by Elaine Wolff
I used to have a friend who would ask me for the recipes for desserts she'd tried at my house. "That coconut cake was fantastic," she'd say. "Can you tell me how to make it?"
I'd give her the step-by-step instructions, a detailed ingredient list, and helpful tips.
Without fail, she'd eventually tell me, "I tried making that cake, and it turned out terrible."
So, I'd start the postmortem: "Did you use fresh eggs?" "Did you cream the butter and sugar first?"
Eventually it'd come to light that she'd skipped some crucial step because it just seemed like too much trouble.
"Why do I have to sift the flour before I measure it?" she'd ask, for instance. "That just seems like an extra step." Or, "I didn't have any pastry flour, so I just used all regular."
Finally I convinced her to make quick breads, which don't require the same dedication to detail.
The point? If you're trying to replicate Grandma's famous pound cake, and you're lucky enough to possess the recipe, just follow the damn thing. To the letter.
I bring this up as a prelude to a dare: 210sa, I hereby throw down the fashion gauntlet. I double-dog dare you to do the Wardrobe Warrior right.
Since you started directly ripping off New York's Look Book in December (which inspired my last rant on the subject), you've settled into the form a little. You're having something resembling a conversation with your subjects, which is an improvement.
But you're still picking ordinary-looking people. This isn't an insult to your subjects. I'm ordinary-looking, as are the vast majority of Americans who don't live in LA or New York (sorry, Austin). Outside of the girl who said she was wearing all Baby Phat (which sticks in my mind because I wondered, via linear thinking, if the line offers underwear, too `yes`), I can't recall a single subject from your weekly photo shoot. Last week's subject -- so Pat Benatar '80s -- is the closest you've come to the ideal. The point of this particular sort of feature -- if it exists for any reason other than to lure retail advertisers -- is to photograph extraordinary looking individuals or individuals who are a particularly salient visual example of their social subset.
Note: It's helpful if you look for them in places besides the mall.
You can't cheat by calling up people you know have a cool look, or by going to clubs at night. You're looking for people who sport their glorious inner strange when the rest of us are wearing our conformist work faces. For example: One afternoon on Broadway, not three blocks from your corporate HQ, I saw a tall black man wearing an electric-blue suit and a zoot-suit-style hat, climbing into a vintage car. Who the hell is that guy? I'd sure like to know. He might even inspire a corporate suit or two to step out next time they're shopping lapels. This morning, outside my apartment complex (and again, not a mile from your Hearst/Express-News offices), a Golden Girls dame in enormous Coco Chanel-esque shades and a floral skirt stared me down at the corner. She looked interesting. Or how about the guy who walked into Whole Foods on a recent Saturday with a full scalp and neck tattoo -- like chain maille -- rocking his biker look. Not your stereotypical SA Whole Foods customer.
But I don't have any faith in you Wardrobe Warrior -- you're more like a Wardrobe Serf, slave to convention and the mild derivations that pass for style for most of us. That same morning at WF, I waited for juice behind a tweener sporting a Takashi Murakami Louis Vuitton bag (or a good facsimile thereof). She was fashionable in a completely uninteresting way, but at this point I have to assume that, given the choice between these two WF customers, you'd go safe.
Come on, prove me wrong.
Of course, I like the new video version of NY's Look Book so much that we might just start knocking it off ourselves.