Nov 9, 2011

REVIEW | New York Look Book | Amy Larocca and Jake Chessum | Melcher Media | 2007


New York Look Book, Book Cover
There are many mediums of art but, has it ever crossed your mind that fashion could be yet another form of art?  We each have our own style that is inspired by who we are, what we do, and is ultimately a way of projecting our personality.  In my opinion this is the same with art such as performance, drawing, or visual art in which, they all have a language of their own.  Amy Larocca and Jake Chessum state, " You can tell a lot about a banker from the cuff of his shirt, or about an NYU student from her Hermes scarf, or about an artist from the mounds of old mascara lining his eyes."  Over a period of three years Larocca and Chessum set up a temporary studio about once a month on a undisclosed street location in New york, waiting for someone to catch their eye.  The Look Book is a anthropological documentation on New York's street fashion.

The title of the book Look Book: A Gallery of Street Fashion summarizes what the book is about.  It is a collection of portraits of New York's residents.  This book is more that just simple portraits of New York style.  Coming from being a photography major whose main focus has been the study of social and cultural impact on individuals through portraits, I view this book as an insight into this topic.  A portrait is a silent image that in all actuality isn't really silent at all.  You can tell a lot about a person from body gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, etc.  All of these non verbal communications translate into a story; Look Book is a collection of these stories bound and distributed for all of us to discover and in a way is each individual in the books way of introducing themselves to us. 


New York Look Book, Janciza Bravo

Almost each portrait is accompanied with a short interview with the subject.  The above portrait of Janciza Bravo, a director, is paired with a short interview about the origin of her name being Polish which she didn't discover until taking a Russian Avant Garde class.  Bravo goes on to discuss the personal story behind shaving her head and the style she accompanies which she refers to as mostly vintage with very masculine attributes.

New York Look Book, Terrance Barton

Other portraits in the book simply have a name such as the image above of Terrance Barton with no interview but with a title of High- School Student.  I feel like this is one of the strongest images in the book.  It reminds me of paintings that made the face indistinguishable or hidden so most people could feel apart of the image or place themselves in it.  The simple title of High- School Student paired with this image gives off that feeling of discovering yourself, coming into your own, and the social situations you find yourself in during high school.   I can't generalize what High School is like for everyone but I can say that I found myself trying to distinguish myself from others as were most of the students around me.  The question of who you are and what are you going to do all of sudden hits you during those four years.

New York Look Book, John Howard Knight III AKA "TRE"
Look Book does a great job at capturing the identities and stories of everyone in it and doesn't only limit its subjects to a younger crowd but rather a crowd that covers every age group.  It's interesting to see the style of the older generation next to the younger one.  Each individual has experienced different events in their lives and the older individuals have seen and lived through many changes and situations.  The story of each individual through their fashion style in their everyday wear is a great concept and shows the different influences of New York's culture and social scene.

-Angela Zamora

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