Interview: Ada from Classiq

I am thrilled to welcome Ada from Classiq for the inaugural interview on This Is Six. I asked Ada because her blog is such a wonderful departure from the personal style blog. She doesn’t run an Instagram or post Youtube videos. You won’t find her at fashion week or at the latest parties. Instead, one of the first things you’ll notice about Classiq is the elegant and nuanced writing, whether she’s reflecting on Max Mara’s recent runway homage to the oft-ignored “casual” styles of Marilyn Monroe or the helpful “Trends I Can Work With” posts, from suede to belted looks.

If you have a particular interest in the history of cinema, Classiq is also veritable archive of fashion and classical film: Hitchcock, Fassbinder, Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni. It’s truly as much a blog for the cinephile as it is for the fashion minded. As she tells me below, film is her main passion and her “Style in Film” posts are definitely some of the best on her blog. I can’t recommend her work enough. You can find Classiq here and our interview below. Enjoy!

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In her 2013 New York Times Magazine article, Suzy Menkes famously critiqued the fashion blogging world in her article, “The Circus of Fashion,” when she argued that fashion bloggers aren’t true critics and they are, in effect, turning fashion into a circus of branding, selfies and free clothes. Do you agree with her critique? What is the cultural role of the fashion blog today?

I agree. Judging fashion by what you are gifted or paid to wear is not fashion critique. That’s not even fashion blogging in my opinion and that is exactly why I don’t consider mine a fashion, but a style blog, or at least not a fashion blog in the sense it is largely perceived. There are of course fashion bloggers who count, who have articulate knowledge and write better than fashion journalists, and they can be considered cultural arbiters. But the bottom line is that fashion blogging, good and bad, has democratised the catwalks.

One of the things I admire most about your blog is the mix between the focus on style and the great writing (re: interviews, book reviews, fashion in film, etc). Did you start out with that plan or did it evolve? Why do you think it is important to include this kind of writing on a fashion blog?

Thank you. My blog has certainly evolved over the years. I didn’t have an exact plan when I started out, but I knew style and film would always be part of Classiq. But the biggest focus has always been on the quality of the content and if this does not evolve in time, then I don’t think there is any use in doing it at all. But I also didn’t want to follow any fashion blog recipe just because a certain format has proved successful for somebody else – that is not why I am blogging. I write about what I am passionate about, while trying to deliver original content or at least putting my own spin on a more common subject I may approach, and if someone else finds inspiration or something new to learn in that, then that’s wonderful.

What’s also interesting about your approach is that your image is largely absent (no photo shoots, no Instagram, etc). It feels much closer to journalism or art writing. Can you tell me more about your choice to leave your own personal image off the blog?

First of all, my decision of leaving my personal image off the blog (except for occasional posts and my profile photo) has to do with the fact that Classiq is not a personal style/ outfit blog, as I said before. Yes, the opinions I express on my blog are entirely my own and my blog reflects my own personal style, but my idea of writing about fashion and style has nothing to do with paid blog posts in which bloggers wear brand clothes. I like to have a stronger voice than the clothes I wear. Secondly, I am a private person and I value my personal life too much to show it off on social media.

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I’d love to hear more about the focus on film on your blog. Who are your favorite filmmakers? Do you have a background in film study? What drew you to writing about style in film? How does film influence fashion?

The truth is I love film more than fashion. It is a common passion of my husband’s and mine and we have developed it together in time. I don’t have a background in film study, but this doesn’t stop me from being passionate about it and absorbing everything I can put my hands on on the subject. I have watched thousands of movies (our films collection is probably the most cherished thing in our home) and read a lot about cinema, too. There are moments I don’t want to have anything to do with fashion, but this thought never occurs to me when it comes to film.

My favourite film makers include Alfred Hitchcock, Michelangelo Antonioni, Akira Kurosawa, Fritz Lang, François Truffaut, Billy Wilder, Nicholas Ray, Jean Renoir, Martin Scorsese. It was my joint interest in film and fashion that ultimately drew me to write about style in film. It felt like a natural fit and this is probably the kind of article I most enjoy writing about.

