Monday, 27 February 2012

Mary Fellowes, fashion stylist, blogs on The Woes of the Fashion Bloggerazzi

If power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, the same is true of fame. Whitney Houston is its latest victim - there have been countless others before her, and countless more to come. Its victims’ demise isn’t always as dramatic as Whitney’s - death is final and dramatic whether suicidal or accidental in celebrities, but the slow erosion and corruption of a character is in some ways just as sad.

Fashion has often crossed over with fame in the Venn diagram of entertainment and celebrity – more so than any other design form due to its relationship with glamour and the human form. And there is nothing wrong with recognition and achievement - or becoming a household name. As with any fame, the key to it is when fame and recognition has been earned. That makes it easier to live with - the inevitable symptom or by-product after years of coming up through the ranks, jumping through hoops, performing the endless monotonous rites of passage that others have done before to get to the top. 

But what about when fame is not earned? What threats lurk within the psyche when fame has been bestowed instantly, in a heartbeat? There is no need to lament the victims of reality television during the last decade, as it is a given. But the rip-tide of instant fame is claiming new victims for itself: in the fashion world. The ‘bloggerazzi’ have turned fashion week into an ugly circus of attention seeking wannabes, feeding and fuelling egos of its subjects with flashbulbs for sustenance.

Out of nowhere in the last few years, an army of apparent nobodies has swelled in numbers, taking over the front line, making entering into a show like running the gauntlet. More often than not clad in outlandish and forced looking outfits, they have adopted the customs of the paparazzi but sadly they have none of the clout.  Because outside of the microcosm of fashion, no one is interested in what Japanese Vogue’s Anna Della Russo (the bloggers’ favourite) is wearing.

Thanks to the bloggerazzi, a tragic parade now takes place in all the fashion weeks. Since the dawn of the international fashion collections, all of us in the industry have always seized the opportunity of fashion week to have a bit more fun with our outfits, but the presence of this battalion, emerging from their trenches with semi-professional cameras poised like shields, has generated a giant extra swathe of pretentious, attention seeking dressing up and poseur behaviour. Their incessant snapping away feeds straight into the ego and insecurity in each one of their subjects, giving them the illusion that somehow they are - well - famous.

Where is all of this imagery going?  I wondered that when I got ‘papped’ for the first few seasons while the bloggerazzi was in its infancy. Did I play along with it? Sure I did, at first. But after a while, it becomes incredibly tedious. You go to fashion week, surprisingly enough, to work. The schedule is gruelling and the brain switches between overdrive and overload by the second, by the hour. And after wasting time posing for a group of self-important, self anointed pseudo opinion formers, you realise that so few of these images they shoot ever make it into a domain big enough to justify all the hype and chaos, that actually it is not really worth it after all.

It is not to decry fashion blogs per se. There are countless very successful fashion bloggers out there – Tommy Ton, Tavi, Bryan Boy, The Sartorialist, Susie Bubble, Liberty London Girl and so on. They are the democracy to fashion publishing’s autocracy. David takes on the publishing world’s Goliath and wins. But these pioneers are unwittingly thorough, they attend the shows and have a unique point of view that is worth hearing – and which is why Dolce and Gabbana made media history by putting them all front row several seasons back at their D&G show in Milan, next to super-snapper Mario Testino. And which is why some of them can earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in advertising and brand collaborations.

But it is the legions of street-style snappers, the bloggerazzi that ruin it for everyone else, that turn it into a cliché and a soap opera. Millions and millions of pictures of street style, filling up the world wide web’s vortex with junk and simultaneously creating the myth of fame for people who are otherwise regular people with full time jobs in the fashion industry. They are not performers or actors with immense talent that can reach out and affect the hearts and mind of the great public, they are actually store buyers, writers, editors and stylists. But all these people’s overnight status can escalate within the bubble of the fashion industry, giving them an illusion of disproportionate self-importance. The danger is that people could start believing their own hype and succeed above other more talented, less attention-seeking colleagues, purely because they gained a little fame in the fashion bubble – style over content, the book’s cover mattering more than its story inside. It feels as if Warhol is laughing all the way to the bank.

Mary Fellowes is a London-based fashion stylist. A former assistant to Isabella Blow at British Vogue, Fellowes currently works as a consultant to a number of fashion houses and her work is regularly featured in Vogue.


  1. this is amazing- exactly how I felt this season- it's just all so tedious! very well written and voiced- thank you

  2. Well written and very on point. I've been to LFW twice and both times was shocked at the amount of people who attend, and dress, purely in the hopes of being snapped. Outlandishly dressed wannabees whose raison d'être is to be star of the month on someone's blog. The success of susie bubble, tommy ton etc has bred an army of impatient folks who want a slice of that lucrative pie. I wonder about the longevity of a lot of personal or street style blogs. How long will images of pretty girls in cute outfits be popular? I purposely use blogging as an outlet for something I feel is lacking online and think having a unique POV will separate the wheat from the chaff in the long term.

  3. this is nicely written, and definitely makes some thought provoking points....

    however, it seems a bit disingenuous to suggest that the only bloggers that are worth their salt are the ones that have become "successful". it seems to me that they are also the only ones that have become famous. it's a bit hard for me to take seriously your plea that editors & buyers not be so focused on becoming "famous", while apparently it is ok for bloggers to become as known for their personalities and style as much as their writing.

    i also wonder where the current obsession with street style will lead, but it seems to me a bit unfair to imagine that the only "good" bloggers are the ones who are "successful".

    no? i'm sure you wouldn't suggest that the only "good" editors, designers, buyers or stylists are the ones who happen to make larger salaries........ if that were true, fashion would be a boring world, indeed.....

    thanks for the provocative discussion!

