February 07, 2006

The Fashion Triumvirate

Well this sure sounds like a cartel in need of regulating:
In the fashion world, there are only three influential critics (of those writing in English): Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune, Cathy Horyn of the New York Times, and Bridget Foley of Women's Wear Daily. While other major newspapers cover fashion in a service-oriented way—that is, they suggest what to buy—the writers are not critiquing fashion as they might film or books.
I'm not sure I buy this, though. In the Style section of yesterday's New York Times, I was reading Horyn's "Finally, Girl Designers Who Want to Have Fun," where our oligarch approved of the fact that fashion designers are finally letting their hair down and making their clothes fun. (I know, right?) One useful trick, we learn, is to take a "Peter Pan collar" or a "sack dress" and "subverting them just enough so that they don't seem goody." That seems like sound advice. And I would call this "critiquing fashion," sure, sure.

But then in the next column over we have Eric Wilson's "American Style is Coming Back, but Will Men Pay the Price?," which also seems to critique fashion "as one might a film or book": "His jeans with a low waist, baggy crotch and long, tight legs — already the silhouette of the season, ripped from the body of Pete Doherty, the troubled English rocker — were made palatable in finer fabrics with the texture of oilcloth." I don't see what Wilson's not doing here that Horyn, apparently, is. Why does she make the triumvirate but not him? Maybe he's an oligarch in training? It's all very mysterious.
-- Brad Plumer 8:51 PM || ||