Fashion’s first backstage photographer explains new media’s effect on the industry

In a recent interview with Dazed, fashion’s first backstage photographer Guy Marineau discusses the immense changes new media has brought to the industry. After 40 years photographing fashion behind-the-scenes and candidly, Marineau, now 70-years-old, is quite possibly the only authority who can truly shed light on this subject.

It seems now that fashion shows and street style are all smoke and mirrors; an industry that was once centered around art and quality now revolves around labels and advertising.

“Before the 1990s fashion week didn’t mean anything to anyone,” Marineau tells Dazed.

“That may come as somewhat of a surprise if you have experienced what is now the fashion week norm: a narrow, Parisian street outside a show, swollen with editors and Ubers, street-style photographers and their subjects, who linger with intent, smoking with a studied aloofness,” Dazed continues.

“This exact scene is re-enacted multiple times throughout the week, roughly four times a year per fashion capital, in what is perhaps emblematic of an increasingly chaotic, ever-expanding industry.”

Christy Turlington by Guy Marineau [source: Guy Marineau]
But, things didn’t always work that way. Not too long ago, fashion week was a completely different experience. In fact, it was an experience, period. Now, the four continuous weeks that make-up fashion month are more like a serious of pseudo-events documented on social media platforms by the starlets who occupy the front rows.

According to Dazed, “it was before this pre-internet, pre-street-style era that Marineau first began to document fashion week, unwittingly creating a template for much that we now take for granted.”

As bloggers, video bloggers (“vloggers”) and social media influencers begin to sport the styles shown on the runway during fashion month, true fans of fashion long for old school editorials–not sponsored content created to get likes and views, and increase sales, on Instagram or Snapchat.

“The atmosphere in 1980s fashion shows was completely different from today. Paris was a source of inspiration, it was a free, wild city without any real competition at the time. Backstage, there weren’t many people around, just models, the designer’s team, the dresser, prop masters, two or three hairdressers, very few make-up artists. Girls would generally do their own make-up,” Marineau tells Dazed.

“There was much more freedom than now. It was an era of unaffected, relaxed, happy and rather good-looking young women who would go and have lunch with us between two fashion shows. They were far from the unhealthy-looking models of today. Backstage, models would read literature while waiting for the show to begin, but today it’s been replaced by selfies. Taking your own picture by yourself or with others has become a way of life. But who am I to judge?”

Once upon a time, models were far from household names in the United States. Today, they have millions of social media followers and fans of all ages. Not to mention, they are now synonymous with celebrities. They no longer quietly read while waiting backstage; they snap pictures with one another to post across various social media platforms, which receive thousands of views within seconds.

“Professionals and fashion cognoscenti would attend the shows without knowing much. Unless they carefully read women’s magazines, they’d only notice events on the scale of Christian Dior’s New Look,” Marineau continues.

“Today, many people have unwittingly become fashion experts. But is it normal that fashion should change so often? Can it be said that fashion is a form of art reflecting both a specific time and society?”

Kate Moss by Guy Marineau [source: Guy Marineau]
This change brought about the need for more fashion photographers. As soon as backstage photography like Marineau’s became prominent, designers saw it as a successful means of advertising. Tempted by a growth in recognition and sales, both designers and photographers began trading their creativity and craftsmanship for acceptance by the mainstream media and mainstream consumers.

“Fashion photography became a job in the mid-1970s when houses like Saint Laurent and Calvin Klein decided to turn these presentations into a bigger event to advertise their fragrances. Now, it’s still about sales, but, for me, the charm is gone,” says Marineau.

“I used to see fashion as a large playground where you could experience the highest stress or the biggest joys. But it also was a unique and authentic opportunity to express who you are.”

Once cameras become more accessible and photography became a pastime for many, fashion photography changed immensely. But, despite the advancements in technology, the number of photographers in the fashion industry shrunk from 350 to approximately 15 in a span of approximately 30 years, according to Marineau.

“Every magazine, every paper, every press agency had their own photographer. So each of them had original images, a different angle, a different light, a different shot. In the 1980s there were about 350 of us, photographers approved by the Chambre Syndicale. Today there’s only about fifteen. Now all the magazines and websites all use the same pictures–bland, processed, edited images,” Marineau says.

