Seeing Through The Eyes of…Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist

On the Street...Quai Voltaire, Paris

"On the Street...Quai Voltaire, Paris" by Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist

….the designer must be able to see – make a concentrated effort to absorb the essence of the project. Seeing is a very difficult thing to do. Most people “look” at a lot of things but never “see” anything. Looking is emotional; seeing is an intellectual process. – Albert Hadley

In the land of street photography, I have a certain fondness for the work of Scott Schuman, otherwise known as The Sartorialist.  His eye for small details and the mood of his subjects are part of the attraction. The fact that he travels around the world capturing concepts of fashion makes me believe that there is room in the world for people who just want to share their ability of seeing with the rest of the world. Traditionally, one only considers visual art to be contained in magazines, museums, and tomes for the coffee table. The success of The Sartorialist proves that there are no boundaries on the internet — art is what you make it. This makes me happy.

I browse the blog several times a week, delighting in how the rest of the world pulls together disparate ideas into a single, interesting look. There is usually an overall concept that permeates everyone’s wardrobe. For a while now it seems to have been a play on volume inspired by the 80s. There’s the option of volume on the top (tunics on top of ultra-skinny pants) or volume on the bottom (harem pants are back, ladies). This spring I anticipate seeing a lot of feminine sun dresses coupled with military boots. I love the look but I feel a bit Olive Oyl when I try something like that. Maybe I can figure out how do make it work.

The image above from The Sartorialist is so 1980s-Synth-Pop-Pet-Shop-Boys. I was way too young to get into any kind of scene when that music was popular (although it has been making a comeback) so I guess I have some leftover unfulfilled desire to incorporate it into my life. I love the all-black, very buttoned up, almost suffocating collar and the leather vest. I remember having a black and white polka-dot shirt and a black vest that I loved wearing. I was only about eight but I felt so…adult. The look is classy and uptight, as compared to the Rock-and-Roll/Glam Rock style that seemed to permeate the US in the 80s.

I think the look the subject is giving the camera is another reason I love the image, too…staring down the barrel of a gun, so to speak. No matter the subject, and despite an absence of traditional beauty, it always comes down to the eyes.


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