Being a good critic means having the fortitude to actually criticize something every once in a while, which many modern fashion writers seem loathe to do, possibly out of fear of offending designers and losing ad revenue or not being invited to shows anymore. Among the few fearless fashion critics still out there, Robin Givhan is the only one to have won a Pulitzer for fashion criticism. After New York Fashion Week wrapped, Givhan actually took the time to do an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, and the thread was predictably awesome.
We’ve excerpted the best highlights below. We’d recommend reading the whole thing (and everything Givhan has ever written), but here are the most insightful quotes about fashion from Pulitzer winner Robin Givhan’s AMA.
On American vs. European fashion:
There are many ways to “define” American fashion, but it is rooted in sportswear, less formality (when compared to Europe) and pragmatism. The clothes have to work. None of this means they have to be boring, uninspired or stodgy. one of the quintessential American designers is Michael Kors. his clothes are utterly wearable but they are also sexy and fun and aspirational — without being costumes. I think Marc Jacobs is a wholly American designer. He creates sportswear not riddles. He finds his inspiration far afield — in music, film, what have you — but I’d say he’s just as American as Kors.
On the role and training of a fashion critic:
I think the role of the critic is to assess the relationship between the clothes and the fantasy, to help make connections between fashion and the broader culture, and hopefully to be an outside voice that brings a kind of tough love and enthusiastic applause to the creative process of designers. And my advice for aspiring fashion critics would be to try to develop as broad a range of knowledge as possible, and not to focus solely on things like fashion history or fashion merchandising or fashion fashion fashion; I think the only way to really be able to help non-fashion people get a better understanding of the industry is when you maintain the ability of looking at fashion as an outsider.
On writing for newspapers vs. magazines:
The biggest difference is probably in the readership. When you write about fashion for a newspaper you’re writing for a general audience. I frankly love the opportunity of convincing a non-fashion person that fashion matters and can be substantial. The best compliment is when someone tells me they aren’t interested in fashion but they enjoy reading my work. At a glossy, you’re speaking to aficionados, a self-selected audience.
On diversity in fashion and when/if anything will ever change:
I think that the change won’t really take hold until the culture’s perception of fashion changes so that we think about fashion as something that has more of an impact on our lives than just what we put in our closets. I think for most people it’s hard to get riled up about which 18 year old girls get to walk down a runway, but if we think about the broader impact of fashion, and how it makes us value different kinds of people, we are more likely to be concerned and think about the runway as an important place.
On Rodarte’s disappointing Spring 2014 collection:
Hands down the most disappointing for me was Rodarte. the Mulleavy sisters are extremely talented and they’ve set a high bar for themselves. so this season when they put spangly bras on the runway, my reaction was basically: Oh Lordy. what the heck?
On the craziest thing she’s seen at NYFW:
The woman walking across Lincoln Center Plaza wearing a fox fur vest when it was 80+ degrees outside. This was followed by a woman wearing a wool coat outside of Ralph Lauren when it was about 80% humidity. But they attracted the street style photographers, so their job was a success!
On her personal style:
My job allows me to see the best that fashion has to offer. It’s taught me a lot about quality. It has made me wish that I have way more money than I do. I try to buy strategically. I buy less than I did when I first started the beat. And I never try to be a fashion plate. That’s just not my personality. It’s not in my budget. And I think it’s unbecoming of a journalist.
To a 30-year-old man who asked, ” In the morning I grab the clothes that smell cleanest out of the pile of “clean” clothes on my floor to wear that day … Would you say this is an acceptable way to approach fashion?”
No, my dear. This is not acceptable. You are better than that. You deserve more than reasonably clean clothes from a pile. Find your inner swagger. Hang up your clothes. Find your style. Go conquer the world.
Check out the rest of the awesomeness here.
Via Reddit/Photo: Getty