Thursday, March 25, 2010


What is referred to as "fashion" for me is magic. That sounds grossly grandiose, but it's true. Right now I'm not talking about fashion as an industry, manipulated by PR people (ahem) to look a certain way under the gloss of the magazines. I'm not talking about fashion as a business, driven by cash cow pieces required of the financiers who own the companies. And I'm not talking about fashion as an elitist institution or frivolous party scene populated by haughty editors and puppeteered starlets. Right now, I'm talking about fashion from before I knew to call it "fashion".

In college, I learned in neuropsychology that even before they learn to speak, little girls are overwhelmingly drawn to dress-up dolls over toy cars. I was of course one of those little girls, and that mysterious neuropsychological compulsion grew as I grew. I played with my clothes and doodled ball gowns over my schoolwork. I kept shoeboxes full of Vogue clippings and used Elmer's glue to collage 8 1/2" by 11" fantasy worlds. The names of the designers and photographers were familiar from voracious reading, but as a child, connotations of materialism or elitism were lost on me. My young brain, drawn to these images, processed these names to mean just one thing: magic. To me, Coco Chanel was an anachronistic businesswoman whose bold emancipation from the corset had paved the way for girls like me to be strong and independent. In my childish naiveté, I had no idea that those interlocking C's were a status symbol widely coveted and knocked off. I just wanted to drape myself in ropes of pearls and make my own way like the indomitably elegant Mademoiselle. 

Fortunately for me, I had an outlet for my innate attraction to dress-up. Being a model throughout childhood not only rescued me from Matilda-like boredom at school, it also developed my creativity. Shoots for zed cards were particularly fantastic because there were no regulations or commercial goals. The potential for adventure was limitless, especially with the photographer Laura Aldridge. Her San Francisco studio was an absolute wonderland for a little girl. Tulle skirts and aviator goggles were stashed in bins, cowboy boots and antique books lined the shelves, silk slips and paper parasols hung from the ceiling. In the middle of the concrete floor was the big white backdrop flanked by silver umbrellas of lighting equipment, but the most fun we ever had was shooting in my semi-rural hometown. My grandparents live on a ranch where I loved to play, and shooting there, guerilla-style in the bubbling creek or looming barn, was like inhabiting a dreamworld. None of it made sense in real life-- let's put you in a vintage U.S. Army jacket and sit you in the water!-- but in that creative world, suspended from time and normal conventions, it was magic. 

I didn't know then that that magic was "fashion". I didn't know that I was subconsciously learning to become a fashion stylist or to speak intelligently about fashion photography. But any talent my aesthetic eye may have as an adult I wholly credit to those dreamworld days of my childhood. And I know that every power player who created and shaped what is now the "fashion industry" had that feeling in their own childhood. We forget that "fashion" is just a child's neuropsychological attraction to the dress-up doll. "Fashion" is an innate love of beauty and creativity. Fashion is magic.

That is why I was so moved by Acrylic Nails Photography. The blog is run by children-- a group of 13- and 14-year-olds in Los Angeles who style and shoot their own "editorials" in a very similar guerilla style: "Without the jaded eyes of overworked editors and the mucky-muck of advertisers, the results are expressions of pure, unfiltered fashion--for fashion’s sake." writes Emili Vesiland for Style Section LA. Re-visit fashion through the eyes of babes and experience the unadulterated magic.


  1. just test your comment thing.. having a hard time with it

  2. oh good it worked!.. did you remember to send this to laura?.. i love it!


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