Style Recorder*

Thoughts on Being a Style Recorder in the Fashion World.

Above image: A moment with Viktoria Machajdik, Paris.

The Fashion Week season is officially over, which for me had one of the more peculiar endings since I started covering the event. At my last show (Moon Young Hee) I sat in front of two photographers who were sneezing their lungs out, one with the flu and the other with a cold. The next day I had the pleasure of flying back to New York for 8 hours sitting next to a makeup artist who worked on the Chanel show (with some great stories), who also spent much of that flight sneezing into the window beside him. I’m a bit of a germaphobe, no reason to pretend I’m in denial about that, so of course I spent ample time over the last several days feverently washing my hands and changing my shirts… I’m a freak, I know. … So you can imagine my exasperation to finally get off the plane and run away from civilisation for a little while. Only I’ve been sick now for the past several days. Luckily, it’s just a cold and not the flu variety. Or that Ebola business that have Americans fired up on Facebook like the citizens of South Park.

Long tangent: One of the things that I set out to do this season was really follow my own impetus on what inspired my relationship to photography with fashion… which I suppose sounds cliché and convoluted, until you understand how I spent the last couple of seasons somewhat satisfied with my images but wholly unsatisfied with what it meant for me to be there. Actually, I wrote about this very thing back in January; only it took me several more months to flesh out what it was that I was after. It finally hit me one day in Paris; just another day on the grind shooting street style, another day jockeying for position with all of the other street style photographers (many of whom I consider friends) for that perfect shot. … We were at Le Grand Palais lining up to photograph one of the fashionista girls when one person started yelling angrily at a friend for ruining his shot. Friends. Competitors. Whatever. I stood up and walked away thinking, Why am I rushing to photograph something that everyone else is photographing, to get an image I know I will never publish? We’ve reached a point where you can flip through the 10 major outlets for street style, cull an image of the same individual from each of them and place them on a table—the game is to name that photographer. Two years ago, I would happily play the game and tell you the technical difference between X photographer and Y photographer. Today, everyone has the same lens, everyone shoots from the same height regardless of their own, everyone sets to high burst to catch someone the way that one photographer happens to do it. They’ve become so good at mimicking that you cannot tell the difference. I took an old 1968 Minolta manual focus lens to my first Fashion Week knowing that my images wouldn’t look like anyone else’s, but at some point the competition overrode the creativity. It was at Le Grand Palais that day that I stopped mid-sprint and said to myself, Nope, this is not why you’re here. It is not why you love to document style.

When I look at Lord Ashbury at a glance post-Fashion Week, I feel like I’ve achieved some creative goals. The content on my front page looks very different from a lot of what you might find out there on other style blogs (perhaps not better, but certainly different). After the first few days of New York Fashion Week, I changed my bio line on Instagram from Fashion Photographer to Style Recorder. I like that much better. Street style is still an important part of what I do, but no longer more or less important than documenting collections or models as they prepare for runway shows. But I’ve made a priority to really go after images that in my mind are as unique and exclusive as possible. I’m sure every photographer who works can agree that there’s no feeling like capturing a one-of-a-kind image. We should all go back to wanting one-of-a-kind things for ourselves, too, and blogs are no exception to that.