It was back in 2014 when Margaret Zhang – one of my favourite blogger – mentioned she would take part in Fashion Bloggers, a series about blogging along with four other Australian bloggers. Margaret, 21 at the time, represented the epitome of the multihyphenate creative. A fantastic photographer with a gift for writing, the young woman also mastered styling and art direction – all the while studying law at the University of Sydney. To me, Margaret was and still is the epitome of the hard worker in an industry that people consider too often frivolous. Shine By Three, the blog she founded at 16, is the platform that gave her the opportunity to be where she is today.
Though my admiration for her convinced me to watch the show, I was also utterly curious about the behind-the-scenes of being a blogger.
Apart from Margaret Zhang, the casting of the series included model turned photographer Zanita Whittington, former painter Amanda Shadforth, journalist Kate Waterhouse and digital maven Sara Donaldson. Five women with very different styles and ways to approach blogging. The reality documentary spanning on eight episodes opened on one particular theme with the bloggers giving their definition of it. The show was entertaining because it focused on how each girl – albeit all being fashion bloggers – collaborated with brands. It wasn’t about posting a sponsored outfit on their blog or social media. While Margaret was a guest buyer for MatchesFashion.com at NYFW, Samantha didn’t come along and stayed in Australia because of some big secret project she was working on. On the other hand, Sara collaborated with Tony Bianco – one of the most famous Australian designers – on a shoe collection while Kate hosted a bridal event. As for Zanita, she was always with her camera shooting for brands throughout the series.
I don’t know if the gods had it against Zanita, but I appreciated seeing how the E! team didn’t edit her struggles with a sick model and lousy weather. Instead, they made use of them to reveal how creatives need to be on check with mishaps and stay focused to produce work.
Fast forward to 2017, and I am still passionate about blogging and a new breed of internet mavens: the influencers. When I saw Eleonora Carisi – the blogger behind Joujouvilleroy, one of the most prominent Italian blog – taking part in a reality TV show about influencers I was ready to watch. I wanted to understand what an influencer was and see how this phenomenon was in Italy. I lived in Bologna for five years, and when I left the country, Chiara Ferragni was the only blogger who had the status of an influencer even before the word entered the blogging glossary. Now in 2017, I find myself watching Eleonora Carisi, former model and Instagram star Candela Pelizza and former architect and actor Paolo Stella sharing their life not on a grid but in motion in a show called The Influencer.
I couldn’t help but have a smile when the program started. It opened with the voice of a female narrator saying: ‘On social media, they are real stars, they have the power to influence tastes, create fashion and define the last trends. But above all, they make their followers dream about their extraordinary lives.’ As soon as she finished speaking, Paolo, Candela and Eleonora appeared posing in front of an army of photographers. Though I found the beginning very dramatic, their honesty surprised me. Even before describing what an influencer was, they all mentioned how privileged they were to live the life they were living. Travelling the world, being invited to fashion shows, getting gifts and being able to have brands lending them beautiful clothes – they were well aware their lives weren’t ordinary. Paolo Stella even went a step further telling ‘we are followed like rock stars rightly because we aren’t.’ expressing their strength consisted in getting their followers to believe they could live their life.Contrarily to Fashion Bloggers, they were fewer moments where the viewers were taken behind-the-scenes. But if this part is lacking, they were all willing to explain precisely their role as brand ambassadors and what was their job. The other thing I found was a pity was not describing how Grumble – Paolo and Eleonora creative agency – was the fruit of the knowledge they acquired as influencers.
Fashion Bloggers and The Influencer were both great programs to discover the behind-the-scenes of the blogging industry. I think both showed how blogging differed from a continent to another. If in Australia, the girls seemed to be more focused on honing and always refining their multiple skills; it was another story for Italy. Albeit being a smart trio to have achieved what they achieved, there was clearly an element of glamour that sometimes put a shade on Paolo, Eleonora and Candela skills. Most of the show centered on Milan Fashion Week and parties they attended. Nevertheless, I applaud their frankness again as they talked openly about relationships and networking in the industry. Something I didn’t see in the Australian show when fashion is all about relationships. While with Fashion Bloggers I felt I could apply what I saw immediately because of the way it was filmed, it wasn’t necessarily the case with The Influencer where I thought it was more explanatory rather than didactic.