A Cat for Each Season
AGE 2, LOS ANGELES. PHOTO BY THE CATORIALIST
The gentle but dramatic lighting and re-touching that infuses each moment with a luxurious, effortless glow; the eye for key behind-the-scenes image-makers—Scott Schuman’s seminal street style blog, The Sartorialist, has got it. His project, along with those of others like Garance Dore and Tommy Ton, have introduced the world to that special portion of the population possessed of the ability to slow down the city and summon a seductive, casual elegance. Los Angeles-based photographer Max Krivitzky has only one question about the phenomenon of street style photography, implicit in the existence of his blog, The Catorialist. Why restrict this fascination with the glorious everyday to the human realm? We checked in with Krivitzky in the midst of New York Fashion Week:
INTERVIEW: How did you start the blog?
MAX KRIVITZKY: I have been photographing (cats, and other things) for several years, but I did not start my blog until mid-2008. I started taking pictures of cat street style because I wanted to share photos of felines that I saw on the streets of Los Angeles that I thought looked great. It began with a single cat in my neighborhood that had the best sense of self-grooming. This feline continued to impress me, so I asked her if I could photograph her. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the image but it quickly found a home on my new blog that evening. Caramel (her name) and several other cats in my neighborhood were my first subjects, and it is their fearless personal style which got the ball of yarn rolling. When I first started going to fashion presentations, I had a camera, but I looked more like an editor than a photographer. Many cats at the shows were intrigued by this fact and approached me to find out what I was doing, which really helped spread the word about my project.
INTERVIEW: How has the response been? Has it changed or grown?
MAX KRIVITZKY: Cats across the world, both inside and outside the feline fashion bubble, have been very supportive of the blog from the beginning. Their comments help shape the blog into a pertinent reference for those interested in the nuances of feline fashion. As readership increases, The Catorialist becomes an impromptu forum for ideas on personal style vs. feline fashion, as well as for concepts concerning context and relevance. Because I see these discussions as positive conversations, I am constantly striving to incorporate images from a diverse range of locations in an effort to document and develop the rich and universal language of feline fashion. Aside from empirical growth, I feel as if the blog has helped facilitate a greater understanding and appreciation for feline fashion.
INTERVIEW: How do you feel about the Sartorialist, and the sensibility he represents?
KRIVITZKY: Scott Schuman takes some nice photographs and he has a great way of presenting a range of details in an accessible way. That being said, I’m not sure if I fully understand non-feline fashion as it is presented on his blog. Often things seem ridiculous or masochistic and only recently this summer has The Sartorialist become a bit more playful. Refreshingly, I find almost all cats dressing only for themselves.
INTERVIEW: Do you read fashion street style blogs?
KRIVITZKY: I read a few here and there, usually from Japan or Korea where the influences are endless and personal style is more of a conversation. More interesting to me are publications on cat style that come from Japan. The photography does not interest me so much as the range of personal feline style that is completely non-existent in the West.
INTERVIEW: Do you photograph the cats yourself? Have you ever been scratched?
KRIVITZKY: Yes, I am the sole photographer. I have been scratched many times, usually testing a cat’s limits of contact, but I have never been scratched in the field while photographing. I approach my subjects with the utmost respect, taking as many precautions as I can to not intervene in any kind of intimate grooming session or quiet moment of meditation—although often these situations are the most photogenic! Photographing cat street style, although extremely rewarding and very fun, proves to be very difficult sometimes. Many of the most stylish cats I see on the streets would rather walk the other direction and pretend like I don’t exist. It has been a difficult journey learning how to navigate the shyness of most of my subjects but it is something that is worth waiting for. In other words, patience has been the key to my practice.
INTERVIEW: Do you like cats? We heard a rumor you don’t…
KRIVITZKY: I love cats. They are adventurous, curious, playful, and loving on their terms. I love dogs as well, but can any dog ever be as chic as a cat with a sophisticated fashion sense? I believe that even the mangiest alley cat oozes elegance.
INTERVIEW: What’s the most important part of satire?
KRIVITZKY: Satire is one way to discuss the absurdity of the world around us. But I’m not really sure what you’re getting at?
INTERVIEW: Where do you want the blog to go? What can cats learn from your blog?
KRIVITZKY: I hope that my blog will continue to grow and remain a valid source of inspiration for all cats. I don’t intend to alter the concept or format, but, as always, I hope to make more time to dedicate to The Catorialist and its many related (upcoming) projects. I will be traveling to Japan this fall to spend time photographing cats and learning about and documenting new voices and styles. One of the primary goals is to inspire others in their own personal cat style through showing the spectrum of the many brilliant approaches that I encounter on the street. If cats are to gain something from my blog I would hope felines would begin to understand that great cat style is not what you’re wearing, but how you wear it.