New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn gets into trouble because she says stuff like this:
"Recently, however, it has become clear that Paris fashion is less the creative hub of the industry than an isolated universe whose weakness can be sensed even by children."
Her wrap-up review of the Men's collections in Paris takes the hard line, dissing designers for their "naive" and un-in touch collections. But, she gives little wiggle room, razzing others for their predictable, unremarkable rehashing of things boring and staid. Her commentary, via this article and her On The Runway blog, has caused a bit of a stir in the media. With people reiterating Horyn's tendency towards the barb and her lack of qualifications for a post as influential as she holds.
I, like any good fan of anything good, love to see brilliant minds clash over matters of fashion, and Cathy's piece of mind always seems to be clashing with someone else's. She's caught major flack from designers for her harsh commentary, even being banned from Armani and Vera Wang shows. In all honesty, sometimes I think she does go a tad too far, and her voice sounds so haughty it could school Upper East Siders weekending in the Hamptons, but I'm all for point counter point. I'm all for the wind coming out of the fashion sails every once in a while. Actually, it's hot air coming out of inflated heads in this industry. Horyn's lack of qualifications to some, make her an ideal voice of criticism to others. She's enough of an outsider to see fashion for the zoo that it can be if no one puts a thorn in its side every once in a while.
Sure, her skewering of Riccardo Tisci's collection for Givenchy comes off a bit heavy-handed, but her point that he's "utterly humorless as a designer" has some legs. Menswear is such a tricky vehicle of expression. Try as they might, designers pushing prints and bodycon cuts and skirts at the male species, are really pushing a little far. Women have so much more freedom of expression when it comes to dressing, and so the more ridiculous flounces of the industry's offerings become a bit more apparent to the outside world when it's men they're after. It's humorous to most to see what is being sold as the new men's look, and when it's done without a hint of irony, humor, or lightness, it can be a very awkward pill to swallow.
The Times is a newspaper, it's a venue for the average folk to find information and read about the goings on in the world. It is not the industry insider-geared Vogue, W, or Bazaar. It's a populist vehicle. The Times is more elite than most papers, but still, it's an outsider's informant. Horyn's opinions may be built more of personal preference than industry know-how, but there is enough of both to qualify her statements as the right fit for her paper post. No?
And the debate rolls on...