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MADRID, SPAIN?DRESSING up to meet The Sartorialist is like getting ready for a first date. You want to look impeccable to make a good first impression, but you also don?t want to seem like you tried way too hard?like you kidnapped Lady Gaga and took off with her clothes. On a bicycle.

I decide to go with something tried and classic?black high heel leather boots, my best jeans, tailored jacket, vintage Herms scarf, my mother?s antique ivory bracelet, and my Canon SLR camera ?casually? slung over my shoulders.

Then I get to the press conference and notice everyone?s dressed like they were all going on a first date, too. With God.

I soon espy a woman wearing the most lust-worthy black and white printed platform brogues. Must not covet thy neighbor?s awesome goods, I tell myself. Though no one admits it out loud, I?m pretty sure almost everyone present has entertained the thought that maybe, just maybe, the celebrated coolhunting photographer might just pluck you out from the crowd for a snapshot, upload you on his famous blog, and immortalize you in the fashion radar.

For the moment, though, the great arbiter of style finds himself on the other side of the camera lens, as the subject of scrutiny by the stylish Spanish media. This is his first time to visit Spain, to promote his book, ?The Sartorialist,? a collection of his favorite photographs through the years.

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Dressed elegantly in a crisp suit, The Sartorialist looks like a modern day Cary Grant. A rather pint-sized one at that, as he barely stands at 5?5. Then again, you hardly dwell on that, as he simply towers above the rest with such panache.

With a moniker that sounds like a comic book superhero, Scott Schuman could very well be street fashion?s savior. His extremely popular blog, thesartorialist.blogspot.com, visually chronicles the extraordinary style of ordinary people on the street. His blog soon caught the eye of the big fashion magazines like Vogue and GQ, as well as top labels and designers, who eventually looked to him for inspirations on fashion spreads and new collections.

Today, The Sartorialist is a cult hit and pop culture phenomenon, with an average of 225,000 visitors a day, and is one of Time Magazine?s Top 100 Design Influencers.

It was an unforeseen reversal for an industry known for favoring perfection, wealth and anorexic body proportions. Now, the streets are influencing the runways, with real people replacing models as fashion icons.

That ?realness? takes on multiple dimensions in Scott?s blog, where he captures what he calls ?cool-looking people? of all types?young, old, thin, fat, Caucasian, colored, gay, straight, famous or unknown, rich or poor?in a signature, romantically modern street setting.

The specifics of fashion, brand names and labels had become vocabulary in a higher dialogue about the nature of style, and every individual?s right to it.

?Even if the core of the blog is fashion and style, I don?t really think about that when I look at these pictures,? shares Scott. ?When I see someone that piques my interest, I don?t really judge whether I think what they?re wearing is perfect in this way or that way.?

He cites a photograph during his recent trip to San Francisco, a black and white shot of an African-American driver.

?Nothing that he was wearing was fashionable, and nothing particularly stylish, but he had such a charisma and elegance that was communicated through his clothing. It wasn?t about the fashion itself but the fact that he had time to shine his shoes, and take care of his jacket buttons. To me that was totally charming. That really spoke about how he was as a human, how fastidious he was about everything, how he takes his job seriously. That romance is what I hoped to explain in that picture. I hoped people would notice his elegance, even though he had a job that most people wouldn?t think of as elegant.?

Hobby

Scott started the blog as a hobby in 2005, after quitting a 15-year stint in fashion to take care of his young daughter. He started photographing people he found interesting on the streets of New York. He still claims to love going to fashion shows, but at the same time found a disparity with high fashion and what people wore on the streets.

?So much about fashion is about the perception of fashion,? he adds. ?So it?s about these big personalities with the newest, most expensive stuff. To me that?s totally unimportant. To me it?s much more charming to find a young guy finding his way with his style and where he fits in, who?s still somewhat confused about his style. There?s something charming about that.?

What is one place in the world where you would love to shoot?

Any place that I don?t know makes me want to discover it. Spain is one of them, and now I have the chance to do that by shooting in Madrid and Barcelona.

Is there one fashion piece that you don?t like, and convinced that nobody will look good in them?

No, I believe everything can work with a person who carries it well.

What is it about your blog that makes it so popular?

Well, you know a big part of the blog is the honesty, the integrity of what I do, and I think people really pick up on that. People appreciate that, it?s something influential because of such honesty.

If you could choose one person to take your own photo, who would it be?

Garance Dor, my girlfriend.

Are most people you approach on the street willing to be photographed? How do you convince the ones who are not too keen on being photographed?

I simply approach them and tell them who I am and what I do, and why I would like to take their photograph. I think I?ve gotten good at seeing who?ll let me take their picture. If they?re walking really fast, they look like they?re in a hurry so I probably won?t stop them. And if a person looks interesting but also crazy?I won?t approach them, I don?t need to have any crazy people attack me!

What I say to them (when I approach them) is much less important than the intangible way of how I approach them. There?s something you can?t replace when you?re honestly fascinated by the way he looks and want to take their picture. It comes across my face. I?m not a big scary guy, I?m usually dressed reasonably stylishly.

The first thing they do is look at me and go (gestures head to toe look), oh ok, you look like you know what you?re talking about. And I know what I?m doing, as I?m walking, before I stop them, I?m adjusting the dials (of the camera), I?m figuring out where they?re going, and where I want to stand so that doesn?t take too long to do. And I try to create some kind of small interaction in a small way. I?m not a people person. It?s odd, I take pictures of people all the time but I?m not a people person. I take pictures pretty quick.

Have you ever gotten attached to a particular subject and shot that person over and over again?

No, my pictures are more spontaneous then premeditated, but of course if there is someone I like, I can photograph them in various occasions.

What makes anonymity stylish?

I suppose every person who?s anonymous or not has their own style. It?s more a question of an innate attitude in every person, whether he?s known or unknown.

Do you see yourself as a fashion icon? From being behind the lens, you are now the subject. Did this make you uncomfortable in the beginning?

Not really, I also enjoy being photographed, especially when a photo genuinely reflects my personality.

You once mentioned ?the quiet dignity? of ordinary people as an inspiration for your work. Could you elaborate on this?

Every person can be a font of inspiration for my work, how they move while they?re riding on a bicycle, how they wear a jacket. For me, everyone tells a story.

Why is fashion and style so important to a city? What about the city influencing personal style?

Because personal style can reflect the style of a city.