  4. I do agree with you on many points and actually I was just about to write something similar (and I will) since I'm just back from Paris Fashion Week. Street-style has become a circus, there's no doubt. People get dressed up only for the street-style photographers, it's not their real style, there's not doubt too.

    But I also disagree for many things.

    First, the people that actually made clowns of the like of Anna Dello Russo become famous for their ridicolous outfits ARE Tommy Ton and their fellows. The "bloggarazzi", as you call them, just followed the trend they set.
    In Jak&Jil, Stockholm street style or other top street-style blogs you see always the same people: ADR, Caroline Issa, Taylor Tomasi, Miroslava Duma, Elisa Nalin (of these I don't like only ADR but still, the same faces over and over again)

    The only top street style bloggers that are actually doing REAL street style (= people in the streets with interesting style, not fashion celebrities with the strangest outfit possible or the last IT accessory)in my opinion are The Sartorialist, Garance Doré and Phil Oh.

    As for the "domain not big enough", mine, for example, is not. But I do street-style and runway reports that are worth watching because I have a different point of view and I try to deliver quality stuff even with my "semi-professional" equipment. I shoot only what I like and find interesting and on my blog you'll never find the fashion celebrities. I like my photos and I think I'm more than free to take them outside the shows and post them, as does any other blogger with a minimum of sense of style and a true passion for fashion (and don't want to get just free clothes or invitations)

    And I'll say it just in case you'll misunderstand: I don't feel self-important. At all. I don't think that my blog is the best, or that I don't have to improve. Far from it.
    Actually reading those lines up here I got quite surprised because I never talk of myself or celebrate my blog or my artistic work. But I really felt the need of self-defense. Yes, your words offended me, a bit.

    And if I can tell you the truth, I feel quite pissed for the fact that I spend bloody nights editing photos, writing long posts, making fashion illustrations and trying to deliver a quality content and in the end I get those miserable 400 visits per day when the Tavi that you like so much gets 100 times more by just publishing a post with random wiccan-psychedelic-goth adolescent inspiration "stolen" around the web.

    Really, enough with this despise of smaller bloggers. Most of the times they feel much less self-important than the big ones even though, surprise surprise, they do make very good content too (even better sometimes, I'd say)

    Have you ever took 10 minutes time to see what's REALLY around the blogosphere? To read the blogs of people that might not have the numbers but do actually say something interesting? Well you should. Or better, you should have done so before talking about them and their "junk". That's what a person that wants to write a good, well documented and critical piece usually does.

    And I'm sorry, I don't have anything personal against you, I actually liked your provocative article from a certain point of view but really, enough. Enough with this "blogging aristocracy is good, new bloggers are junk" kind of behaviour.
    I'm tired of this crusade against smaller bloggers because often their only guilt is to do something that they genuinely love. To me, it sounds exactly like saying that I can't paint because I'm not Van Gogh. I hope you get my point.

    (and sorry for my bad English, I'm not a native speaker)


    -The Red Dot-

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  6. Sadly it has not been considered that fashion is in the eye of the beholder, and not reserved for royalty and otherwise self appointed celebrities and stylists. Although I agree with most of the comments of Fellowes, fashion is not what is dictated on the runway, but made popular being worn by the public and street walkers posing as fashionistas. Much of what has been seen worn in streets actually belongs to the back streets, and funk has very little room in my perception of style, so yes, let it not become a circus, and stop giving publicity to clowns in the making.

  7. wise words, the fashion week street/images/fashion/blogging has been milked to the bone, sadly you cant see the wood for the trees, because the are some very good bloggers/ street style snappers out there, I personaly try and stay away from the rest of the hype, and stick to who does it best.
    good post:)

  8. You are 200, if not 300 % right. I talked about that on my blog as well a couple of weeks ago. A leisure activity called "Lets go out and hangout in front of the shows and get photographed" is kind of sad.
    And as Al commented above, I believe nor Mary, nor I were having people like you in mind, when commenting on this phenomenon. There are people, who are passionate about fashion and there are people who are passionate about fashion giving them a chance to celebritify themselves. And it all does seem a bit ridiculous when you go to the shows.

  9. You seem to be complaining about ADR, but you forget that the people you're defending (Tommy Ton/Sartorialist) actually made them. besides, so now bryanboy has got a unique point of view worth listening? and what is it exactly? Sequins, champagne and an ego bigger than the entire world? And if you hate the bloggerazzi, well, haven't you noticed that the sartorialist is actually one of them and that he also behaves like an SS officer when looking at the people to 'shoot'?

  10. Testino is the best fashion photographer and if you ask me he is the kindest also! Estate Agent

  11. Very interesting post AND discussion in the comments.
    I believe that if one blogs with an authentic voice, then quality will out, no matter how many readers/followers.

    Fashion has always been a soap opera. With the film industry, it's the one of the most stressful places to work in the creative arts (in my opinion). There are a LOT of screamers and drama queens.
    The undeserving command attention in all professions. They devote a great deal of energy to achieve that outcome.

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