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Thursday, October 6, 2022

The most avant-garde ‘influencer’ of the moment creates parodies of fashion from one of the poorest islands in the world

His name is Shaheel Shermont Flair, he is 24 years old and wants to be an actor. Funny. “Public figure”, “artist”, he describes himself on social networks, where he shows his talents for comedy via videos / reels. On June 20, he shared his latest occurrence in them: the parody of a fashion show. “Fashion shows are like that,” he declared (emoticon with a little face crying with laughter), and he started walking with a clean hip like Linda, Naomi or Christy in a T-shirt and sports shorts through what looks like the patio of his house, barefoot , each ‘exit’ implementing the style with all sorts of knickknacks, junk, utensils and domestic furniture. In an unintentionally (or not) Rickowensian moment, he complements even his little sister, Riharika, accessorized to the side. On TikTok, where he has appeared as @ shermont22 for just over a year, the mini-film in question has accumulated more than five million views, and counting. Just like the number of his followers (close to 350,000, right now, 13 million or so ‘likes’), who don’t stop asking for more. Another, another! The most recent was uploaded a few hours ago, the ninth installment by popular acclamation of a viral saga that is not really so ironic and hilarious. For the purposes of fame and glory, by today’s standards, Shermont is already a star. In a recent story on his Instagram profile (@shermont_22, quite a few followers, although everything is supposed to work out), he confessed to having googled his name and not giving credit to the scope of the performance. “I’m in the news!” He gasps, showing screenshots from different digital media, especially from Southeast Asia. On Twitter he is hailed as the hero of the week for mocking, mocking and ridiculing fashion, of course, such a silly and increasingly absurd thing. The same thing happened just two months ago, when a video from the Douyin social network went viral in its western version (TikTok, that is) and gave rise to the challenge Turn your grandmother into an international supermodel: a venerable old Chinese woman, balenciaguized, gucciified and pradified alive by a little boy that we presuppose his grandson with what he has on hand in the yurt, hen included. The result, the logos of the brands superimposed on images in the style of any luxury advertising campaign, comes to say that Demna Gvasalia, Alessandro Michele or the Miuccia-Raf Simons tandem are all of us, or can be. Old woman dressed by her grandson with everyday objects to recreate a Balenciaga ad. The lament has been repeated for a long time: fashion, how bad it is. More than ever. Not only does it pollute the planet and exploit its workers, it also makes fun of consumers. Are these designers crazy? No, they are just kidding us with so much arbitrariness/ugliness/aesthetic stupidity. So it is time to give them back the grace, with a swinging jaw. Trolls like Shermont’s or those of the Chinese grandmothers (there are a few) can, in fact, show a certain social weariness about a three-ring circus, with its tamers, illusionists and clowns, whose extravagances are understood as nonsense and their more still difficult, insults or almost. The Vetements DHL uniform. Virgil Abloh’s Ikea bag. JW Anderson’s broken skateboard-encrusted sweater. Balenciaga’s shattered sneakers. All Balenciaga, the brand that comments invariably refer to the young comedian’s reel, although there are not a few who also extol his attitude and his stylish model trot and ask to see him already parading in Paris and Milan. And then there are those who claim to be funnier, sarcastic and ironic than the video itself (typical of the birding network). None, for that matter, that has repaired –or wanted to repair– in the background of what it shows. Shaheel Shermont Flair is a Fijian Indian, a descendant of those Girmit from India who came to British-colonized Fiji in the mid-19th century as slave labour. He is also gay. “Please welcome the queen to Instagram,” he urged in April 2021 when debuting on the social network. In November he posted: “My sexuality is not the problem, your intolerance is.” In April of this year, he returned to the fray: “There are those who hate me for being different and not living according to society’s standards, but deep down what they would like is to have my courage.” Before his phenomenal parade, he already did low cosplay of the women of his ethnic group throwing waste. Toilet paper for the sari, a bottle cap as nath on the nose and a maan tikka tea bag on the forehead, for example, the trousseau of any Indian bride in the