“That means Vogue France can contain the same photos as Elle Germany, Brazilian Bazaar or Chinese Marie-Claire”

Gisele Bündchen by Guy Marineau [source: Guy Marineau]
Not only have cameras themselves changed, photography software has, too. Now, anyone with an iPhone and the photo-editing app VSCO can make editorial-worthy images. This has led to a very monotonous array of both backstage and street style images. Airbrush and other photo-altering tools designed to remove imperfections take away the uniqueness and the charm from an individual’s images.

“For me, there’s no merit in it anymore, because it’s no longer photography, it’s informatics. Post-production has become more important than the shooting itself. Photography, photos-graphos in Greek, means ‘writing with light.’ Software takes this ability away from you. You can be a very bad photographer and a good Photoshop user, so you’ll still deliver images,” Marineau continues.

“It’s become too simple, too easy.”

Gucci embraces geek chic at Milan Fashion Week

It’s been two years since Italian-born Alessandro Michele began as creative director of Gucci, and in this short amount of time the 44-year-old designer took the famed fashion house in a new, much more modern direction.

[source: Elle]
On Wednesday, February 22, Michele debuted a unified men’s and women’s Fall/Winter collection during Milan Fashion Week, according to Elle. The 120-piece collection–known as The Alchemist’s Garden: An Anti-Modern Laboratory–featured a “madcap mashup of styles shown on models who wound their way through a glass tunnel set next to a pyramid with a weathervane on top.”

Emphasis clearly was on the future from the get-go; even the invitations read “What Are We Going To Do With All This Future?”

[source: Elle]
Michele gave traditional Gucci a futuristic, over-the-top twist.  “A hodgepodge of looks inspired by various decades as filtered through the Gucci lens,” including a sparkling full-length bodysuit paired with a relaxed t-shirt and cut-off shorts, an ornate white gown covered in floral appliqués and an all-black outfit complete with a mysterious eye-covering hat fit for a femme fatale, according to Elle.

The collection was “a magpie’s delight, and truly [included] something for everyone.”

Of course, none of Michele’s collections are complete without a layers of accessories and embellishments; he is, after all, a former leather goods design director for the label, according to Business of Fashion.

“Models rocked mullets, carried chinoiserie umbrellas [and] donned multiple fanny packs,” according to Elle. A few even carried luggage down the runway.

[source: Vogue]
Amid septum jewelry and a sea of bold patterns were plenty of cardigans, tea-length skirts and high-rise socks that looked as if they belong to an impossibly chic 22nd century granny. Outfits were accented with a plethora of pearls, oversized collars and librarian-inspired eyeglasses.

[source: Vogue]
Another notable accessory on Michele’s most recent runway was the oversized belt. Leather belts adorned with metal details contrasted the feminine floral prints and tartan plaids they accessorized, while 80s-style shoulder pads and hairdos seemed fashionably out of place on oriental patterns. Headwear was also big; most models wore larger than life hats, thick headbands or hair-hiding head scarves as they made their way down the catwalk.

[source: Vogue]

Does politics have a place in the fashion industry?

For me fashion has always been an escape from the so-called “real world.” From the time I could walk I remember playing dress up with both my dolls and myself for hours on end. As I got older, fashion–whether it was reading magazines full of it, illustrating it or photographing it–was there for me during tough times throughout my teenage years.

And, when I got to college in the fall of 2012, I started taking fashion much more seriously (and professionally!) after landing an internship as a contributing style and beauty writer for The Campus Companion, a college media network based in Massachusetts.

Though I had been exposed to both fashion and politics my entire life, I remained pretty off-put when the two seemed to merge more greatly than ever during the 2016 presidential election. I often found myself thinking, fashion is supposed to be a getaway from the stress of everyday life, but now the two are so intertwined.

Multiple times a week there seem to be a politically charged incident in the fashion industry making headlines all over the world. From t-shirts and panties emblazoned with slogans to reports of editors refusing to sit next to First Daughter Tiffany Trump at a runway show, New York Fashion week was filled to the brim with prominent political undertones.

23-year-old First Daughter Tiffany Trump smiles in the front row of Philipp Plein’s fashion show [source: New York Daily News]
On Monday, February 13, President Trump’s younger daughter sat front row during Philipp Plein’s Fall/Winter 2017 fashion show. Former Wall Street Journal columnist Christina Brinkley tweeted a photo of Tiffany Trump with several empty seats next to her.

“Nobody wants to sit next to Tiffany Trump at Philipp Plein, so they moved and the seats by her are empty,” she wrote.

Days later, on February 16, Brinkley tweeted the following:

“The two seats remained empty for about 2 minutes before others sat there. Then Philipp Plein’s sister made them move so she could sit there.”

