeeper himself, Phil Oh, DSLR in one hand, half-smoked cigarette in the other. He was looking interestedly at me and said "I just saw you walking past with your bag!" Ah, my little bag. It's a vintage Chanel number, and in the spirit of Lagerfeld's art students of this season, I had woven a bag strap to affix to it with carabiners from Daiso. Yep. I did. Was a big compliment to my make-it-up-as-I-go approach that he thought it was a new piece from the collection, and ok, who doesn't want to get photographed outside a fashion show? Super flattering. Even if your resting camera-face is a grimace (uh-oh) and even if the whole time he's taking your photos you're looking after him calling 'is this right?' I'm not even joking.  

Meanwhile, as I'm walking up the stairs "naturally", thinking "just look normal! Just look normal!" and feeling like a deer in the headlights, three or four other photographers materialise out of nowhere, with DSLRs instead of faces (or so it seemed), crouched down and snapping away furiously as I walking slowly up the stairs... grimacing. It was pretty funny, I have to tell you. 

Then I had a good chat with Phil Oh at the top of the stairs, and as I said goodbye (back on mission to uni and blushing hard), he runs out onto the road, shutter still going a million clicks a second. I looked back in alarm as a security guard yelled out "watch out for traffic!" and an oncoming car drew back really fast. Luckily, we all escaped unscathed, except for my hard blush which burned for at least an hour after the fact.

And these, my friends, are some of the resulting shots:


Tommy Ton (!) for Style.com (!!) (both of whom I reference in my PhD but whatever no big deal) (J/K TOTZ A BIG DEAL)

From pedestrian.tv (actually, this one was taken later as I came back for Desert Designs and was actually talking to my friend T. The smile is me laughing with her at the situation and her laughing on the other end. All communication with the photog was mimed as I was all 'do I walk?' with hand gestures, and he was all 'pose. smile' with hand gestures. Mr. Photog, I salute you- I feel like I look like myself here which is really nice and kind of funny considering our exchange!)

Phil Oh for Vogue.com

That's all I've got right now, but here's a close-up of my DIY Chanel strap because if this is it's two seconds of fame, I'm really going to make it work.



Meanwhile, the shows are why I'm there and they've been wonderful so far. Do join me on The Conversation so we can nerd out together through thick description!

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