Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 35: the fame game.

This evening I went to Scott Schuman's book signing, creator of The Sartorialist blog and book of the same name. Who would have thought that something as vacuous as mere fashion could have been so thought provoking? For a start, Schuman doesn't deal in "mere" fashion. He documents the impeccably turned out, in their native stomping grounds. Beautifully clad New Yorkers, Parisians, Londoners and over the past few days Sydneysiders, with a penchant for the unique, often bespoke and perfectly finished outfit. This evening he was selling and signing books at the Sass and Bide store, with the promise that if anyone attending particularly caught his eye, he would photograph them for his blog. Which brings me to my first pebble for thought. If you follow The Sartorialist, you'll know that to be pictured in it is a kind of affirmation of your awesomeness. It is a stamp of approval from a certain brand of fashion elite, that your personal style is hitting the high mark. Wait a minute, did I say approval from a "fashion elite"? I meant approval from Scott Schuman. You see, it occurred to me while queuing for his haloed signature, that this man started a blog based on his own taste for fashion (and an ability to take a very pretty picture). Four years later he is a minor celebrity, with hordes of perfectly stylish people in their own right, lining up to see him with the thinly masked hope that he might deign to declare their look worthy. I, for one, queued quite excitedly for over an hour to see the man, and it cannot be denied that he kits out kind of breathtakingly. But instead of buzzing out fulfilled by this flower of fashion, the experience of meeting Mr Schuman left me feeling small. Not a good sensation for any self-respecting human being, not to mention one with delusions of rock 'n' roll grandeur. It got me thinking about the whole fame thing. Firstly, Sir Sartorialist is famous for having good taste. But he only got that way because he decided that he had good taste and went about putting it out there. Admittedly, everyone else kind of agreed he had good taste too. But by starting the blog at all, he declared his authority; he implied his superiority; he divined his celebrity. Secondly, part of the reason everyone likes the Sartorialist is that theoretically any regular person can turn up in it (provided they're wearing killer threads), and enjoy their own little bit of famousness. And thirdly, if I'm honest, part of the reason the whole book signing experience left me feeling bummed was because I was in the presence of a man with the power to make me famous, and he took a rain check. I missed my tiny shot at fashion fame. But here's a question: why the hell do I want to be famous anyway? (Because if you want to be a rock star, you have to admit that you want to be some kind of celebrity.) Tonight's experience left me questioning that urge. Is it actually a gross desire? Is the quest for fame actually just an embarrassingly obvious display of human inadequacy and the pitiable need for validation from others? (And why do I give a shit what Scott Schuman or anybody else thinks of what I'm wearing?) Hmmm. Personally, I think my rock star ambition is rooted in something less grandiose than it might seem: I just want to do something impeccably well and have my achievement recognised. It does come down to a kind of validation, sure. But it's mainly about proving to yourself and others that you're a unique, useful human being who has a purpose on this earth. For me it has nothing to do with leaving something behind or achieving eternal life through your art. It's more about adding something interesting while I'm around. And really, that's all Scott Schuman is doing. So maybe I should quit with feeling small and intimidated, and applaud him for his good work (I did actually, when he signed my books, although not with actual clapping). Oh yeah, and get on with the job of doing something worthy of applause myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment