Wednesday 21 March 2018

Paul Galvin: Tangled in fashion's web

Paul Galvin shares his favourite style bloggers

Paul Galvin
Paul Galvin
Kilkenny girl Blanaid Hennessy
Tommy Ton
Irish blogger Liz Greehy
Susie Lau
Bryan Boy

The World Wide Web is a funny place. It's a bit like a virtual lunatic asylum, except without the doctors, the meds or the straitjackets. A haven for the ever-so-slightly unhinged to run amok, venting angry, self-important, irrational viewpoints to nobody in particular and everybody in general. A halfway house for the subliminally insane.

YouTube and chat forums in general leave me cold. Could there be a more pointless pursuit than getting into an argument in cyberspace with a spacer on the other side of the world over whether or not Rihanna is fat? I doubt it.

The internet is representative of both the best and worst qualities of the human race. Ingenuity and innovation at its best, insecurity and invective at its worst. I like to focus on the former when I do venture online. I tend to avoid the web as a rule, except for two things: booking flights and blogging.

Where would we be without bloggers, fashion's forward thinkers? From Susie Lau's 'Style Bubble' to 'Sassybella' to 'Wee Birdy' to 'Face Hunter', I can spend a good part of my day reading blogs. It's a blogger's world right now, as the influential ones are a designer's best friend and even front-row regulars seated alongside magazine editors and celebs.

The Tavis and Bryan Boys are now celebs in their own right, such is their influence. Elin Kling is the creator of the Swedish blog 'Style by Kling' and has just designed a nine-piece capsule collection for high-street giants H&M. Proof, if proof was needed, of bloggers' upwardly mobile trajectory.

Personally, I've never been quite sure what it is that makes them so influential -- 5,000 hits a day in 'Bryan Boy's' case, I suppose.

Commercially, blogging has become a very lucrative hobby in the case of some. Manolo's shoe blog, said to be one of the first created back in 2004, earns the creator a six-figure salary.

I can't relate to lots of them, honestly. 'Bryan Boy's' taste, like 'Kate Loves Me' creator Pelayo Diaz, is a little too camp and very much catwalk and 'scene'-orientated, such is their love-in with designers and party planners in fashion capitals. But they both have cult followings, like 14-year-old Tavi.

Catwalk fashion, while of course the industry's lifeblood, now has competition from the streets, which have become a much more vibrant, interesting melting pot for fashion observers. A real catwalk for real people (that's not to say models aren't real people!), but the streets really are the new catwalk. London street style in particular is pushing the envelope today in terms of where designers are looking for creative inspiration.

And smart bloggers know it. Tommy Ton knew it. His Jak & Jil street-style blog is great; more authentic and less commercial than most. Scott Schuman knew it before most. 'The Sartorialist' himself, he is the blogosphere's street-style pioneer, leaving his well-paid job in fashion merchandising to care for his sick daughter and explore his passion for photography.

He took to the streets to capture street style on regular Joes, not knowing if this hobby would ever pay his way. Lucky for him, his gamble paid off. Hats off to 'The Sartorialist'. Leaving one's secure, well-paid job to follow one's real passion in life? That's to be admired surely. That takes some real courage.

Some people see it as an opportunity to knock and mock the person taking a risk in life, all from the comfort and safety of their own keyboard under the guise of a made-up username to protect their identity/fragility. Computer courage. A rare form of courage that requires a large dose of cowardice to help it along.

Anyway, to more positive pursuits. Schuman. The street was his lab and real people his subject. I've been a fan for a while and regularly upload the looks he shoots on to my desktop. He has a great aesthetic eye, though, in my opinion, there's no doubt that some shots are contrived.

His French counterpart and now partner (how very 'Sliding Doors!') Garance Doré is another favourite of mine for the substance of her shots, but also because her site is a great fun way for me to learn French. Calling all Leaving Cert students: take the drudgery out of French study and read Doré's blog. It's translated into English. I've just had a great idea -- a fashion blog as Gaeilge to take the drudgery out of Irish!

Though I've had a lifelong love for fashion, I've learned since I've dipped my toe into it that it's taken quite seriously in some quarters. Very seriously, in fact. Which is fair enough. Not for me, I must say. For me, it's fun and shouldn't be an exclusive members-only club with rules and regulations. Rites of passage I can understand.

That's why 'Fashion Tosh' is a blog I love. It's written to poke fun at the serious, high-brow, sometimes try-hard nature of the industry (or BS, as he calls it) and publications such as 'Vogue', 'ID' and even 'Grazia', which I must admit I really like, by taking particularly arsey pieces of editorial and applying some much-needed perspective with his commentary. Check out some of his pieces. 'Trouser Tosh', 'Coat Tosh' and my favourite 'Déclassé Tosh'. Funny and brave. I like.

So, where are the best blogs, then? Right here at home, in my opinion. Ireland is the creative hub of so much in fashion right now and it's no surprise we have some great fashion writers.

Clare girl Liz Greehy's is the first Irish fashion blog I can remember reading about four years ago, having met her at an event, and the fashion, beauty and lifestyle site is still going strong.

Stephen Moloney is the new kid on the block from Waterford who has made 'Vogue' sit up and take notice with 'Stitches, Fabric and Soul' -- a street-style website. Here, here for the bla' blogger and the lads!

In Kilkenny, Blanaid Hennessy is doing it for the kittens with her more rounded style, interiors and media website The site is well written and aesthetically pleasing, so this is a girl to watch.

Annmarie O'Connor's 'I Blog Fashion' is another regular stop-off for me. Besides her obvious fashion nous (she styled Joanne Hynes's A/W collaboration with Helen Steele at LFW this year), her writing is very engaging and witty and her command of English very impressive. Her recent post 'Holy Spirit of Style' on Communion and Confirmation wear was right up my street.

Last, but most of all, the fairest blogger of them all -- and my favourite blogger of them all -- is Meath girl Angela Scanlon. I've been a fan of this girl for a while and her eponymous site is very cutting edge. With an eye for great looks, be it catwalk, street style or editorial, and a look that's great on the eye, this girl is a walking, talking, skinny-jean wearing advertisement for all that's positive in Irish fashion.

So that's my blog report. All hail the Irish blogger. One of two reasons for me ever entering the murky world weird web. It's a great resource when used properly. Just beware the lunatics running the asylum.

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