I finally got my film processed from New York Fashion Week, so here are my photos from the inside last week.
Yesterday, as I watched the first crop of photographers raise their cameras up to snap their initial round of street style photos for NYFW, I began to think about all those New York icons that won’t be captured during this week. The scope of Fashion Week is actually fairly narrow in comparison to all how vital of a city New York is to the menswear world, and there are countless men who fly under the radar, or simply don’t pop up at all during NYFW, because they’re just working away in their offices far above the frenzy in the streets below.
With another semester in the books and my vacation not really starting until tomorrow, earlier this week I was lucky enough to have a few free days to simply do nothing. I decided to spend my time checking in a few places I haven’t been able to get to over the past few months, and while visits to the Rhinelander Mansion and C.H.C.M. were as enjoyable as ever, as I moved through the rest of the muddled world of New York retail, something hit me that I hadn’t really pieced together until now. Even before I moved to the city I recall reading about this new phenomenon of “bespoke barbers” and “faux-speakeasies” and I’ll admit I found the idea of a nostalgia based somewhat intriguing, but since I’ve been living here, I think the whole market has just turned a bit ridiculous. There’s now countless places across the city where you can get a sixty dollar haircut from a guy in a waistcoat and an upturned moustache, or grab an old-fashioned for twenty bucks in a dimly lit hole in the wall lined with books that no one’s read in thirty years. You walk in expecting that good ol’ gentleman’s club vibe, but it never really winds up being what you’re looking for anyway, and more often than not that only feeling you have walking out is regret over a freshly emptied wallet.
Jazz is the untamable offspring from the turn of the twentieth century. Fueled by the ever-escalating emotions of Blues, Ragtime, Swing, and Dixieland all swirled together, Jazz erupted onto the scene throughout the Southern U.S., riding an uptempo whirlwind of inspiration and improvisation. It was birthed from all the sounds and songs that preceded it, but where Jazz really came from was the gut, a free-flowing genre that ebbed and flowed with the mercuriality of the artist. As volatile as it was beautiful, early Jazz gave a howling voice to those that had been silenced for far too long. America was in flux, and Jazz was the beast that ran wild across the ever-evolving streets of this country. As the Prohibition Era was ushered in, Jazz became the soundtrack for revelry and sheer joy in the face of suppression and flat out boredom. It was the music of the passionately misunderstood, and the understandably passionate, played by those who couldn’t find the words to express themselves, but could certainly find the notes.
End of Summer. Early Fall. New York. Vegas. New York again. Leftovers. Keepers. Ephemera and Memories.
A week ago, I sat down at a bar in the West Village for a long overdue drink with a friend. Amongst the white table cloths, worn oak bar, and dusty glass bottles of Cafe Loup I asked him what he’d been up to, and he said, “A lot of this,” motioning to sitting at a bar and simply talking with a friend. I don’t know if it was his sentiment or the setting but reminded me of the creatives of the past. Writers and artists that we all claim to be our heroes, who were never as constantly connected we are, but instead where granted the luxury of time, the freedom to just call up a friend and talking nonsense.
The Beat Generation and the New York School inhabited city haunts like the The Cedar Tavern and The White Horse Tavern while over in Europe, Picasso, Hemingway and their respective crews frequented Parisian locales like Henry’s New York Bar and La Rotonde as a way to let their current ideas breathe, while all the while formulating new new ones. These men and women would pass the hours in bars, talking, smoozing, socializing, but more importantly they were simply getting drunk. Leaving their work was a way to stimulate it all over again.
After throwing up yesterday’s finicky post on the formal, I figured something with a bit more levity (and brevity) was in order. I decided it was only right to shift focus towards The Beat Generation, a rough grouping of young New Yorkers in the fifties and beyond whose veins pulsed with a volatile mixture of desire, angst, discomfort, passion, and booze. Their lives were a constant battle between comedy and tragedy, Shakesperian not only in how they lived them, but how they recorded them. These men (and women) were the great storytellers of the fifties, capturing a post war era rife with feelings of curiosity, unease, and displacement in a world that was rapidly evolving far out of their control. William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and so many others, these were the men that gave meaning to the term counterculture.
You know, I swore to myself I wouldn’t do it, but I suppose the time has finally come where I have to talk about street style. Since day one, I’ve always rejected the idea of giving any shine to street style photos on this blog, mainly because I feel that street style has evolved into this attention hungry beast that gets further away from itself with each subsequent fashion week. I watched this belief get validated over and over again this past week, as it seemed like half the people that I saw heading into the shows were painfully uncomfortable in their own skin. I say uncomfortable because I’m not going to dig into the whole “fashion Halloween” thing or whatever people like to compare street style to these days. I don’t mind that people dress in ways that I would deem ridiculous, it’s never been my place to critique someone’s personal style. But what does bother me is when I see a guy who can barely cross the street because his leather jeans are painted on so tight he can’t bend his knees, forgoing ability to function normally, all in hopes that someone will take his photo.
On the Streets