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I V Y Paris joins 360 fashion


Today is the day I V Y paris proudly becomes part of the 360 fashion network so I thought it was a good opportunity to re-publish my article from October 2005 when I first encountered Anina (pictured) and the 360 fashion posse........

"After a cursory glance at the “Lifeblog” of top-model Anina (“Anina.net”) I admit it, I scoffed. Fashion models are rarely known for their dazzling insights and literary capabilities. But I’m a Blogger myself and was in the mood to get revved up for Paris’ Prêt à Porter. So to the Anina conference I went, to celebrate what NOKIA called, “the interconnectivity of the human spirit”.

A Blog is your personal space on the Internet where you share your thoughts and things you find interesting, a bit like a diary you publish to the world, or maybe with only one or two people. Often used to keep in touch with friends and family, Blogs are increasingly in demand as public relations tools while some attract huge followings in their own right. These days a new Blog is created every second, there are now 30 million of them worldwide - up from 100,000 three years ago.

Nokia is stumped. Haven’t the “early-adopter” Fashionistas been a tad slow to catch on to the Blogging phenomenon? In an industry where the pace of trends can be staggering and keeping pace of who is “hipper than thou” is all, it seems a trifle strange.

My theory is the in-crowd has shunned them because “Blog’ is such an ugly, unglamorous and dare I say, “utilitarian” word. It sounds like something you could find in your nose. Who in the world came up with it? A techie probably. You know, one of those 14-year-old hackers hunched over a motherboard in their darkened bedroom. That is, until top-model slash geek, Anina, surfaced.

Born in Michigan she began modelling at an early age, but when a friend's illness prompted her to step off the runway to nurse him for a year, they skill-swapped. He taught her html and she taught him Ashtanga yoga. I don't know how his Lotus position is now but Anina is nobody's fool when it comes to cyberspace. She built her first personal website in 2001 to help keep in touch with those at home after she hit the runway.

Now Anina is the hub of the 360° Fashion Project website which brings together a roster of industry professionals to share their personal vision with us through their “Lifeblogs” - model (Anina), photographer (Sonny Vandevelde), artist (Iris Brosch) and other industry professionals. They’re Blogging with the help of their NOKIA N90’s, a device which allows them to update their Blogs with digital images and audio on the move.

Legendary fashion critic Diane Pernet (Blog “A Shaded View on Fashion”) – you might remember her from Robert Altman's Prêt à Porter – is also on the team and makes an entrance in her trademark Mantilla, or is that her hair? Hurrah for a little panache amidst all the tech jargon. One of the more senior participants, she seems to be the most Blog-savvy (apart from Anina of course) and describes how she is using her Blog to disseminate news on fashion, art and culture with the help of contributors across the globe – in cities such as Bangkok as well as Fashion capitals Paris, London, NYC and Milan.

The images are crisp and exceedingly clear. The ability to zap a film clip, audio message, text or photo to your Blog whilst still on the move (using Bluetooth technology) is very attractive. Normally you’d have to wait until you reach a computer to update and sometimes the moment has simply passed.

In light of the bad press models have been attracting recently, Anina is refreshingly intelligent and articulate. She firmly believes that Blogs can rescue models from being portrayed as coke heads or obsessive-compulsive shoppers, binge eaters or mute clothes horses. Blogs can give them the autonomy they need to express themselves and allow them to communicate and interact with aspiring models and fans. And of course, advertising and promotional revenues could prove a lucrative sideline to strutting their stuff.

But at least it would allow them some control over their own lives in an Industry where they are often shamefully exploited. 360° Fashion Blogger Lionel Dejean of World Scouting Model Management claims countless cases in Paris where models were not paid for their work or paid well below standard. There is even evidence, he notes, to suggest that foreign models have their passports confiscated by some agencies upon arrival. He has approached the Ministry of Employment in France to request investigation, but as no one complains, officials cannot launch an enquiry. Of course, if you’re 16 years old and a long way from Siberia there can be nowhere to turn for advice and information to protect yourself. Blogs could help build a community where models can support each other and protect those who are vulnerable to a part of Industry that the glossy magazine’s would rather pretend did not exist.

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