Defining A Metropolis
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only; fashion is something in the air. It’s the wind that blows in the new fashion; you feel it coming, you smell it. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Coco Chanel was quite a lady—articulate, iconic, and business-savvy. She knew her identity without a doubt, and her fashion was an essential part of that sense of self. You can hate or love the fashion industry, but it’s undeniable that clothes and appearances are the first things we notice about one another when walking down the street.
So what do the streets of Boston say about us? If Coco is right (and I certainly agree with the poetry she finds in fabric), then the styles around us are about ideas, ways of life, and personality. Those are the same things that define us as a city and community. Boston becomes more and more metropolitan every year, and while we used to pride ourselves on being a tight-knit, exclusive city (either you were Boston born-and-raised or you were an outsider), our industry and education opportunities and general living appeal have made Boston a city that people aspire to move to, bringing with them experiences and styles from their prior lives.
With this influx of people, we now have to ask what defines a Bostonian. Walking down the street, a dozen different ethnicities and styles are present, so how does Boston unite itself in a cohesive identity?
One set of mystery Facebook users are attempting to answer the question of identity pictorially, having started Humans of Boston (sassily nicknamed HONY). They only have a small following thus far, but the photos they have posted absolutely capture “the flourishing, luxuriantly sustainable bastion of creativity ... the Bostonian.” On the Common, personalities range from two sweet, elderly ladies in high-tea garb to sombrero-wearing friends (who sport incredibly cute leather satchels) to five boys who could be the grown up version of One Direction. There’s humor in each photograph, but more importantly, there’s a piece of what makes up Boston.
My inspiration for this column, though, was not from the spontaneous photos that HONY captured—it was from the incredibly stylish and artistic folks on lookbook.nu. Hint: don’t get distracted by new websites coming up on the end of semester. Am I behind on the times in discovering this gem of a website? If so, forgive me, I only gave in to Twitter about a week ago, so I am clearly not the most reliable source for novel Internet sensations.
But, alas, Lookbook entranced me for hours last night as I scrolled through pages and pages of ensembles. And they really have to be called ensembles, since the photos are more than pieces of clothing thrown together—they are stories woven together to form an eye-catching experience.
You can search by any number of categories, one of which is location. Boston has quite a solid representation on the website, and seeing the endless variations of colors, cloths, and cuts was an overwhelming experience. This is how I define Boston: a mirage of vivid people, demonstrating their love for the city posing in some of the most recognizable sites. After all, “today every principle of identity is affected by fashion.”