Almost totally pictorial, sprinkled with some designer and street quotes, it’s a full-color replication superb in both its variety and none too humble aim.
It’s a journal for want of a better term: more a hallowed record of Western humanity as lived in the East End of London, and it offers hope in that despite the bitsification* of our social media lives, the overt maneuverings of violence and intolerance in our streets, and the whimsical prevarications of governments towards individual freedoms—many are willing to say, “This is me, take it or blow.”
To call it a celebration, a cornucopia, a montage is all too cliché. This is purely a portrayal of fashion as it is, as it can be, and as it always will be: humans taking their internal selves in hand and wrapping it up for defiant external view.
“East End Fashionistas” is a contemporary fashion photo-capsule, each page a pleasure to study. The only thing I craved was the voices. Where did each wearer source his or her couture? How did it make him or her feel? What mood sparked his or her choice that day? Had wearing it furnished the requisite emotional fulfillment?
As is, we can only seek these answers from the subjects’ expressions themselves. And that makes for an intriguing journey for each face is captured delicately.
“East End Fashionistas” will thrill the curious—art, design, and fashion; and those like me, seeking a peek into an alternative worldview curled in a comfortable chair. This is not an oversized coffee table book, but one bound in a flexible cover and therefore suited to a very intimate read.
As the bestselling photo collection, Humans of New York, recently morphed into “Humans of New York Stories” I can only hope “Fashionistas” continues along a similarly themed trend.
It’s a sensational effort by Photographer, Anthony Webb. I particularly liked the apt quotes early on from Malcolm McLaren (now a truism I feel) and Vivienne Westwood.
What better way to invigorate the soul than to experience the individual slightly esoteric, yet far from extinct?
Webb, A. (2015) East End Fashionistas. London, Thames & Hudson Ltd.
* My term for our 21st Century cultural drought.
Picture: The book featuring small front matter slipcover. Author’s collection and photo.