An Elaborate Interview With 'Fashion Beyond Fashion' Blogger Nunzia Garoffolo
(photos source: Fashion Beyond Fashion)
After several months of thinking about writing a blog post that talks about the reality of blogging. God had finally listened to my prayers and allowed me to meet Nunzia Garoffolo, a fashion blogger I met during my recent trip in Europe. My readers may recalled me talking about a new collaboration with the fashion blog "Fashion Beyond Fashion" from Italy. Well, Nunzia is the girl who writes the fabulous stories in it. Living in Rome, Italy, Nunzia is not your typical blogger who talks about fashion trends, runway shows, and 'what I wore today'. "Fashion Beyond Fashion", like the name implies, takes a step beyond talking about just simply - fashion. With her education background, Nunzia takes another approach to dissect political, economical, artistic, and philosophical point of view in the fashion industry. The blog, written in both English and Italian, reveals her genuine passion and thoughts - it's perhaps one of the most poetic fashion blogs I followed. Nunzia and I speaks the same tongue when it comes to this area. I decided to do an interview with her over Skype about her point of view as a fashion blogger and the blogosphere today. Amazingly, she gave me one of the MOST elaborate guest interview on Binzento Vincente. Ever. (Be sure to check out Nunzia's interview with Binzento on Fashion Beyond Fashion).
How did you start fashion blogging?
My path, my writing about fashion arisen as a self-taught from a passion I had since childhood, though my educational training has been under the sign of humanistic studies and law at university, more specifically Private Comparative law, field on which I had worked as student and later as assistant at the University of Rome La Sapienza. I tell you about my legal training as it enriched me very much, it increased my open-minded attitude, my way and lust of knowing different realms and consider them as a purpose of enrichment, not to separate, but to get closer (and also it made me pay attention to words, the use of words as the laws that while tell something act, the performative use of words, its holy respect along with to the care for words embodying a thought, an autonomous thought that tells and does. That has been and is a leitmotiv of my writings as well as the idea of lightness, taught by this discipline which can be very hard and boring to read as it taught by a famous jurist Cicero, one of my childhood heroes, a master the art of eloquence and writing as it shines in “De Amicitia”, a treaty about the friendship he wrote, a little book I love and I highly suggest to read). After all law as fashion, literature and every other channel of communication represents the spirit of a group of people, history, traditions, tension of people in a certain place and in a specific lapse of time.
Coming back to your question, after winning a PHD in the field of my final dissertation, International Commercial Arbitration (now I tell you something hilarious connected to my personal background: ADR, the acronym which in realm of fashion evokes Anna Dello Russo, for an expert on arbitration I has been yesterday meant at first Alternative Dispute Resolution, a set of means and rules to solve controversies without starting a legal action behind a tribunal), I felt the need of expressing that emotional side featuring in me I couldn’t made through the law. Then I started writing about culture, costume and fashion, collaborating with many magazines, online, paper, foreigner and Italian ones (as Matrix, BMM, B>, Arts Monthly Australia, Drome Magazines, Style.it and also with the blog A Shaded View On Fashion). I felt the need of doing that, to discover, see and talk about something which was going to be born at the same time of its rise. It has been a natural path, a choice, arisen from to the desire of investing on myself, giving my own modest contribute as I think life is sharing.
My main purpose is not to appear on photographs, wearing the items made by this or that fashion designer, but making a virtual information which is free, balanced where the visual element is equal to written element as well as a democratic issue, to give everyone the chance of knowing, discovering new things, hopefully increasing and giving rise to new consciousnesses and ideas, nourishing the minds of different people, not just the minds of insiders or fashion enthusiasts. It’s a politic and poetic way to see fashion which is another channel of communication and a source of culture, it’s not just items to wear, goods to sell or purchase, naturally it is also that, but fashion or rather the fashion I celebrate joins a genuine aesthetics to a vibrant ethic, as fashion like an artwork is something which touches you and makes you think about.
What is your search and the core of your work?
