Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Everybody has one....

Harper's Bazaar article submitted by: Allure

When it comes to style these days, everybody's a KNOW-IT-ALL. But do their opinions really matter?
By Robin Givhan.


"If you Google "fashion blog", you will get approximately 1.6 million hits. Click around for a couple minutes on kissmestace.com and you will uncover a plaintive shoutout to all red-carpet obsessives for help identifying a certain pair of shoes worn by Paris Hilton: "They're blush-tone, sturdy-heel pumps with a bow cutout on the vamp. Readers, do you recognize this shoe?"

I don't actually believe there are 1.6 million people interested in debating the aesthetic value of open-toe booties -see fashionista.com- but that extraordinary number indicates the popularity of a fairly recent phenomenon. An awful lot of people not only have an opinion about fashion, they also believe those opinions are worth broadcasting.


The rise of the fashion blogger was inevitable. Fashion has evolved from a autocratic business dominated by omnipotent designers into a democratic one in which everyone has access to stylish clothes, anyone can start a trend, and the definition of designer - Donald Trump!- has become astonishingly malleable.

In the beginning, there was haute couture for the financially well-endowed. The rest of us were doomed to sackcloth dresses whipped up by industrious home sewers. Then along came ready-to-wear, and rejoice! We could buy lovely pieces inspired by the couture geniuses. In time, ready-to-wear gave birth to fast fashion, which begat disposable fashion. Now it's possible to go into Target and buy a $29.99 designer frock along with a new litter box for Fifi. Designers still dictate trends, but they just as regularly come from the rough-and-tumble streets, Hollywood, and flea markets. Pop stars have become designers; designers have become TV stars. If folks can go online and view an entire runway show only hours after the event, why should they wait for some expert to tell them wether it was good? If fashion is available to everyone, why shouldn't everyone have an opinion?

Fashion has become like sports, with its own version of the Monday-morning quarterback. Mostly, all the chatter is good for the industry. The average person, too often estranged from fashion, is taking ownership of it. The Project Runway blogs are filled with reviews of the contestants' work and intense parsing of every botched seam. Thesartorialist.blogspot.com is an inspiring photo album of fashion do's captured on the street, the modern equivalent of the once offhand "Hey, nice dress."

And then there's bagsnob.com, an obssesive-compulsive's entertaining ode to the ultimate accessory: "If you took all [the worst] design-floor droppings...you would get this...The only bonus [is] it converts to a clutch. Great! Now you can have two hideous bags for the price of one." Call it unsolicited, fast, and dirty market research.

Bloggers are now welcomed at exclusive catwalk shows. About 40 were credentialed in New York last fall. Since I'm the fashion editor of The Washington Post, you'd think my initial reaction to the democratization of fashion criticism would be horror. How dare these self-proclaimed citizen journalists trespass on my turf? But no. I didn't protest. I launched my own show-season blog."

Find the author's blog at blog.washingtonpost.com/fashion

3 comments:

Shopalicious! said...

The "democratization" of fashion was inevitable, since it's already happened in other creative fields, like graphic design, interior design, etc. It was just a matter of time before fashion was let loose to the masses, and well it should! It will be interesting to see which blogs rise to the top to eventually compete with Vogue, and other preeminent fashion mags. I've got my votes on a couple...

roxana radu said...

so true, so very true and sad. but im sure this will be over soon. you have my respect for tellin it out loud.ive added it to my blog, hopping romanian audience will learn. slight chance but someone has to do it.

Gryphon said...

Interesting that Givhan's article ran in Harper's Bazaar. After boasting the most gifted editorial team and contributors around (Vreeland, Fraser, Loos) in the 90s the magazine became page after page of eerie celebrities. It lost its identity! But with this featured issue I feel like Harper's Bazaar is clued in to what's happening in the cultural zeitgeist for the first time in a long while.

That was completely irrelevant. Well, I don't think blogs will try competing with magazines anytime soon; after all, the editorials and layouts provide fodder for so many posts.