Michelle Obama Is a Fashion Icon and Mitt Romney Is All Business QampA With Style Guru Sian Pierre Regis
Sian-Pierre Regis is a fashion guru for our generation.
His site Swagger New York began in Paris as one of the first street style sites, and has continued to grow. Today they create content that highlights not just people on the streets but the items they love.
Swagger has interviewed up-and-coming musical acts like Azealia Banks, Chromeo, and Metronomy and has featured writers like Jeff Laub of the Blind Barber in their Fashion section.
I chatted with Sian-Pierre to get his take on hot trends, the signature millennial style, and who would win in a presidential candidate fashion face-off.
Elena Sheppard (ES): What characteristics define 20-something's style? If you could summarize our look in a few sentences or words what would you say?
Sian-Pierre Regis (SPR): 20-somethings LOVE the mixing of high-end and low-end, especially in New York. A well-made (and thrift) Christian Dior top with slim Urban Outfitters jeans is a look that we come across all the time on Swagger. The aspiration of 20-somethings for luxe runway looks has given way to fast-fashion - H&M, Topshop, etc- in my opinion. We love getting designer-looking items that are on-trend and relatively cheap at the same time they hit the high-end stores! Also, we like our looks to reflect our personalities, and as a generation we emote BIG - wide shouldered items, studs, blinged out necklaces, etc. have all been style hits because of their relevance to our collective taste.
ES: What about American style? How does our national look differ from our neighbors across the pond, or around the world?
SPR: American style, in New York anyway, is very in your face. When I started Swagger Paris, I was always surprised at how muted the colors were (all-black everything was the standard across France), but the fit is what sets American apart from other countries. Generally, Americans seem to care less about items that are perfectly tailored to fit our form, opting for items that either boast a brand name or SCREAM cool/different/trendy, etc. We really need to work on wearing clothes that complement our body types.
ES: Are there any brands or labels which you think particularly speak to our generation's fashion-sense or mind set?
SPR: Young street kids love Supreme, preppier college types love J.Crew and Madewell, and I see a lot of growth for brands like Topman/Topshop that churn out the hottest looks from the runways just as fast as the luxury design houses. Gap's making a comeback too ... just wait!
ES: In such a globalized world, has this generation become more uniform in its style or have we strived to find our individuality?
SPR: Interesting question. Seems like a bit of both actually. With the Internet, celebrity style has really informed what my/our generation is wearing. Rihanna's latest outfits fly off the racks and out of the online stores, for example. But thanks to this emergence of wild style a la Gaga, it seems that young people are more comfortable with exploring their style boundaries and testing out funky fashions more and more. Studded shoulder pads for example were big a year ago among Gen-Y. They're unique in that the mainstream wouldn't wear 'em, but they're not quite individualistic in that Gaga made them cool ... if that makes sense?
ES: Uniforms are very important to our culture. Why do we need our doctors to wear certain outfits, our pilots to wear uniforms, and our politicians to wear their patriotic clean-cut staples?
SPR: Gosh, I wish we didn't have these age-old rules about how different professions should dress. Our generation could care less if their politicians wore the same clothes as their professors. We LIVE for people who are authentic, honest, genuine and so if our doctor wore jeans and a button down, I don't think most of us would bat an eye. I don't know if it's just because we're young, we're a bit less conservative, but it doesn't quite make sense to me why we'd suggest that certain professions must wear specific threads .... does it make them any better at what they do? Not really.
ES: Urban Outfitters is now putting presidential candidates on t-shirts. Do you think millennials are eager to express their political opinions through fashion or is this choice misguided?
SPR: Seems like since Obama's 2008 run, some people have made their livelihood off of using his likeness on tees, shirts, shorts, and the like. And I think that young people are more and more likely to embrace supporting their political choices via their style. I think any statements a young person makes about being politically aware - word of mouth, style, or otherwise - is very encouraging, so I'm all about Urban Outfitters making politically-minded tees. Hell, we tag Facebook photos all of the time in support of our fave politicians, why not wear our support on our chest?
ES: In a style match-up who wins: Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? How would you define each of their style?
SPR: President Obama totally wins. He's much more slender and can fashion a slim-fitting suit better than any past president. President Obama's style is Political-Chic, Mitt Romney's is Business-Formal. The latter's looks are a little too heavy, rigid, and one-note for my taste.
ES: What about Michelle Obama? Are her fashion choices as noteworthy as everyone says? Is it important for our first lady to wear American designers?
SPR: Michelle Obama is our generation's Jackie Onassis, there's no doubt about it. She's always on-trend in high and low pieces and isn't afraid to make mistakes. She's embraced brights for spring 2012 (so on-trend), she's worn Target (so normal) and has also wowed in Prabal Gurung (so chic!). She's definitely a fashion role model for women of all ages, all classes and all sizes, and I think that's helped her husband's likability as well. I think it's great for her to use her platform to elevate lesser known American designers. With all of her choices so well-documented on blogs, she could easily revitalize a struggling American design house by wearing just one dress. It's just a smart move, politically and economically, for Ms. Obama to promote American fashion as much as possible. But I am not going to bat an eye if she wants to wear an Alexander McQueen dress! More power to her, lucky lady!