Friday, December 24, 2010

Shezshe in Beirut & Everywhere

Describing herself as an “apprentice blogger, photographer and shellfish finder,” Shezshe is quite possibly the Middle East’s version of the Sartorialist. She regularly prowls Beirut’s streets, snapping this cosmopolitan city’s personalities and fashionable set. The Polyglot caught up with the allusive shutterbug to talk about Middle East street style, and what’s wrong with fashion in the region today.
How would you describe your approach to blogging?I wouldn’t describe myself as a fashion addict or someone who attaches value to trends or labels. What I find more interesting is an individual’s personality or the way they pull looks together. When I created my blog, I set out to capture characters, or people who use clothing as a form of self expression. At the end of the day I see my role as that of a director casting interesting characters in a movie.

Do you have any childhood memories that sparked your interest in clothing?I always grew up around fabrics and textiles. As a child my hair was always short, so I would fashion strips of different fabrics into long hair. I felt like a different princess each day and it was definitely a unique fashion moment for me.

What can’t you live without?I think my eyesight and memory are probably the two most precious things one can own. Although I’m attached to my camera, there were many instances where I couldn’t take someone’s picture, yet the memory of them still inspires me today.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?If I could live anywhere in the world it would be literally everywhere.

Which decade would you have loved to experience?The beauty of every decade is that it had its own personality and new innovations. If I had to choose a moment in time, it would have most likely been the beginning of the 20th century when women who wanted to affirm themselves adopted a certain masculine and relaxed style of dressing. At the time, clothing served as an expression of their hopes and dreams. The fact that some women were brave enough to shun the corset and wear pants was both a revolutionary and sexy moment in time!

What do you think is wrong with fashion in the Middle East today?The most innovative fashion ideas aren’t necessarily coming from the usual suspects. In this day an age to follow fashion means to fit in, and it can be pretty dictatorial at times. A lot of people in the Middle East are afraid to express themselves differently and won’t trust new points of view until it is accepted by broader society.

Here people tend to point out the odd one; where as belonging to the main stream is comforting. Personally I LOVE odd styles! The more I take pictures the more I realize that I don’t want to show how our society is a “good student” because it knows all the fashionable trends. That’s why I like to be in places where people don’t always follow current trends, because it brings about interesting surprises. I get to meet individuals that develop their own sense of style, and adapt fashion to their unique personalities. But it’s not easy to find.

Does that mentality translate to fashion retailers as well?There is definitely a domino effect that happens because retailers are essentially meeting consumers’ needs. Personally I don’t feel there are enough stores catering to individuals looking for alternative and affordable clothing. Instead you find a lot of high end retailers essentially selling the same styles and brands, leaving the more affordable stores to come up with pale replicas of current trends.

How does that environment affect Middle Eastern designers?Although we have some great talent in the region really pushing boundaries, fashion designers in the Middle East still have a tendency to reinterpret trends as apposed to creating new ones or proposing new possibilities. Today being a designer seems to have become THE trendy job, and anyone seems to think they have what it takes to become one.

Fashion is more than just combining colors, slapping on embellishment and overusing the word “vintage” in the wrong context. The best fashion designers took time to learn their craft, and very few people have the time or resources to do that today. When you have the technical background, you can then innovate. To be a designer doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to follow fashion.

All images courtesy of Shezshe
© THE POLYGLOT (all rights reserved) CHICAGO-PARIS

1 comment:

Shezshe said...

THANK YOU A BIG THANK YOU! i still didn't post your unfair article on my blog but for the polyglot i' m doing this immediately, i've just discovered your blog today! thank you again and hope to see more and more post :) shezshe