Fashion Photo Exhibit 'Look at You, Boston!' Opens at City Hall
Back in 2008, Martini Severin set out to document the unique style she witnessed on the streets of Boston with her blog, Beyond Boston Chic. In just three years, the blog’s popularity has skyrocketed — so much that she landed her own photography exhibit at City Hall, which opened this week. We chatted with Severin about her inspiration, putting together her first exhibit, and the best places to go in Boston for a heaping dose of chic.
What inspired you to create a street fashion blog?
I’ve always had an interest in fashion. I remember growing up and seeing how wonderful my mom and my aunts looked when they dressed up. And when I got older and lived in France, my interest in fashion really elevated because I realized I couldn’t just walk out of the house in pajama pants. I spent more time on my appearance. Then when I came back to Boston, I just kept looking for something else — something that wasn’t just magazines. I thought, well, I’m going to take inspiration from Bostonians, and I decided to just start taking photos of people. It’s been a really wonderful way for me to get to know the people in this city and talk to them about why they’re wearing what they’re wearing.
How has Beyond Boston Chic evolved over the years?
In the beginning, I would ask people what they were wearing and list where they got each item. And now I don’t really think that’s what’s important. The fact that someone chose to put two different plaids together — that’s interesting to me. It’s less interesting that the top is from Marc Jacobs. It’s the composition that’s more important, because I think we’re living in a time when most people are cutting back financially, so I want the blog to be about inspiration and less about the clothes themselves. I think that style and fashion is something that’s accessible to everyone from all different socioeconomic backgrounds.
How would you describe the city’s sense of style?
Casual sophistication. We take the dictates that are coming from the fashion world, and we interpret it for Boston. People bring their sense of style to Boston in different ways because they have to adapt to the environment. So it becomes more about the coat, more about the accessories in the winter, than about what’s underneath. We’re really subtle in how we communicate our personality through what we are wearing.
What can we expect to see at your exhibit?
I showcase my favorite photos from the past three years, and those are photos primarily taken in Boston. The exhibit differs from the blog in that it’s a way to show a new audience my work, and also to remind them that we rock here! We may not be flamboyant in the way we dress, but for us, I think, it’s in the details.
If you could choose just one photograph for folks to go check out, which would it be?
The headliner photo. It’s taken in Cambridge on the T platform, and it’s of a young woman and her daughter. The little girl is wearing a striped white and black shirt and a tutu, and her mom is wearing boots and a flowy skirt. The little girl has her hand out as the train is coming and the wind is blowing her hair. I think it’s really beautiful, and it captures the casual sophistication of Boston style. It’s an unstudied style.
And where do you shop to achieve your own personal style?
I am an equal-opportunity shopper. I may go to the Garment District and see what they have, I may go to Newbury Street, I may go to the Closet, I may go to some of the shops in Harvard Square. I try to shop local as much as possible, and I try to make friends with shop owners. For example, the girls at Mint Julep are really wonderful. For unmentionables, I go to 40 Winks in Harvard Square. For hats, I like to go to Salmagundi in Jamaica Plain. There are some shops on Charles Street that are really wonderful — for gifts I always go to Koo de Kir. I love Flock in the South End.
What are the essential pieces every Bostonian should have for fall?
I always get cold, so I think a really funky scarf is in order. It’s a great transition piece. And a well-tailored jacket should be the staple of everyone’s wardrobe. There are a lot of stores and brands that are carrying beautiful jackets, and anywhere from Second Time Around to Brooks Brothers to J.Crew can have really wonderful jackets. We’re known to be preppy here, so why not play that up a bit? —Ashley Wood
See Martini’s photographs at City Hall through October 31, and check her out online at beyondbostonchic.com.