Which brings us to Robin Givhan, who dared to question industry titan Karl Lagerfeld in a piece on the Daily Beast entitled, “Is Chanel Designer Karl Lagerfeld Spread Too Thin?” (In our opinion, if the Fall 2012 show is to be believed: absolutely yes) Lagerfeld responded by saying he’s never heard of Givhan, which is fucking preposterous. The woman won a damn Pulitzer for her fashion writing. As a critic, Givhan is capable of providing genuine insight into the fashion industry, along with Cathy Horyn and Bridget Foley.
Unfortunately, even fashion critics must play an occasionally delicate game–unlike movie critics who can simply buy a ticket, fashion critics are at least somewhat beholden to the industry that (urgently) needs them: Givhan’s frank criticism of Lagerfeld cost her a front row seat at the Chanel show this past week in Paris. If Lagerfeld can’t handle criticism, that’s embarrassing for him, but this is nothing new: Cathy Horyn was also famously banned from Armani for “sarcastic” remarks, writing, “The subject of banning journalists from fashion shows seems as quaint as the practice itself, neither a commendation to the industry nor a badge of honor to the critic. Indeed, fashion is the only creative field that attempts to bar the news media.”
Which reminds us: maybe you remember when Lady Gaga, filing a piece for V, made a complete ass of herself by suggesting Cathy Horyn didn’t know what she was talking about? Gaga tried to say that Horyn was hardened in her opinions and content to be acerbic, implying that she’d become irrelevant in a post-Tavi fashion industry. Although we think Tavi is great, she’s no Cathy Horyn.
We’re certainly not in a line of work to assume that all bloggers are incapable of good fashion criticism, but we are in a place to question the integrity of so-called style experts whose opinions are padded with expensive bags. Moreover, we’re shocked by the amount of people who read these blogs and don’t operate on the assumption that placement has been paid for (in some capacity).
Givhan told the Toronto Star last week that bloggers “are too cozy with the designers on whom they report,” adding that the work of a critic is much more than simply loving or hating a collection: “You’ve got to explain your thinking–how you got there. Criticism is not personal opinion. At its best it’s opinion based on a set of facts that are set in context. I’ve seen shows that I’ve loved but I knew that critically they were not great. And vice versa.”