“I celebrate fashion which like an artwork is something which touches you and makes you think about. Thus that is what which makes think about an art-inspired blog, which focuses on fashion as an artwork, but the name “Fashion Beyond Fashion” and the word “beyond”, fully expresses the core of my work, my search and my concept oriented approach. My blog is based on the valorization of creativity in its more unconventional, new and catchy forms, as well as the promotion of an independent way of thinking dressed with a touch of irreverence and deep lightness under the sign of a political and poetic vision of fashion, as total work of art as well as universal and intelligible channel of communication, exploring fashion and its intersections with music, cinema, art, culture and literature. The blog is also also more than this. I think about the blog as a non-place to look and shares dreams, tensions, ideals, fantasies and suggestions of every individual by the exploitation of its creativity. The concept oriented approach is my way to explore fashion, which is a seasonal phenomenon, its philosophy inside out the catwalk, celebrating the creativity it embodies as well as an unconventional asymmetric elegance ( elegance meant as lifestyle and not considered as a decoration) and a timeless style. Considering more specifically the content I think about two main features included in my blog, something I look at, promote and celebrate as emerging creativity and ethical fashion, as evidence of fashion embodying a healthy ethic and a vibrant aesthetics. Considering emerging talents, this topic often doesn’t coincide with the one belonging to the mainstream media which rarely - often, but fortunately not always – features in it and when it is, it features in a small amount. When I talk about that I consider the emerging creatives there are worldwide who cannot afford to pays seasonally, monthly, weekly or daily to advertise their brand and their collection or its costs in order to get easily the chance of being known by the audience (potential purchaser or enthusiast) as well as the chance to feature in a mainstream fashion magazine in its editorial as a brand, a new brand especially during contemporary times - like a trend - it takes time, years to be recognized, codified and hopefully codified by the mainstream. It is not a mere critique as paper magazines have and act, considering different times. That was the added value connected to the work made until now by fashion bloggers, showcasing how much bright young talented there are all around the world. That is a result of fact and it is not or want being an mere ode to the fashion bloggers (reality is often too faced and like everything also the fashion blogging is a complex phenomenon embodying dark sides too).
I also like the eclecticism inside out fashion, more specifically the expression of creativity of an artist, a fashion designer or an author inside out the realm of fashion. As eclecticism, the result made by creatives as Karl Lagerfeld, who is a legendary fashion designer and a smashing photographer, Hedi Slimane or by David Byrne and Peter Greenaway in the field of arts is something I love and celebrate: the creativity made concrete in different realms giving rise to artworks. I talk about an artist like David Byrne who is a brilliant musician, songwriter, author and visual artist as music is another leitmotiv of the blog. In fact beyond the balance between written and image content I use featuring a music, a video music which evokes the suggestions embodied by an object, a collection, an exhibition a book. Being the blog a self-referential medium, obviously it presents my point of view, my emotions expressed through music which is a powerful, immediate, universal and intelligible media. Music touches, touches the heart, make you dream and think about. Music has its own colors and colors feature in fashion. it’s another core, another means and I think all the channels of communication have to dialogue with themselves. That is another idea, evoking the Wagner’s idea of the total artwork, the idea which gave rise yesterday to the Bayreuth theatre ( Wagner is one of my favorite composers, I like talking about him and remembering the current year, the 2013 is the Wagnerian year)”.
Considering the written content I use the standards I told you, focused on the idea of lightness and care for the language, my native language, the Italian, a language being so rich and wonderful and English language, which embodies and reaches a different point of view and a kind of minimalism, another beautiful language (celebrated at best by Lord George Byron and Oscar Wilde), as language represents our roots, it’s just not a means to communicate, it is a source, a source of culture. And if multimedia gave us as gift the accessibility to many informations, a source of knowledge, it made language as culture more fragmentary. To tell that is not requested today it can be too superficial, but to understand why that happens it should be considered the dominant value/disvalue of contemporary times and the fact knowledge is the result of a continuous overlapping of images where the least deletes the last, it’s a crystallization of culture. Maybe it sounds like a paradox to hear that from a fashion blogger, but seeing and understanding that, it makes my care for the language more incisive. I think images tell as like words and there is not an alternative, they coexist, though there are in the blogosphere fashion blogs that feature a image content or where the primacy is given by pictures over the written content, but it’ s not me and it’s not what features in my blog”.
What do you think about the status of fashion blogosphere, the current status quo, decadence, further changes and/or what will feature in it during the forthcoming times?