To answer the last part of your question, film has always had a great influence on fashion. It has that power, very far-reaching, especially when you think at earlier decades when the celebrity culture, the internet and bloggers did not exist, when the big screen was essential in launching new trends, more so than fashion magazines, when movie stars were mainly the ones considered style icons. There are so many films that inspired a fashion revolution, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Bonnie and Clyde, and Doctor Zhivago, to American Gigolo. In 1967, Time magazine observed: “What Julie Christie wears (in Doctor Zhivago) has more real impact on fashion than all of the clothes of the ten best-dressed women combined.” I think this statement is as relevant as it can be.

Do you consider fashion to be part of the history of art?

To a certain extent. We certainly cannot name art the work of every fashion designer. That said however, fashion can certainly be viewed as artistic interpretation, entailing a complex process of transposing ideas and instincts into something beyond the ordinary and the present.

For some, the aims of feminism don’t easily square with fashion. The argument is often made that fashion oppresses women (unattainable body type, turns women into objects, exploiting garment workers, etc.) and so cannot be redeemed as a political force. How do you approach this question?

First of all, I am against this trend of putting labels on everything and everyone, and seeing everything in black or white. Coco Chanel never identified herself as a feminist, despite the fact that her designs liberated women, thus becoming a symbol of female independence from 1910. I don’t think fashion is a big conspiracy to oppress women. I don’t buy things like “stiletto heels are symptomatic of oppression”. Fashion is part of the conversation, it is what you make it. It’s the result of collective choices that women make. What we wear is part of our self-expression.

Feminism, first and foremost, is defined as a political movement with distinct aims for equality between the sexes. Yes, maybe fashion should be expected to break ground on social change, especially that fashion today is an industry based around consumerism and a certain level of insecurity, and it can make people feel inadequate, raising questions of body image and racial diversity. But let’s not forget that fashion, first of all, registers what’s going on in the outside world. Fashion is often seen as enraging, but what I find more enraging is that lately feminism has become big business: Céline has featured author, activist and feminist icon Joan Didion in their SS 2015 multi-million dollar campaign. It’s more like one hand washes the other.

And there is one other thing. When an actress is paid to wear a designer dress on the red carpet and then protests when she is asked what she is wearing, demanding that she is asked more relevant questions, this is not feminist advocacy, it’s hypocrisy. And let’s be honest, you want to hear about a dress that you like on the red carpet just as much as about a more thoughtful issue or important project from the one wearing it, and there is usually a combination of these topics that is discussed, so why the big fuss?

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You have two different categories on your blog, one for style and for fashion. What is your philosophy on the difference between these things? What is style? What is fashion?

Style and fashion may be interlinked, but there is a clear difference between them. Style is very personal, it’s more about a natural instinct, about feeling good in your own skin and in your clothes. It doesn’t depend on fashion, it transcends fashions and stereotypes. Fashion has to do with creation, trendsetting, innovation, to make fashion is to bring to life creations that can indeed be defined as such. Fashion can be viewed as an expression of the times, the evolution of styles and trends that help define the history of costume and reflects social dynamics.

We just finished with the biggest fall runway shows of the year. Which was your favorite fall 2015 collection? Which trends are inspiring you? What are you excited to wear?

Unfortunately the entire Fall 2015 fashion month was more disappointing than it was exciting. I had two favourite collections, Dries Van Noten and Max Mara. I never pay too much attention to trends and, to be honest, now I am more enthusiastic about the arrival of spring and not having to put on layers of clothes anymore than about what I am going to wear in six months.

Tell me about your daily style. What are your “must-have” every day pieces? What do you wear for special occasions?

My daily style is classic, simple, relaxed. I feel my best when I’m wearing jeans, high heels and a shirt, or a t-shirt and blazer: a good balance between feminine and easy-going. But I do love to wear a dress and heels for special occasions.

What advice would you give to a young person (or perhaps, to your younger self) about style?  Don’t be afraid to experiment when it comes to your personal style (especially if you are in your early twenties). It can take a long time to pin down your style and it’s only natural that it will keep evolving over time. But once you have found one you feel perfectly at ease in, stick to it.

And finally, for the readers who are yet to meet you, where do you live and work? Where are you from? What do you have planned for Classiq in the next months?

I live in Bucharest, Romania. As for any special plans for Classiq in the near future, I don’t usually talk about my plans or underway projects, so I will just say that the main focus will be on continuing to deliver quality content on subjects of interest to me.

Thanks Ada! Photos courtesy of Classiq.