I've been thinking about Personal Shopper a lot since I saw it last month. The film, the latest from talented French director Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours, The Clouds of Sils Maria), is haunting in multiple senses. It's haunting not primarily because it is a ghost story (literally... the opening scene is a haunted house sequence more chilling than anything in the Paranormal Activity films).
When I was in New York City earlier this year, I took some pictures of a person lying on a couch on a sidewalk in the East Village. I wasn’t sure if he was a hipster or a homeless person. This question has come up numerous times in my hipster field research over the last couple years, and it’s definitely becoming harder to tell the difference. Apparently the homeless look is hotter than ever. Actually, I first noticed the trend a few years ago in L.A. and wrote a post on my blog entitled “Derelict Chic” back in 2007.
In my book I’m trying to locate “hip” in the context of metaphysics. How does the idea of being fashionable, cool, etc. correspond to our existence? We talk about it as a cultural construct all the time—and certainly this is important—but is it more elemental than that? Is the ephemeral in fashion and “cool” paralleled or derived from the ephemeral in our own very existence? In other words: is it a coincidence that 1) we all desire “cool,” 2) “cool” is necessarily an ever-changing, constantly cannibalizing phenomenon, and 3) we are all aware of death and the urgency of living?