“I told you about the added value resulting from the blogosphere, the idea of democracy connected to it: to give the chance of everyone to get infos, to be able of being instantaneously and quickly informed and thus being more conscious. The other side is the chance of becoming pro-active or rather a source of knowledge and contribute to enlarge and share the knowledge which so renews itself. The value of sharing is a leitmotiv of me as individual and professional, as knowledge has to be spread and shared, it is not a source for few ones, it has to be available to everyone, as knowledge is culture and culture is consciousness of one considered as sole individual as well as featuring in the world we live. Therefore everyone must have the chance of open its mind, enlarge its point of view and refresh, renew it or emancipate oneself, hopefully getting an autonomous way of thinking, as well as more freedom and respect for the world where we live. That is the most healthy and beautiful features of blogosphere, but as I told you, reality is two faced and there is also its dark side. The dark side is connected to the contemporary status quo of culture which arises from a continuous overlapping of images, emphasized by the social networks and also by the blogs from which arises a crystallization of the same. In fact the democracy, speed, the active role by the consumers and users of news made concrete in the blogosphere has accompanied by a fragmentation of the news or rather of controversial news that have no dignity of news. I tell that considering the blog arises as a self-referential means, it’s one of its basic features, but often, beyond being a dashboard telling about something by visions, pictures and words, it is just a window to present oneself, to get more exposure. That is not connected to the fashion blog, category of the wide range of blogs there are in the blogosphere, but is connected to the dominant values of contemporary times and the current generations. It’s clear means are changed, the codes of expression are changed.
The web and the blogosphere as well as social networks have made a marvelous revolution, but they also emphasized and succeeded to make concrete the Andy Warhols’ idea “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”. Thus everyone got famous also for over for 15 minutes by the multimedia. And for the current big brother generation, a generation which grew up where the collective unconscious was focused on “money, success, fame and glamour”, as the celebrated party promoter Michael Alig - founder of the Club Kids of whose shining and tragic story has told by the movie Party monster I interviewed while he was in jail, having killed a man - sang in the Nineties, a generation where a the hyper exposure often justifies and gives a sense to a empty - though it can seem like more or less catchy and charming – nothingness along with a crystallization of culture, arisen from the overlapping of images and also because culture is not requested for getting money, success fame and glamour. Here it shines media phenomenon more or less brilliant, more or less iconic, who built their career and fame working on the frame, on their frame and acting on the frame. That has been the dominant value, the feature in the unconscious collective spread and emphasized through the media. This status quo overlaps with an age of economic, politic and cultural crisis in detriment to the knowledge (as knowledge makes more free and independent and that makes the dominant classes scared who have to know, manage and control the minds of masses to save and increase their power). Multimedia changed the way of creating, developing and spreading knowledge, it’s is a fact.
Considering the mainstream, knowledge became the result of images, a continuous overlapping of images (where the least cancels the last). Images in detriment or rather lacking a real point of view, being not expression of a thought. Telling that it sounds like unusual as it told by a fashion blogger who doesn’t forget to consider or celebrate how much good has made or currently exists, as it exists but that is not a mainstream goal, it sounds like the exception confirming the rule. Observing the realm of fashion I look at the mainstream, at phenomenons it emphasized as consumerism and fashionism that had a real primacy over culture and fashion culture. Why did happen? Knowledge is more fragmentary as there is a lot of choice inside out the web, there is more freedom of choosing (another added value), but it happens that a more freedom of choice, creates more confusion and give rise to a kind of laziness of the reader. The reader, more specifically the web reader is in hurry, thus it want be informed with few lines. That is reasonable and an added value of blogs if and when they feature news, but it doesn’t happen in the mainstream, in the blog’ s reality of big numbers. It happens a fashion blogger showcases her/his/their new hairstyle, eyewear, hair color, dress and so on (I avoid including the photographic fashion blogs as they have as a – marvelous, good, nice, mediocre or controversial – concept to make a style street search through pictures). That is not made to express a point of view, an idea, a vision, it’s just a showcase, to showcase for being, but that is not an exclusivity of fashion blogging. That is the way knowledge develops. Nothing stays in the mainstream, the past doesn’t represent the trait d’ union, the red rope joining the past to present and it is a means to enrich it and/or consider, think about the future. It is deleted or considered to increase the postmodernism, the approach which featured in the last decades in the realm of arts as well as in fashion. Thus it is hard to recognize as new, read again and interpret reality if you have not, don’t use any semiotic codes. Skills and sensitivity can help, but don’t substitute the knowledge, culture. That should be a deontological duty and ultimate purpose for the ones who write, who professionally work as blogger and fashion blogger: to give a real information, a thought made of visions and words being intellectually honest and coherent, hopefully embodying a critique to create something instead of destroying, dialogue. I am not catastrophic but you have to observe how is reality and know what exists in the contemporary times and in its mainstream in order to increase and to give your modest contribution in this world.
