An Almost Immortal Parisian Look // Un style parisien presque immortel - On "Cultural Appropriation" © Chant Wagner 2018
Sometimes street photography veers into street style when you come upon someone very put-together, who could not be mistaken for an indifferent dresser...
This look is inspired by the figure of the "titi parisien" (think Gavroche in Les Miz') combined with a "bal musette" or popular dance-hall allure. The woman is wearing dancer's shoes, a marine blue skater's skirt with two white stripes running above the hem, but also a polka dot blouse underneath a pastel pink cardigan.
The natural linen cap recreates this instantaneously recognizable homage to Parisian style, one of many you can go towards when you want to feel like you're embracing the culture. It's interesting how this looks almost like a costume, but isn't, thanks to well-managed cultural appropriation.
To us, "cultural appropriation" can mean borrowing from an identifiable cultural cohesion which appeared at a historic point in time and making it mobile, fluid and hybridable yet still coherent.
In open and democratic societies where social mobility is valued, we don't see how you could refuse to value cultural mobility as well. But lately, you hear so much about cultural appropriation in a negative sense - as if you had to have been on the barricades of the Paris Commune in the 19th century - or your ancestors at least - to be able to wear outfits inspired by a certain period of time and the events that defined it.
We think it's great to see collective memory and the values it carries in action in the way that people dress.