Self-portraiture. The term used before “selfies” was brought into the English language. Self-portraiture might sound a little pretentious now compared to its acceptable, egocentric counterpart, but previous self-portrait photographers often used the format to either create some fantasy world or examine the one we lived in.
Vivian Maier is one of the more well-known self-portrait photographers with large thanks to the internet generation, who’s work went posthumously “viral” around 2009, featuring a series of brilliant portraits and self-portraits through various mirrors and windows (cameras didn’t lenses on both front and back then, go figure). I quite like them because she has a somewhat sad face, ultimately looking unimpressed and a little dissatisfied, but actually ends up finding a little power and confidence within the lens. True confidence in self-portraiture can be found with someone like Cindy Sherman, who dresses up to form these characters that become the subject of her lens. I’d say she was more recognised within the fashion world thanks to her colourful aesthetic, and what she can do with herself and camera is what more than some can do with a team of 6 people.
I’d like to learn more about the format, as it’s been utilised throughout time by artists of all mediums. I wonder what the interest was in producing a piece of work on yourself rather than the subjects around you, or is it perhaps that this interest on “an artistic level” has just waned because social media seems to only be about “selfies”?
I tried doing some self-portraits. I wouldn’t say these photos are particularly ground-breaking, but perhaps it’s a good start. Though I’m quite used to being in front of the camera (not preferable), there’s something odd about standing in front of one when there’s no one else behind it. There’s no one directing you what to do, and the only sound being heard is the frantic pace of you running back and forth into position, and the beeping of your imminent immortalisation. It’s a little odd and a little uncomfortable, but I’ve never liked taking selfies unless I was with friends anyway. I think being able to take pictures of ourselves allows us control over the image, but when we end up being rude because other’s photography doesn’t compare to our righteous eye and holy image of ourselves, it’s a little much.
MATCHESFASHION.COM have returned with another own-brand collection, which comes in the form of ‘RAEY’ autumn/winter 2016. I previously spoke about the brand on the old website when they re-launched and released their first collection for RAEY during spring/summer 2015, and since then they’ve followed a consistent aesthetic under Rachael Proud’s creative direction. Like Rachael’s own personality, the men’s AW16 collection is relaxed and a little quirky. The hound’s-tooth greatcoat is ginourmous. Trying it on I imagine it’s what Hercules felt like when he first put on the body of the Nemean Lion. It’s heavy but its enormity is actually supremely comforting, and if a piece of clothing could be described so, like Rachael it seems particularly unpretentious as well. Clothing CAN seem a little pretentious, when greatcoats draw too many golden notes from military regalia, or a too-tight three-piece tweed suit with all the bloody trimmings comes decorated with a forest green bow tie. But RAEY seems to exercise a good balance between the often-commercialised sports casual/tailoring combination, and AW16 quietly-but-intentionally communicates accessibility.
With the exception of the leopard-print coat, the collection is understated rather than unnoticeable. Leopard-print isn’t for me, but it looks damn good within their Style Report images. I’d much rather go for the easily-worn Prince of Wales-checked track pants, which look smart, are smart, but have a drawstring fastening instead of belt loops and a clip. The cardigans are thick, and the textures found on all the knitwear I tried were brilliant, leading me to believe the quality has improved since SS15 as well. RAEY might not be for someone seeking dazzling, outstanding look-at-me pieces, but its “under-stated luxury” appeal is unquestionable, and has certainly altered my perspective on the typical tracksuit.