Until now I considered the mainstream, though I act outside it writing as independent fashion blogger and making concrete on the web a kind of Pasolinian marginalism, as the mainstream involves a wide range of people, more than that underground can do, as it’s underground. That is not to mark on the mainstream and criticize it, but it is just in order to understand reality and its main features. I like reminding the adversarial point of view of fashion journalists who criticized fashion blogging when it has arisen. Later, understanding the marketing potentialities of a blog, websites of renowned mainstream fashion magazines or editor-in-chiefs, celebrated columnists as well as stylists endowed of a blog. It’s known a blog it’s a medium to promote the individual, but the difference is in the purposes, the way to get them, the content and its shape. That evokes what I told you before about the hyper exposure which gives sense also to a junk product, empty nothingness and it’s a question regarding both, the mainstream and underground. I respect the mainstream media, understand its dynamics and timing, but I wish it could be set up a genuine dialogue between mainstream and underground media and culture as it would be an added value for the information, giving rise to a wider point of view, an enrichment for both, as separations, the divisions, categories and closed community to observe reality, talk about that, are rough and approximate and above all these ones dry up the knowledge, culture and the thought.
I used the word independent to talk about my blog and this word is strictly connected to another issue shining in the blogosphere (but also in the fashion magazines): what is independence and what is and does it mean to make concrete the independence in the realm of media? That is the light red line - which can sound like controversial -, separating the truth from the fiction. Basically independence is presented as reference to contents and the involving of young creatives, fashion photographers - as I recently heard during the talk concerning the photographic exhibition “Fluo, six photographers for six independent magazines” which was held at Treviso TRA Cultural Association during the event Fashion at Iuav 2013, organized by the smashing Fashion Design Faculty of IUAV University of Venice headed by the brilliant fashion curator, professor, author and critic Maria Luisa Frisa -, who want to express their ideas, ideas that don’t join with the ones from the mainstream. I respect that, this open-minded attitude and focus on contemporary times and underground made by many Italian and foreigner magazines, but this underground way follows the same logics, marketing ideas and approach also concerning the advertising and distribution, the limits dividing a mainstream from an underground product fade. And it becomes a little bit controversial. The feature distinguishing an underground product is to make profit and live as underground product, instead the one of a mainstream product is make profits for the media group which owns them. It has a different context, but it is the same idea. That increases my respect for the mainstream media, which is clear in its acting focused on the increase of profits while it follows its concept, it’s coherent with its purpose. Instead underground media seems being less coherent, in my opinion which doesn’ t consider magazines who make concrete a middle compromise or rather a middle independence. Independence is a whole value and it’s exploitation should be cover the whole circuit, from the rise of an issue, the contents to the distribution (as it fully is evidenced by Vestoj, the Journal of sartorial matters, a smashing magazine, including also in its website a marvelous blog, asserting in its manifesto advertising is forbidden as well as the independence in though and action. That is independence for me). The cross-cultural feature is not independence, it could be a feature of a magazine, giving a kind of different content, but acting like other magazines. That is another point which finds the same context in the fashion blogs, its advertising policy as well as another controversial point concerning independence, in the facts, the news and actions. I recently read an article I shared on my blog by Ralph Nader, “Love, corporate-style”, featuring in the Huffington Post, talking about the brands that treat the audience as a friend in the social networks. It happens a friend gives you something as a gift, it’s a thought by a friend, an expression of love and friendship, but what does it happen when it comes from a brand or worst when it becomes from a brand as a means to exchange an article, a positive article with an items or other, it can include also a review of a hotel. Is that independence, independence in expressing your opinion, is that can be considered fashion journalism? The response to this question I already has given in a post, “Fade to grey: Fashion blogging & journalism”.
