New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn doesnt have many friends left in the industry, it seems, after a series of scathing critiques about anyone who rubs her the wrong way. And these days, any which way is the wrong way.
The relationship between press and fashion designers is at an all-time strain thanks to the proliferation of celebrities and bloggers threatening to render the already endangered species of the critic completely extinct. Fashion is more democratic than ever and the middle man known as the fashion critic, the lens through which each collection and trend was originally refracted, has been replaced by the all-seeing, all-knowing internet.
There are only a few critics of any real import left: Tim Blanks, Robin Givhan, Suzy Menkes and of course Cathy Horyn.
Yesterday, revealing more than a hint of bitterness at not being invited to Hedi Slimane s Saint Laurent Paris debut stemming from an unflattering review she wrote about him in 2004, Horyn called Slimane disconnected and out of touch and expressed disappointment with the collection as a whole.
Oh, and this also happened:
When I raised the invitation matter with his boss, Francois-Henri Pinault, the chief executive of PPR, which owns Saint Laurent, Mr. Pinault expressed dismay. Thats ridiculous, he said. Journalists should be invited to shows. Quite so. But I suspected that Mr. Pinault was in a jam. Having given Mr. Slimane much authority to remake Saint Laurent, he could scarcely take it away from him.
She took it there. There being to Slimane's boss, who apparently didn't, couldn't or wouldn't help Horyn out.
The usually reserved Slimane responded with a critique of his own later that day, referring to Horyn as a schoolyard bully, a publicist in disguise and vowing that shell never get a seat at Saint Laurent Paris. This is the second dismissive letter directed to Horyn in as many months. After referring to Oscar de la Renta as a "hot dog" in her review of his spring collection, de la Renta responded by calling her a "stale 3-day old hamburger."
And that, kids, is called journalism.
Print is dying slow, protracted death and by picking all these unnecessarily personal fights, Horyn -- whether intentionally or not -- is making sure that her vitriolic voice is heard. Though make no bones about it, Cathy Horyn is not the only cantankerous critic stirring the pot.
Tom Ford was absolutely raked over the coals by Le Figaro journalist and noted homewrecker Virginie Mouzat, who sounded as if she was seconds away from dropping trou at Fords spring 2012 show and publicly taking a shit on him:
At the end of this inventory suited to Kim Kardashian, Tom Ford appears. He advances. And he remains there, in the central area, asking people to stand up. Perhaps [people would do so] out of distress, or sympathy, or because all of this is supposed to be festive after all. But everybody just looks at their feet. The music does not stop. Ford tries to speak above the noise, louder. We cant hear a thing. We just see this baby-faced man trying desperately to clear the air. He throw[s] himself upon his companion, Richard Buckley, and hugs him (Ralph Lauren often hugs his companion Ricky at the end of his shows, but then he returns backstage). But here everyone stays put. So Tom Ford retreats toward Anna Wintour and now its she whom he decides to embrace. Troubling.
Is it any wonder that designers, no matter how accustomed to critique, can hold a grudge?
While WWD claimed that Karl Lagerfeld would never banish longtime front-row types to the second row or disinvite those who had written ill of him, here are two words: Robin Givhan. After Givhan called Lagerfeld overrated in a Newsweek article, Lagerfeld literally banned the journalist from the front row at Chanel.
Then of course, there's the longstanding feud between Azzedine Alaïa and Anna Wintour. While Slimane and Horyn haven't spoken in eight years, Alaia and Wintour are going three decades strong with nary a word -- unless it's bitter -- between them.This is the kind of juice that fuels fashion and that bottle is clearly marked, "Haterade."