However, a report from New York Daily News by Minyvonne Burke states otherwise.

“Several fashion editors took to Twitter revealing that people were scrambling to move their seats because they didn’t want to be near the 23-year-old,” according to Burke.

Alyssa Vingan Klein, editor-in-chief of Fashionista.com, tweeted on the 13th:

“Seating shitshow at Philipp Plein because no editors want to sit near Tiffany Trump. SHOCKER.”

Senior fashion editor at Elle Nikki Ogunnaike responded to Klein’s post, implying that she and other editors chose to relocate because of Trump, according to Burke.

“We moved and are down the hall. Come thru,” Ogunnaike tweeted in response to Klein.

After reports of the incident went public, television personality Whoopi Goldberg condemned the fashion editors’ behavior at Plein’s show and defended Trump on her daytime talkshow The View.

Empty seats next to Tiffany Trump shot by Brinkley [source: Twitter user @BinkleyOnStyle]
“You know what, Tiffany, I’m supposed to go to a couple more shows. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m coming to sit with you,” Goldberg said the day after the incident.

“Because nobody’s talking politics. You’re looking at fashion! She doesn’t want to talk about her dad! She’s looking at the fashion!”

Though Goldberg has been “extremely vocal” against the President, according to Fox News, she “understands how Tiffany Trump must feel” and is willing to put politics aside.

“I don’t want to talk about your dad, but, girl, I will sit next to you. Because I’ve been there where people said, ‘We’re not going to sit next to you.’ I’ll find your ass and sit next to you!” Goldberg continued.

Trump responded via Twitter later that day with the following statement:

“Thank you @WhoopiGoldberg I’d love to sit with you too!”

Amid the chaos, Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin, designers behind the label Tome, “sent one of their models down the runway wearing the pink Planned Parenthood pin,” according to Forbes. The two also donned “Stand With Planned Parenthood” t-shirts during their show’s finale.

Prabal Gurung, a designer who created a t-shirt for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, according to Forbes, sent models down the runway in statement t-shirts for his show’s finale. It girl Bella Hadid’s read “The Future Is Female,” while Gurung himself wore a “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” t-shirt.

A model wears a “Make America New York” cap at Public School during New York Fashion Week [source: Inquisitr]
At Public School “creative directors Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne took a more parody approach to the political statement,” according to Forbes.

“Models sporting red ‘Make America New York’ baseball caps walked to a remixed version of Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land.”

The red hats stitched with white writing mimic President Trump’s widely known “Make America Great Again” campaign caps. Chow and Osborne also showed various pieces reading “We Need Leaders” during the fashion show.

Perhaps the most explicit statement against the President came from Mexico-born designer Raul Solis, who has worked for the likes of Proenza Schouler and his own label LRS, according to Dazed.

Underwear reading “No Ban No Wall” at Raul Solis [source: Dazed]
Models at Solis’ Fall/Winter 2017 wore visible underwear that read “No Ban No Wall” and “Fuck Your Wall” as they paraded down the runway.

“My family is first generation Mexican and some had to migrate to the US, (so) this issue is something extremely personal to me,” Solis tells Dazed.

“I would not be able to present my collections if it was not for the opportunities the country has given us.”

Though these big-name designers definitely stirred up controversy during New York’s biannual Fashion Week events, reports suggest many of them felt it was the necessary course of action given 2016s president election and the decisions made by the new administration since taking office last month.

“Showing in a city made up of such a melting pot of cultures as New York, [Solis] felt ‘it would seem wasteful to have a platform and not be able to speak up on an issue that is extremely important,’” according to Dazed.

Model & activist Emily Ratajkowski defends FLOTUS, and vice versa

It girl and mega babe Emily Ratajkowski–better known as @emrata–caused quite a buzz on February 13 when she tweeted the following:

Sat next to a journalist from the NYT last night who told me ‘Melania is a hooker.’ Whatever your politics it’s crucial to call this out for what it is: slut shaming. I don’t care about her nudes or sexual history and no one should.

The 25-year-old brunette bombshell, who is a known feminist, activist and Bernie Sanders supporter, defied the mainstream media when she defended First Lady Melania Trump on social media.

In response to Ratajkowski, Trump tweeted the following via her @FLOTUS account:

Applause to all women around the world who speak up, stand up and support other women! @emrata #PowerOfEveryWoman #PowerOfTheFirstLady.

