Fashion People, As They Were

Photo: Rose Hartman/Getty Images.
In The Beautiful Fall, Alicia Drake's post-Devil Wears Prada look inside the lives of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent in '70s Paris, the author put into words what so many of us feel when we meet a famous (fashion) person: “[Stylist] Corey [Tippin] was hanging out down by the port one afternoon with Karl and [It boy] Jacques [de Bascher] when a busload of American tourists drove by, and in a moment of clarity, Corey suddenly perceived Karl in the light of reality rather than through the kaleidoscope of fashion: The tourists were staring open-mouthed through the bus windows, ice creams held in mid-air, gawping at the apparition that was Karl...I remember thinking, I am with this total freak." She'd go on to be sued by Lagerfeld for invasion of privacy.
But that's what it's like. Seeing a fashion person — much like a politician — is (usually) an unforgettable moment; one worth capturing. Because against our better judgement, we like meeting the people who tell us what to do. And apart from epochs like France in May of 1968, and, oh, perhaps now in America, we revere them. Still, we gloat about being so close that we could touch them. How many photos of the back of Grace Coddington's head have you seen?

Have you ever wondered, though, why no one asks them for pictures? We're brave enough to approach movie stars, but not fashion editors, so we stick to quick, abstract snaps of them walking through the subway or out of a fashion show just to say we did it. But don't get in their way, because fashion people are as much New Yorkers as they are someone who's always fashionably late, so timing is key.

Nevertheless, there's something mesmerizing about watching a fashion person venture out of their habitat. For once, we see them unarmed, stoic, and completely, totally themselves. That's why we've got a sick combination of nightlife and behind-the-scenes photography from the golden age of fashion to remind you that behind those sunglasses is a smile — and it's always been there.

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