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Fifteen minutes of fashion fame

Andy Warhol really was a pop culture prophet. To predict that "in the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes" from the vantage point of a rundown warehouse in 1968 was pretty visionary. He saw Survivor, Simon Cowell, X-Factor, YouTube and The Jersey Shore long before the rest of us had them IQ’d.

I wonder if his Magic 8 Ball was sponsored by a first generation Kardashian?

His foresight struck me last week whilst in London for the international collections. Thanks to the internet and the explosion of 'street style' photography the new fifteen minutes is the 'reality model' – people who model their own clothes for no money on the street for strangers.

For those of you who have actual jobs and other priorities, let me give you the Wiki version: there’s an entire business/subculture of photography that is all about capturing people’s native styles. Most of it takes place in New York, London, Paris and Milan three times a year outside the Couture and RTW shows. From this phenomenon has sprung the aforementioned wannabe.

There are people on the fashion circuit that have made a name (and a living) by becoming global street style stars. Anna Della Russo, editor-at-large of Vogue Japan is probably the best example. Last year in Paris, I was completely transfixed as she jumped and twirled around the pyramid of the Louvre like a ballerina for Scott Schuman of The Satorialist fame. She was dressed like a peacock. Literally. In boob-to-knee feathers and knee-high boots.

Anna is at the pointy end of the plane – she gets paid to wear feathers and prance – most of the flock are lay people (ie, not in the industry) and that’s what makes it so fascinating. Now, one of my absolute favourite things to do is watch the people who walk up and down outside the fashion shows waiting, hoping and posing.

They’re often the same people, repeat offenders and can be broken down into five main categories:

1. The Man In A Dress: Living in Sydney this is nothing new but a man in women’s clothing is standard issue at any major show. It can be subtle – chandelier earrings with a kilt - or an in-your-face ball gown teamed with a mantilla hat, walking up and down à la Miss Havisham waiting for the same immortalisation.

2. The Art Installation: These are often fashion or design students wearing a piece from their latest collection. I use that term loosely because once I mistook a young girl for telegraph pole. They’re not really wearing clothes - they’re wearing materials.

3. From Japan With Love: There’s always a representation from Punk Alley in Harajuku. I love the place but once you pull these outfits out of context it looks like Hello Kitty just joined the space program.

4. The Magazine Intern: She’s wearing black, she has a blog and spent her last three months' rent on a Proenza Schouler ps11. So she is hungry...but on trend.

5. The Fish Out Of Water: This is the person who has accidentally walked into the fashion fray. They may be a tourist from Minnesota in white lycra bike shorts and bum bag or a mum wearing Birkenstocks and pushing a Bugaboo. They are photographed because they're 'ironic'.

It looks as though a sixth category may be waiting in the wings as indicated by a young girl I discovered posing against a statue outside the Burberry show. She had waist-length blonde extensions and was wearing a blue-mirrored bubble dress similar to those you see on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding or a float at Disneyland. I wanted proof that a girl and an outfit like this existed, so I asked the photographer snapping her which site I could find her picture on. He looked at me like I was insane, replying: "What? This is a fake shoot. I’m her cousin. She wants to win X-Factor next year and needs to practice being famous."

I think that’s the part Andy left out of the prophecy. It seems an awful lot of work for just fifteen minutes…

Paula Joye is editor of www.lifestyled.com.au, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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