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.”

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What’s in a meme? A look at Gucci’s newest ad campaign

Anyone who uses social media is familiar with the concept of memes. But, no one expected to see memes created and published by an esteemed high-end retailer in lieu of a traditional ad campaign.

According to Google, a meme is “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.” Earlier this month, luxury brand Gucci began utilizing memes to advertise their newest campaign, dubbed #TFWGucci. (For those of you who are not social media savvy, “TFW” is an acronym meaning “the feel when.”)

A scroll through Gucci’s Instagram profile (@gucci) reveals a slew of popular memes repurposed and aimed at its luxury consumers. Many followers were slightly shocked to see Gucci’s memes on their Instagram feeds.

After all, “it’s kind of a well-known fact that the fashion world, particularly the luxury goods industry, has been slow to adopt technology. And then it moved at a snail’s pace to get on social media,” according to Dash Hudson, a company that focuses on Instagram return on investment (ROI) for many big-name brands.

“Luxury labels have been getting by on these platforms thanks to name recognition, but as Instagram evolves and various content trends come and go, it is indeed becoming increasingly imperative for them to start shifting their thinking toward devising social-first strategies.”

By implementing this unique strategy, Gucci instantly set itself apart from its competitors, who do not keep up with social media content trends, such as memes.

“A lot of luxury brands don’t really appear to have a concise social strategy in place and just go about it according to their HQ’s marketing activities,” Dash Hudson continues.

Luxury fashion brands tend steer clear of mainstream trends, on social media or otherwise, in order to maintain their aloof, exclusive personas. So, it is no surprise that it came as, well, a surprise, with the Italian fashion house took on the quirky trend full-force.

[source: Dash Hudson]
The second post of Gucci’s entire meme campaign features a watch showing through a torn suit sleeve, captioned “When you got that new watch and have to show it off.”

With an engagement rate of 1.34 percent, according to Dash Hudson, this post sits in second place among the Gucci account’s top 4 highest performing posts of all time–second only to another #TFWGucci post. The third and fourth place posts are not associated with this campaign.

Gucci’s highest performing post of all-time, by a margin of .21 percent, is a close-up shot of a female model adorned with what appears to be Gucci-inspired temporary tattoos. Her hand and face are covered in drawn-on tags: an Instagram feature used to identify who’s who in a given picture.

“The top 2 memes from the campaign actually became [Gucci’s] top 2 most engaged posts of all-time, dethroning [a snapshot of] the Obamas,” according to Dash Hudson.

[source: Dash Hudson]
Followers are obviously responding well to this unconventional ad campaign, but, like the old phrases says, no good deed goes unpunished. Or, in this case, uncriticized. Fashion enthusiasts all over the world took to social media (of course) to speak out on Gucci’s new campaign.

“I’m not upset that Gucci is making memes now. I’m upset because the memes are bad,” @robesman writes via Twitter.

“These Gucci memes are not funny [and] really not relatable,” adds @erikabowes.

“I’m sure it sounded dope when they were brainstorming, but Gucci’s meme campaign is one of the lamest things I’ve ever seen,” @Sipho_Says writes.

Still, some fans of the brand are unsure how they feel about its new ad campaign.

“Gucci made itself a meme account, and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it,” @rubykburns tweets.

Teen Vogue employees face backlash after making racist remarks on Twitter

Teen Vogue employees Lara Witt and Lauren Duca are under scrutiny after posting racially insensitive and downright hateful remarks on Twitter. On March 18, Witt (@Femmefeministe) wrote, “Also white people are evil. Whiteness is evil.”

Duca’s (@laurenduca) remarks came nearly a year earlier when she wrote, “Friendly reminder that there’s an uneven playing field, and straight, white men are generally trash,” on May 27, 2016. Both Witt and Duca have verified Twitter accounts.

[source: Twitter user @Femmefeministe]
[source: Twitter user @laurenduca]
Teen Vogue’s website lists Witt as an author and Duca as a weekend editor. While both face a ton of backlash via Twitter from Teen Vogue fans and critics alike (more on that later!), Heat Street noticed something suspect about Witt in particular. In an article titled “Feminist writer Lara Witt’s very un-woke Twitter history,” Joe Simonson points out several cases in which the Teen Vogue author spewed highly hypocritical sentiments.

“Witt is a master at this social justice warrior pastime…When she’s not writing riveting columns at publications like Teen Vogue entitled ‘What I learned from DAPL protestors as a woman of color,’ or ‘Stop weaponizing ciracial children,’ at Wear Your Voice Magazine she’s letting the internet know just how terrible everybody and everything is,” Simonson writes.

“But what about Witt herself?  Has she always acted with the same kind of purity she demands from others?”

