Park City, Utah: the wooden cultural oasis deep in the plains of the Western United States. The shimmering, nippy air harnesses a magical quality as it envelops this factory of venerated filmmakers. Making it here is the first big step on an indie film’s long road to success. People go to great lengths to take part in the Sundance Film Festival every year, often traveling thousands of miles and sacrificing entireties of life-savings to produce their interpretation of cinematic gold. The goal? To get it picked up by a major production company and shown to the rest of the world.
For the youthful inhabitants of the Salt Lake Valley, however, Park City fulfills the innate human need to crowd celebrities, aggressively photograph pretty people, and impersonate the rich and famous for a glorious ten days every January.
Naturally, Kelsie and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to flee to the beautiful Utah mountainscape* and feast our eyes upon they type of street-style that just doesn’t exist in our natural habitats. Dressed to the nines and camera-ready, we made the forty-minute trek up the canyon early Saturday morning with the giddiness of a boy just before his 6thbirthday.
Kelsie had on a beautiful green puffer-coat with a fur-lined hood. One layer down was a short sleeve sweater with a bejeweled neckline and under that a railroad-striped denim button-up. Her oxblood motorcycle jeans topped (or I guess bottomed) off her outfit, and her wavy hair was pinned in an adorable ponytail. I was wearing my infamous paint-pants with a mustard-yellow oxford shirt. My finishing touches were a dark-brown tie-turned-ascot and a heavy brown coat.
Now, before I go any further I just want to clarify that enjoying the fruits of others’ gilded creativity was in no way on our agenda for the weekend—we made the trip to Park City knowing fully well that we would not be watching any films. We are absolutely not ashamed by this. We yearned to see what Lena Dunham described on her twitter as “bazonkers snow fashion”** and that is that.
Rolling into the resort town had excitement bursting from our seams. What decadent furs would cross our paths? Would the rich coloring blind us or uplift our spirits? How many times would tears be shed as sartorial inspiration bombarded us?
The neon-blue sky promised us a day of utter delight as the crisp air captured the perfect degree of chill. To avoid paying for parking (a form of torture crueler than waterboarding for poor college students like us) we parked Kelsie’s splendidly dinky sedan in the parking lot of a strip mall a few blocks from the head of Sundance excitement. In a matter of minutes we would be strutting down Main Street, snapping pics of the well dressed and feasting on the decadent fashions of famous faces.
Arriving on Main Street, we immediately sought an adequate stakeout between two brightly painted buildings and set up base (which for us means pulling out my DSLR and setting down our box of Goldfish to munch on between takes). Peeking through the viewfinder had us buzzing.
Minutes passed and we saw nothing. A handful of fur caps graced our presence, but so far our excursion left us bone-dry.
“So, are we even going to use this camera today?” Kelsie inquired, breaking the awkward silence our depravity left us in.
“Everyone is just busy right now,” I assured. “Once they’re done with whatever movies they’re seeing they’ll pour out! JUST YOU WAIT.”
“Let’s get a move on. We aren’t gonna catch anything waiting around back here.”
So we set out down the street, my eye glued to the camera and my finger resting neatly on the shutter ready to attack. Before we could process it, we hit the bottom of the street with nothing to show for it. “There’s a lot of dudes in Patagonia coats,” I said, pointing out the obvious. “Maybe we could make this post about that!”
“Nobody cares about Patagonia coats, dude,” Kelsie affirmed. Not wanting to cause a ruckus—I was raised in a family of hardcore Patagonia fans and am prepared to defend the brand to the death—I accepted her assertion and moved on.
“I’m seriously not seeing anything, Add. Maybe we should just head ba—“
“LOOK, KELS! LOOK AT THOSE GIRLS!”
I spotted a gaggle of straight-haired fashion girls clad in cozy fur hats, fuzzy coats, and skinny jeans. Their effortlessly assembled outfits of luxury fabrics meant we had struck gold.
I clenched my camera in my hand as Kelsie fumbled to secure our Goldfish in her shiny green coat. We ran as fast as we could toward the flock, weaving through the swarm of plainly dressed intellectuals, until we reached the spot of their sighting.
We hastily scanned the surrounding crowd with our hearts beating fast from our sudden jolt of cardiovascular exercise. No fur to be found; the girls were gone.
“Damn it, Kelsie.” We were heartbroken and out of breath. “WHY IS THIS SUCH A HASSLE?”
“Because, Add. This is Sundance.” We were still fighting for air. “What were we even expecting?”
Just then, those girls with their perfectly smooth faces emerged from the boutique we were leaning on to catch our breath, giggling and gossiping about their lives at home. From up close their ensembles were far less impressive. Expensive fabrics, yes, but their unity of beige furs and denim was definitely not the kind of “bazonkers” we were looking for. Out of obligation, I raised the camera to my eye, but before I could snap the picture Kelsie stopped me by grabbing my hand. “Not worth it.” After a deep breath she continued, “We can’t celebrate that. It’s nice, but boy is it boring.”
I looked back up to the girls. Their heeled riding boots clacked on the cement as they slowly walked away.
After taking a couple of snapshots of passers-by, we began walking back to our car. Once there, Kelsie asked a simple yet completely fulfilling question. “Nachos?”
“Nachos.” I echoed. She started the car and we set off to the nearest Mexican Restaurant.
Kelsie and I may have been the best-dressed people we saw that day, but with our A+ outfits and a tummy full of cheezed-up tortilla chips, guac, and sweet-pork we were happy.
* * *
For the record, street-style photography is absolutely terrifying. A lot of respect has been gained for the art form :’) . Here are our sad first attempts at capturing it:
* A word that my computer insists doesn’t exist. I SAY SCREW THAT IT IS A GREAT WORD.
** I also must make note that this phrase was used in the context of mild disappointment in notseeing the bazonkers snow fashion. We should have done our research before heading out…