Looking from the outside in - people, place and practice

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Homeless chic: How insane?

In this month's issue we discuss the idea of Poverty Porn (page 38), i.e. the new trend where beautiful fashion stories are shot in poor locales. Models don pricey designer outfits, in areas where some people can't even afford a loaf of bread.

For example, earlier this year L'Officiel Paris featured Chanel Iman in a fashion story (above), wearing couture shot against a shabby-chic township background.

Is this creative juxtapositioning or just plain bad taste?

Homeless Chic

At another end of the spectrum, we have 'homeless chic', something you might of heard of. The above video explains how Homeless Chic started.  It is basically fashion inspired by homeless people and the clothes they wear. The poster children for Homeless Chic have always been Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen. Yet, I think they have more of a grunge look.

Now is this in bad taste? I definitely think so. Of course designers or celebs are going to be inspired and influenced by different things in the world around them. But seeing a male model walking down the runway in Vivienne Westwood designs (which obviously doesn't come cheap), carrying a fold-up mattress, looking like he needs a good scrub, is not chic at all. I find it very disrespectful.

Homeless people are usually not homeless by choice, they wear what they can find (usually from charities or from the trash). These are facts. It's not the same as being inspired by punks, monks or bikers. This is an exploitation of homeless people.

Homeless Street Style

There are now even sites which exhibit homeless street style.  That is “images of people living on the street that exhibit a unique sense of personal style.”

But maybe this is actually a good thing. At least this blogger takes pictures of actual homeless people in their environment, wearing what they can find.

The photographer merely captures their personal sense of style; whereas designers like Vivienne Westwood makes homeless chic outfits, which cost thousands and are meant for an elite group of fashionistas.

What do you think?

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