Saturday, 16 June 2018

a time to reflect: fashion, creativity and being a teenage blogger

Three months ago, this blog turned 7. Three weeks ago, I finished uni. I haven't yet taken much time to reflect on either.

I often dismiss the work on this blog. Fashion blogging isn't really a thing anymore. We've all moved on to Instagram. The Tavi Gevinson generation of bloggers has dispersed into whatever new projects they are working on. My blog posts have become sporadic and often they stagnate altogether.

Yet this blog and I have grown up together. It's hard to think of it as my baby when I was practically a baby when I started it. I have played with the idea of deleting all my teenage posts or starting anew altogether, but then I would be betraying my adolescent self, and Morrissey has already betrayed teenage me so badly that I don't think she could take much more betrayal right now.

Fashion is about capturing a moment in time.

Fashion, like other arts and culture, captures a moment in time. It allows us to guess an era from a photograph. Style today traverses time, taking inspiration from a plethora of trends from previous decades. Fashion moments are no longer just about the clothes we wear.

The old posts on this blog captured a moment in time. They did not rock the fashion world, but they were part of a larger movement. Polyvore sets are now missing and the writing is juvenile, but those early posts were fuelled by a one-track minded determination and inspiration that I can only dream of now. I have written extensively about the importance of adolescence; the importance of forever. My forever was informed by Tavi, Rookie and the blogs they spawned. Before that, blogs like Susie Bubble and Man Repeller, when both were on a much smaller scale than they are now.  

On Wednesday I got offered a place on the Central Saint Martins’ MA Fashion Journalism programme. We talked about my blog in the interview, which made me realise how much I owe to my 13-year-old self. Before I started submitting my writing elsewhere, it was this blog that sustained my interests. 

Fashion is always thinking about the future.

Nostalgia is everywhere in fashion. It overflows from retrospectives and vintage-inspired collections. Yet, there is never time to wallow in sentimentality. The industry moves too quickly to press pause.

I have always been nostalgic, sentimental, romantic. I long for lives I have never lived. Fashion lets you try on these lives. Perhaps that is why I am drawn to it. When I think about romance in fashion, I think of Grace Coddington standing at Versailles in The September Issue. Looking out across the gardens, she says, “I think I got left behind somewhere, because, you know, I’m still a romantic.”

There is a risk of getting left behind if you dwell on the past too much. There can be something radical and envigorating about deleting everything and starting anew. Killing your old self. Selling all your clothes. Deleting all your social media posts. I am embarking on a 30-day minimalism challenge this summer. However, the one thing I refuse to get rid of is old writing. 

I used to have grandiose notions about my old journal entries being published one day. Now, I would die of embarrassment if this happened. From a more practical perspective, I can at least look at old pieces and see the progression in my writing. We are often too quick to want to reinvent ourselves. The current version of ourselves is never enough. The past versions might as well be the most humiliating people to have ever lived. 

One day we will be embarrassed by our current selves as well. But what's the point in creating at all if we are already thinking about how we will hate our creation in the future? It's a question as old as art itself.

I started this blog because I needed to. It became an outlet to discuss things that no one wanted to talk about school. Blogging probably taught me as much as school did. It has often required an equal amount of research, work and (self)education.

Blogging walks the line between personal and professional. 

Some posts read like parts of a portfolio and others, like this one, are more like diary entries. The freedom of blogging is that both can exist in the same place. I used to write letters to my future self and hide them away in my wardrobe until it was time to open them. This blog is like a letter from my past self to my current and future selves.

This is predominantly a fashion blog. I am starting a course in fashion journalism, but fashion is not the only thing I want to write about. Yet, whether I am writing about a new trend, mental health, or being a teenage fangirl (a post I planned on my phone on my way to school in Year 12), every piece tells a story about that time in my life. It might be a very public documentation, but everyone's lives are documented publicly now.

I am glad that I have more than a few blurry Instagram photos to capture my early teen years. The risk of embarrassment is worth it. 

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