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Friday, January 27, 2012

S.F. Street Fashion: Conversing with Strangers Who Might Someday Be Famous

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 2:00 PM

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One of my favorite things about photographing people on the street is the interactions I have with them. Their personalities are sometimes sweet, sometimes shy, and sometimes downright batty. A few weeks ago, I approached a man to take his photo. He refused, but then spent 20 minutes questioning me about my blog posts. "How does it work?" he kept asking. I explained that I take photos, upload them to my computer, edit them, and then put them on the Internet. "Yeah, but how does it really work?" he'd say. "Are there wires?" I think what he was really asking me was how the Internet works, an unexpected question in tech-savvy San Francisco. Also, what looked like a cigar in his mouth from far away turned out to be a rolled-up tea bag, so maybe he was a little crazy. Even though I didn't get the photo, I'm still wondering about him. Where was he going, so elegantly dressed, with a tea bag stuffed in his mouth? Why did he have 20 minutes to spare on a conversation with me?

One of my encounters this week trumped all previous ones -- I met Jaqueline. Earlier this month, I wrote about how inspired I am by older women with killer fashion sense, and Jaqueline's style is a perfect example of what I was saying. Check out her photos and story below. Also, in this week's post: disco ball earrings, accessory dogs, and Lady Gaga (she's not actually in here, but I talk about her).

KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger

As soon as I held up the camera, she started telling me all about her clothes. Everything she's wearing is vintage from Paris. She's obsessed with Parisian style -- the couture, the quality of clothes, the fit. She travels to Paris every year to go vintage shopping, and she cycles out the clothing in her closet like a true Parisian, keeping things only for a few seasons. (We hope she's unloading her closet at our local vintage stores.) We spent quite a while chatting; we covered traveling, shopping, sewing, and dieting before she excused herself and continued down the street. Look at her hand-sewn, vintage gloves (she wanted to make sure I got a photo of them) and notice her gigantic pearl earrings, because they're going to come up again later.

Jaqueline's gloves were hand-sewn by a fashion-conscious Parisian of yesteryear. - KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger
  • Jaqueline's gloves were hand-sewn by a fashion-conscious Parisian of yesteryear.

Her dog is a fashionista too: See his houndstooth leash? - KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger
  • Her dog is a fashionista too: See his houndstooth leash?

I was initially drawn to her by her trendy chartreuse pants and tangerine nails. We're going to be seeing a lot more of both colors this spring -- Pantone named tangerine the color of the year, and Oscar de la Renta showed pants and dresses in that same yellow-green shade at New York Fashion Week last year. Chartreuse is a daunting color to wear, but it shouldn't be. It's surprisingly flattering on a range of skin tones, and you can take your styling cue from this woman: Just dress it down and you'll be fine.

However, I didn't even notice my favorite part of her outfit until I was editing the photo. Her mix of patterns is fabulous; see if you can spot the stripes, houndstooth, and leopard print below.

Pattern perfection. - KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger
  • Pattern perfection.

KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger

How cute is she? She looks adorable in those oversized polka dots and patent leather shoes. She's like a more punk version of Madeline, the children's book character who always wears the little hat and frock coat. Look at the close-up (below) and you'll notice her disco ball earrings. These were a theme this week; Jaqueline had her giant pearls and the next person you're about to see has some pretty sparkly studs as well. Is there a trend going on that I don't know about?

KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger

KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger

Dear San Francisco, I love you for many reasons, but mainly because you attract people who dress like this as a casual, everyday part of their lives. Good job.

Seriously though, where do you even find a shearling coat like that? It's incredible. I feel sort of bad comparing her to Lady Gaga because she probably gets that a lot, but she vividly reminds me of her. And Lady Gaga is a pretty flattering person to be told you look like, right? This photo also made me think of another street style photographer, The Sartorialist, who did photograph Lady Gaga. He spotted her in New York before she was famous, and when he photographed her, she told him something along the lines of, "You'll be hearing more about me one day." He had to hold back laughter at the time, but I'm sure he's not laughing now. Anyway, I'm thinking about that for two reasons: One, she looks a lot like that vintage Gaga picture, and two, what if someday she's famous and we all look back on this photo in awe? I have a feeling it's going to happen.

KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger

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About The Author

Kate Conger

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Kate Conger has written for SF Weekly since 2011.

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