I did the due premises before answering to your question concerning the decadence or further developments in the blogosphere, as all of those sides, issues affects it as well as the fashion blogging. As it has a need to consider blogging and the blogosphere as a whole phenomenon to understand it better and consider its further developments. Having everything there is in this world a rise and an end, all can end, but every human action, result of human work can end or can transform and renew itself. Fashion blogging is something arisen in 2006 and after 7 years of life and massive development - I consider especially the last 3 years -, like a trend, a product into the market, it has its up, and its down times, before reaching a position of balance, presumably renewing itself or worst also including also its eventual end. I think quality will get a new relevance, though it will continue to exist the fashion blogs featuring the combination of dress, the swap fashion blogs, as it is a brand oriented approach and brands care of featuring in those mediums, being a way to increase its positive social opinion, become today, due to the multimedia very relevant and producing a lot of positive effects in order to get more customers and increase their customer loyal management. Concerning the other fashion blogs, I think the crowd of fashion blogs already existing will make weaker the most knows fashion blogs ( that is a date which gave rise to a kind of platform embodying more blogs which are directly connected to the others featuring in the platform) as every reader will look for the fashion blog which is most closely connected to its vision beyond its fame. Fashion blogging’s icons old or young ones will be replaced by new ones, as people look for the new get curious for the new, but quality is the standard. Thus it’s up to the ability of refresh, renew or reinvent themselves, as times changes and when times changes it needs to be in the contemporary times. It’s all about quality and skills connected to bright, vibrant ideas. I think there will arise new young icons, young fashion bloggers who will be bringers of different values, spiritual values and they will be successful. I told about new values, spiritual values as sustainability, as well as a new way to inform people, influenced by multimedia, but it is also more adherent to reality. People, young people especially need and look for something genuine, something representing them, their dreams and visions. Dominant values are changing, thus some people are changing, others have already changed, but it will be a long transitional path which will end within about five years. In the meantime the social networks will be dominant as well as the platforms and website acting as a social network. The world needs something different, the failure of capitalism, its values as it has evidenced by the worldwide economic crisis we lived and we are also living, brought the rise of a new consciousness, more care for fairness, respect for the dignity of people, the recognition of rights as the ones involving the LGBT community arisen in some countries ( I wish it will happen also in other countries that made and are still making is a sign marriage between gay same sex people as Italy and Russia) along with the collapse of environment, the climatic issues connected to it. All these issues obviously influence and will influence the society and the individuals peopling it, fashion bloggers as creatives acting in the realm of fashion, as individuals will be influenced by the new values become some relevant. Someone are already acting in this sense, as Ilaria Venturini Fendi, the fashion designer creator of ethical fashion brand of accessories and furnishing Carmina Campus - focused on the re-use and promoting along with the UN agency ITC and making concrete the idea of emancipate people through work, giving the chance of people from poorest countries as Kenya to learn a work and work, as work is a value dignifying the individual and giving a contribute to the society where she/he lives - and Vivienne Westwood who also did the same along an activist work in order to pay attention and make people more sensitive on the issue connected to the planet’s overheating. I am realistic and optimistic, maybe “I am a dreamer, but” - I am sure - “I am not the only one”, as yesterday sang John Lennon: Thus I believe in the progress and in the wonders, magic embodied in every human being as well as the precious contribution everyone can give to make this world a better place, acting, making, creating and working. And that has be made, promoted and supported also by fashion, which is a realm embodying creativity and values, values belonging to human beings who want to give their modest contribute. Sharing is a relevant value which needs to be developed, and made concrete how it deserves and the blogosphere, which did much in this direction, can still do more and better and I wish it succeed to give rise to new things, goals to get”.
Thank you Nunzia (Fashion Beyond Fashion) for this wonderful interview - I am pretty sure collaboration Binzento x FBF will continue to prosper for years to come.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook and/or Google Follow on the right hand column :) xx --->
Subscribe to my YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/vwslaw
Be my fan on 微博: @羅偉承Binzento
Find me on Tumblir: Binzento