Ratajkowski at an anti-Trump protest at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) [source: Instagram user @emrata]
Since then Jacob Bernstein came out via Twitter (@BernsteinJacob) as the alleged New York Times journalist who slandered Mrs. Trump in what he thought was a “personal conversation” with Ratajkowski.

“My mistake, referring to unfounded rumors, shouldn’t reflect on anyone else and I apologize profusely,” Bernstein writes.

United Kingdom-born, Orange County-raised Ratajkowski often uses her social media platforms to express her viewpoints on feminism and women’s rights, sexuality, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, education and public funding of the arts. Her opinions always align with that of the mainstream liberal media’s. In fact, she gained esteem last February when she told her coming-of-age tale known as Baby Woman in an essay on Lenny Letter.

Though Ratajkowski conforms to conventional beauty standards (let’s face it: she’s gorgeous, and admits to both wearing makeup and shaving her underarms), she was raised by very liberal parents in very liberal environments. Growing up, her parents took her to nude beaches in Europe and exposed her to nude forms in photography and art.

Becoming comfortable with the naked body early in life prepared Ratajkowski for nude modeling; in 2013 she became a household name after appearing topless and in only a flesh-toned thong in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” music video.

In a 2014 interview with Ocean Drive’s Ray Rogers, Ratajkowski states, “We have this culture of men, especially, watching pornography, but then [they are] offended by a classic nude portrait or photograph, and I’ve never felt that way.”

Ratajkowski posses as Lady Godiva for Harper’s Bazaar, July 2016 [source: Harper’s Bazaar]
Despite her level of comfort with nudity (including her own), Ratajkowski is no stranger to criticism and shame for being openly sexual. After sharing a photo from a Harper’s Bazaar interview last July, in which she posed nude, British journalist and television personality Piers Morgan tweeted at Ratajkowski, “Do you want me to buy you some clothes? You look freezing.”

Ratajkowski responded, “@piersmorgan thanks, but I don’t need clothes as much as you need press.”

Morgan then tweeted, “Given I have 4.2 million more followers than Ms @emrata, I think she might be the one in need of more press” and “Emily Ratajowski posing FULLY-CLOTHED would be a bigger news story.”

In addition to standing up for herself and for current First Lady Melania Trump, Ratajkowski was praised when she posted a topless, albeit censored, snapshot alongside Kim Kardashian last March. The caption reads, “However sexual our bodies may be, we need to h[a]ve the freedom as women to choose wh[e]n & how we express our sexuality.”

This controversial tweet came on the heels of a naked selfie Kardashian posted on Instagram, which received a ton of criticism from those who seek to shame Kardashian for her overt sexuality.

Ratajkowski at an anti-Trump protest the day after his inauguration [source: Instagram user @emrata]
As the old saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. Teen Vogue contributor Brittney McNamara sheds light on the Ratajkowski-Trump situation in an article published February 13:

‘Whatever your politics it’s crucial to call this out for what it is: slut shaming. I don’t care about her nudes or sexual history and no one should,’ Emily wrote on Twitter. ‘Gender specific attacks are disgusting sexist bullshit.’

There are many reasons to watch what Melania does and how she handles the office of the First Lady. But her sexuality has nothing to do with her execution of office. Melania has claimed the escort rumors are completely false and the Daily Mail has indicated there is no evidence to suggest they are true. More importantly, alleging someone was a sex worker and using that as an insult is not OK. Being a sex worker can be a personal, valid choice. So even if she were a sex worker, it shouldn’t matter because it has nothing to do with whether she would be a good First Lady. Like Emily said, this is a gender-based attack. It seeks to undermine Melania as an intelligent woman by bringing up her sexual history. It depends upon the old idea that women can’t be both sexual and successful, and that’s frankly just untrue (something Emily has schooled us on before).

Regardless of your politics, attacking Melania with sexist, slut shaming insults will do more harm than good.

Though her views differ greatly from that of the Trump Administration (and my own), Ratajkowski deserves praise from all sides of the political spectrum. Wise beyond her years, Ratajkowski exhibits true feminism–not the so-called “Internet feminism” that plagues social media today. Instead of engaging in the hypocritical, all-bark-and-no-bite feminism to which her peers often turn, she uses her social status to stand up for what is right–not what is popular. Her voice is a breath of fresh air that sets her apart from other Hollywood-type stars and mainstream media leftists.

Ratajkowski at a New Hampshire Bernie Sanders rally in early 2016 [source: Instagram user @emrata]