When it comes to body shaming, a concern among feminists, Witt is guilty of it herself.

Per Heat Street, Witt tweeted, “Nothing bothers me more than ignorant people who think they’re smart. Well, that and fat people who take up [two] seats [on] the bus,” on April 12, 2011.

A little over a year later, Witt wrote, “The number of women in Philly that are in their early 20s and overweight is alarming. #America.”

Witt also took to Twitter to criticize a man’s outfit choice on a city street: “Come on, dude, it’s the city, put on some fucking shoes and decent attire. Fat, lazy American,” she wrote on May 30, 2012. She also included a snapshot of the man and his friend, which they clearly did not know was being taken.

[source: Twitter user @Femmefeministe via Heat Street]
Slut-shaming is another hot button issue about which feminists preach ad nauseam. Of course a social justice warrior and liberal like Witt would never participate in such misogynistic behavior–at least, that is what she wants her followers to believe.

On January 4, Witt tweeted, “You’re shamed for any sense of sexual agency and pleasure. I can’t tell you how many times I was called a whore when I was only 18.”

Simonson notes, “What about dangerous and violent gendered language against women? Surely someone like Lara would never slut-shame, right? It’s not like she’s specifically written articles attacking people who slut shamed Kim Kardashian.”

But, five years earlier she slut-shamed a fellow woman. “Wait, what?! #KimKardashian only got married for publicity? What groundbreaking news. I didn’t know she wasn’t an attention whore,” Witt wrote on October 31, 2011.

According to Simonson, “[Witt] at least she recognizes the problematic nature of using the word crazy, right?  She frequently writes columns centered around mental health and wellness.”

Not exactly. On September 15, 2011 she tweeted, “Hearing this woman’s bed bug issue while [on] the bus is driving me crazy.”

Lastly, Witt took to Twitter not once, but twice to bash “fat, male, slutty Jews,” according to Simonson.

“I find it despicable that some Jewish figures are decrying rockets being launched at them. Israel has the means to protect itself,” she tweeted on July 29, 2014.

In response to her own tweet, Witt also wrote, “Gaza has no way to protect itself from the very government that has kept it handicapped for years. Gaza is oppressed; Israel is a terrorist.”

But, let’s get back to backlash both Witt and Duca are currently facing on the social media platform. In a March 19 tweet highlighting both aforementioned racist remarks by the two Teen Vogue employees, an account called Tennessee (@TEN_GOP) wrote, “Hey @TeenVogue, care to comment on blatant racism from your employees?” Teen Vogue has yet to respond publicly.

@AM_Gwynn responds, “@TEN_GOP @TeenVogue Perhaps this needs the attention of a hate crime agency?” and “This should go viral. Teen Vogue prefers protecting real racists over profit and reputation? This is not acceptable.

@PrettyFru writes, “@TEN_GOP @TeenVogue I’m just about to my limit with this hypocrisy! Never be apologetic for being ANY color–it wasn’t your choice.”

@jtoufas says, “@TEN_GOP @TeenVogue, “Both of these tweets sound ignorant. Why does the color of skin mean anything?”

Lastly, @indigoblue65 writes, “@TEN_GOP @TeenVogue Shocked you’re allowing such hateful, racist people to write for such an influential [magazine] for teens!”

That’s not all, though. A simple search for Witt or Duca’s account on Twitter’s app or website yields a ton of criticism aimed directly at the young writers.

6 problems new media causes in the fashion industry

New media (including blogs) and social media (think: Instagram, Snapchat) without a doubt have a huge impact on the fashion industry. From the way we read magazines to who’s sitting front row at the hottest fashion shows, a lot has changed in tandem with new media’s rise–and not all of it is for the better, either.

Many industry professionals and fashion gurus yearn for the days when fashion was about art, talent and innovation; instead, they are left with a bleak world based on ads, sales and consumerism. This phenomenon affects not only the way the world sees the industry, but the scope of the industry itself, in six distinct ways.

Depp and Lagerfeld on the Chanel Couture Spring 2017 runway on January 24 [source: popsugar.com.au]
Nepotism: Nepotism is prevalent in just about every facet of the fashion industry, but it is most obvious when it comes to models, both on the runway and in print. World class designers, such as Chanel’s creative director Karl Lagerfeld, tend to favor the children of celebrities over models who have made a name in the industry for themselves. Bella Hadid (daughter of Yolanda Hadid and David Foster), Kendall Jenner (daughter of Kris Kardashian and Bruce Jenner) and Lily Rose Depp (daughter of singer-songwriter Vanessa Paradis and actor Johnny Depp) all served as Lagerfeld’s muse on the Chanel runway during the recent Spring 2017 couture show in Paris. Depp, 17, who closed the show in an ornate tulle gown, even walked arm-in-arm with Lagerfeld as she descended down the runway. Additionally, other celebrity children, like Bella Hadid’s older sister Gigi, and Hailey Baldwin, daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin, appear on numerous runways and print ads every season, causing traditional–and arguably more talented–models to be pushed aside.