humorous post entitled «Getting ready for my lover». In another he is seen dangling two water-filled balloons, bouncing breasts under his t-shirt: “Things I do for TikTok,” he writes. Yes, Shermont has made comedy his escape route from harassment and discrimination (double in his case), social networks as a highway to heaven. Just like Apichet Madaew Atirattana in his day. Thai Dovima turns everyday objects, branches and garbage into original outfits. Except for the glamorous intention, everything on the Shermont catwalk is reminiscent of the one he did the so-called Thai Dovima. It was 2016 and a teenager from the Isaan rice region, one of the poorest in Thailand, amazed the world before the unique tiktoker thought prevailed, turning everyday objects, branches and garbage into fabulous outfits, with which he was recorded parading through different locations in her village, her grandmother working as a styling assistant. Facebook and Instagram went wild with what was called a “tearing down of the barriers between gender identity, fashion and recycling.” Madaew (nom de guerre) explained herself then: “I want people to see that those ugly things that don’t fit can be transformed into something beautiful. And that dressing well is not a matter of money. Just a few months later, Asia’s Next Top Model, the South Asian edition of the American talent show, called him as a guest designer for the fourth season. The following year, Time magazine cited him in its list of new generational leaders. His example spread, because soon afterward, Suchanatda Kaewsanga, a countrywoman and openly transgender, and the Chinese Lu Kaigang, whose proposals for a parade through his town in the province of Guangxi included dresses made of garbage can lids and bags made with old air conditioners. Zero irony. Here is the response from poverty and marginalization to the global impact of fashion as a mass phenomenon attached to the culture of leisure/entertainment. A practice in which the button politics of Patrick Kelly, the first African-American designer to enter the ranks of the Paris Prêt-à-porter Syndicate Chamber in the mid-1980s, resonate as much as the clothing exercises of the swenkas (workers of Zulu origin) and Skhothans (image-obsessed post-Apartheid girl) of Johannesburg or the youth of Ghana who exploit the city-sized mega-textile dumps surrounding the capital, Accra, as quarries for their creativity. The narratives of those designers who mark the current course of the business, amplified as never before by digital media, also show them that, yes, it is possible to balenciaguize, guccify or pradafy without going through the checkout. That is why the Chinese supermodel grandmothers of TikTok mean aspiration rather than derision, proof that fashion has something for everyone, even the most socially disadvantaged (the proud hashtag that usually accompanies them, #chinastreetstyle, is not lost). That is why Apichet Madaew Atirattana, Suchanatda Kaewsanga and Li Kaigang have made a career as creators, bloggers or influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers, from zero to infinity propelled by the dreamy fuel provided by the town’s hairdressing magazines or via television. satelite. “It is very easy to charge against fashion for all the problems it generates, but I want to think that it is also capable of helping people in many ways, in a positive way,” says Minh-Ha T. Pham, professor of media studies at the Pratt Institute of New York and author of Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet (2016), an essay on the dynamics of race, gender and class among those young Asians who have found their identity expressions in fashion, forcing the system to recognize them finally as a socioeconomic and cultural force. Shaheel Shermont Flair laughs, but he walks because he also knows what fashion can do for him, who wants to be an actor. He continues reading What does the ‘mullet’ mean? The paradox of the dissident haircut that is now sweeping TikTok

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– Article Written By @Rafa Rodríguez from https://smoda.elpais.com/moda/actualidad/shaheel-shermont-flair-tiktok-el-influencer-mas-varguardista-del-momento-crea-parodias-de-la-moda-desde-de-una-de-las-islas-mas-pobres-del-mundo/

Nicole Aniston
Nicole loves to write and works as a corporate communications expert by day. She's been working in the field for quite some time now. Her training in media studies has provided her a wide perspective from which to tackle various issues. Public relations, corporate communications, travel, entrepreneurship, insurance, and finance are just few of the many topics she's interested in covering in her work.
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