“To be honest, I don’t really know why it became a phenomenon,” says Michel Gaubert of his hugely popular Instagram account. “I think it started it in 2013, and I just remember my followers going up and up and up... I had 10,000 followers and then six months later I had 25,000 so I figured I was taking off.”
The distinctively bearded Frenchman responsible for providing the musical ambiance to countless fashion shows, from Chanel to JW Anderson, began his career as a DJ in the clubs of Paris circa 1980. He is now referred to as a sound artist – or ‘illustrator’, to be exact – and in 2011, the New York Times reported that Gaubert had amassed an archive of over 60,000 CDs, 20,000 vinyl records and 342,742 songs on his MacBook. Seven years on, one can only imagine how that collection has grown.
Indeed, Gaubert is an instinctual hoarder, and has approached his use of Instagram in the same manner. So far, he’s garnered almost 300,000 followers along the way. “I do have a lot of pictures,” he says. “I keep them on my iPhone which is a bit tricky because the iPhone is not so easy to use when you have a lot of files. So, I catalogue them into favourites, and revisit them often when finding something to post.”
Humour is one of the driving forces behind why so many hit the ‘follow’ button, and Gaubert is acutely aware of its power. “Well, I don’t know whether it’s because I don’t take myself so seriously but I think that nowadays everything is so corporate, serious, not fun. This is my way of seeing the world.” Even though he has uploaded over 26,000 images, he can pick out a favourite without hesitation. “Oh yes, there was one of Princess Diana going to Australia and checking out a lifeguard. He is wearing a bathing suit and she is just looking at him like ‘Why am I married to my husband?!’”
Besides a being a veritable LOL-a-minute, the appeal of his social media profile lies in fact that Gaubert is a member of the fashion elite. He rubs shoulders with everyone who’s anyone (including Karl Lagerfeld’s prized feline companion, Choupette), and this is readily documented on his feed. But, despite the musician’s stature, his posts also speak to a much wider audience – one that is au fait with democratic nature of a meme. His unpretentious use of Instagram reveals the human face of an industry often perceived as anything but. “I think my posts speak to people who like to follow fashion, but I don’t only post for people who go to fashion shows, that’s for sure. I also post for kids out there – it’s for everyone.”