Pay-for-play on the red carpet: Per The Fashion Law, celebrity stylists and their A-list clientele receive large sums of money from designers seeking red carpet recognition. With award show season in full-swing, these stylists receive “anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000” per event, while the celebrities themselves can receive upwards of $100,000, according to Jessica Paster, who has dressed Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Miranda Kerr, Sandra Bullock and Rachel McAdams, among others. But, American lawyer and voice behind The Fashion Law Julie Zerbo does not take these so-called “ambassadorships” between designers and celebrities lightly. In fact, she states, “…it is important for advertising brands to think critically about whether a connection between the product (a dress or necklace, for instance) and its endorser (the celebrity) is material; whether consumers would understand that that endorser has been compensated for his or her endorsement; and whether a material connection disclosure needs to be made and how.” Furthermore, “…endorsements that have come about as a result of a connection between the endorser and the underlying brand without proper disclosure are violations of the FTC Act,” according to Zerbo, while “a misrepresentation is ‘material’ if it is likely to affect consumers’ buying choices.”

[source: harpersbazaar.com]
Lack of innovation in design: While the most coveted designs were once the intricate, handmade ones that took hours upon hours to assemble and often had to be custom ordered, that is no longer the case. As exhibited by Dior’s Spring 2017 ready-to-wear collection, the most popular pieces are now synonymous with the most Instagram-able ones. A simple white t-shirt reading “WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS” stole the show, made subsequent headlines, flooded social media feeds all over the world and gained even more esteem when it was worn by superstars Natalie Portman and Rihanna rocked it off the runway. A similar t-shirt by Gucci, which retails for nearly $600, came to fame on the backs several bloggers and Instagram influencers–We Wore What’s Danielle Bernstein and newcomer Alicia Roddy, to name a few–who’ve worn it throughout the past few months, as well.

The democratization of fashion: The fashion industry, which used to be comprised of elites, is more accessible than ever. Thanks to fast fashion, more and more people are able to participate in runway trends at the expense of sweatshop workers in developing countries, as well as the global environment. Bloggers and social media influencers post snapshots and videos from their front row seats at the hottest fashion shows, while magazines such as Vogue publish free online content for all to read, increasing the demand for fast fashion. Similarly, high end designers seem to be in a never-ending worldwide competition to create the most buzz-worthy clothes, which has caused an extreme decrease in the quality and innovation of their work over the last five years.

Fashion shows that are no longer about the fashion: Instead of attending shows to actually see the designs, industry insiders (and outsiders!) seek invitations so that they can be photographed in the front row or spotted outside. The front row was once reserved for Anna Wintour (Editor-in-Chief of Vogue) and company; now reality stars such as Kim Kardashian-West and big name bloggers such as Chiara Ferragni of the Blonde Salad sit front row for the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Jeremy Scott–some even sit alongside Wintour and co. They come to shows toting their smart phones in order to post photos of designs almost as instantly as they debut. At a given fashion show, followers can count on a handful of bloggers and influencers to Snapchat the entire event.

Gross violation of FTC regulations: Gross violation of Federal Trade Commission regulations is undoubtedly the most widespread dilemma currently facing the fashion industry. Countless bloggers, YouTube stars and social media influencers fail to disclose sponsored content on their respective platforms, misleading millions of consumers regularly–in fact, it seems there is a new culprit every week or so. In an attempt to come off as more authentic to their thousands, and sometimes millions, of followers, bloggers such as Natalie Suarez (known throughout the blogosphere as Natalie Off Duty) and Aimee Song (Song of Style) intentionally fail to disclose content paid for by fashion and beauty brands such Lord & Taylor and Laura Mercier, according to Zerbo. Influencers like the Kardashians and Jenners have also come under fire for posting misleading social media content sponsored by brands such as Balmain, Calvin Klein, Inc., Estée Lauder, Inc., Karl Lagerfeld™, MANGO, Mint Swim, MISBHV, Puma, Revlon (for Sinful Colors) and Roberto Cavalli S. P. A., according to Zerbo. While some bloggers and influencers occasionally include a #spon or #sp to their posts, it is often hidden in the middle or the end of a wordy caption. An FTC-approved disclosure, according to Zerbo, includes #ad or Ad: (not #spon or #sp) at the beginning, and video posts call for disclosure to be said out loud or displayed on screen early on.