Ever heard of Anna Dello Russo? Natalie Hartley? These women are fronting a new phenomenon which is tackling our celebrity obsessed culture head on, moving away from the polished ‘style icon’ (think Cheryl Cole or Posh) to the people who actually know a little about fashion, and how to wear clothes. Up until now, the people who work behind the scenes at fashion magazines have been a mystery. Now it is them who we are pining to look at, not because they are the beauty of the season, married to the footballer or starred in that film, but because we want to see their clothes, and how they, the people who create the trends, wear the trends.
It seems fashion is returning to its roots, back towards appreciating personal style and creativity, with a particular British edge that quite likes a gap in the teeth (think Lara Stone) and messy hair along the way. Natalie Hartley, the ex Sunday Times Style magazine Fashion Editor, used to have a single page every week called ‘Natalie Hartley Wears…’ where she would tell us how to work the latest fashion thing, à la Natalie. This page was initially a shock to those accustomed to seeing perfection in print, as Natalie was portrayed as a regular British girl who looked like she drank and smoked a little too much the night before each shoot. Natalie was channelling the Sunday morning look, albeit wearing a host of fantastic clothes. Every week I felt she was trying to mirror the reader, in an effort to reassure them that they too could pull off this or that particular look. She was the ‘cool’ girl who was a little bit out there, but only just enough to make her style choices interesting and not daunting to recreate.
It seems fashion is returning to its roots, back towards appreciating personal style and creativity
Visitors to elleuk.com will know that it too publishes daily photographs of the people behind the magazine, in its ‘What ELLE wears to work’ feature. Over the last week we have seen Editor Lorraine Candy sport a camel coat and kitten heels, looking very proper and ready for the office, and Stacey, the Executive Fashion Editor, teaming a big scarf, Diesel jeans and YSLs with socks. This daily upload of how the fashion’s insiders, who are normal people living without daily blow dries and stylists, successfully team looks and trends provides the rest of us with the belief that we too, with a bit of imagination and creativity, can look as good as they can.
Then there is Anna Dello Russo, the Fashion Director at Large of Vogue Nippon, who has been transformed from the girl who works at Vogue to an absolute streetstyle icon by Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist blog. Their relationship has developed to a point where the photographs are no longer taken at random, but planned, so Anna is able to style herself, like she would any model.
Anna explained that “the whole streetstyle thing these days is like a job, it’s all planned and thought up in advance; it’s not as though you just ‘happen’ to run into one another. Outfits are prepared in advanced … I just hope it doesn’t end up making it lose it spontaneity and make it become fake.” And that is the worry, that our fashion editors are treating this as a job, and thus have an vested interest. They create the magazines we read and are also becoming our style icons. We have to make sure we keep looking for real people – the one group with enough intrigue and integrity left to fire our imaginations and ensure the industry does not become too insular.