Thursday, December 10, 2009

Karl's Little Rule Book

There's fashion journalism and then there's fashion journalism. Cathy Horyn, Robin Givhan and Suzy Menkes fall into the latter camp. Amy Odell et al fall into the former. The problem with fashion becoming a "popular mass culture" thing, with the advent of shows such as America's Top Model, Project Runway, etc, means that fashion "journalists" such as Amy Odell have a job. This isn't fashion journalism- it's writing about celebrity culture (see: The Hills) disguised as fashion journalism. What disappoints me is that she writes for New York magazine, albeit in the online arm of it- New York magazine is where Tom Wolfe started writing a lot of "New Journalism"- quality writing. And of course, Mr. Wolfe can wear a white suit and still look incredibly chic and not look like a waiter.

We've known for a long time that the New York fashion blog has been the equivalent of a half-finished meal of McDonald's given to a homeless man who Scott Schuman then photographs.
What I mean is, there's no surprise with Ms. Odell's latest travesty of an article, with comments from Eccentric and Grumpy Old Woman Ann Slowey, who is convinced that my niece Tavi has a secret team of elves writing her posts. I kid you not- Tavi, of style rookie fame, has a secret team of elves writing her posts! She's got a whole room of them- if you stand outside it you can hear the click-clack of typewriters, and Tavi yelling "GET TO WORK CATHY HORYN! GET TO WORK WOODY ALLEN! THOSE JOKES DON'T WRITE THEMSELVES! GET TO WORK NABOKOV! I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE DEAD!".
To quote Ms. Slowey, "You look at her video, and the writing doesn’t sync up with the way she talks about fashion."
Why? Because Tavi has the magical writing elves in a room, clacking out her posts! Those magical writing elves, busily writing everything out! I hope they get paid enough, hm?

That solves that question. A video, which is a few minutes long, proves that Tavi has these magical elves writing for her! Ann Slowey said so! And she's a magazine editor- she even knows what a magazine editor does: "...How does that help me distill the collections? What am I supposed to be buying? That’s what an editor’s job at a magazine is."
According to Ann Slowey, Magazine Editor, an editor- nevermind Tavi is a writer, not an editor- is supposed to "distill the collections" and tell people what they should buy. Nevermind publishing interesting photographers and fantastic writing (a la New Yorker re writing, and even Vogue had an interesting article about Comme des Garcons- in the 80s). No, the editor of a magazine has to distill collections for the idiot consumer who can't do this themselves. They're too stupid! And then the editor has to tell them what to buy. The reader, who just spent money on your magazine is too stupid to make their own choices!
And on this subject, I'll quote Roger Ebert, the great film critic: "Advise the readers well. This does not involve informing them, "You'll love this!" If I approached some guy in a restaurant and told him what he would love, I might get a breadbasket in the face. No, we must tell the readers what we ourselves love or hate. If we work for employers who think we should "like more movies like ordinary people like," we should make a donation in his name to the Anti-Cruelty Society."

Hmm. You mean that the reader of your magazine isn't stupid?! Whatever next. Maybe if you started taking this viewpoint, people would start reading writing in magazines again- especially fashion magazines, and not simply skip to pictures of the pretty models (to post them on their tumblr.)

Odell writes "It would be easy for people like us to feel a little insulted by magazines hiring 13-year-olds to do the job of a serious fashion critic, a person with years of experience who has probably toiled for newspapers to print their words or even care about what they have to say"
There's several problems here- Odell isn't a serious fashion critic, for example. Cathy Horyn, despite her love of bacon is. Odell writes a celebrity fashion blog, with emphasis of the "celebrity". Horyn writes sometimes scathing reviews, but always insightful- always placing things in context, always considering that the clothes are more than simply pretty frocks. Tavi's doing a fine job as a serious fashion critic, comparing dresses at Calvin Klein to being stained with tears. Just because she's thirteen years old- as Odell never fails to point out, doesn't invalidate what she writes.

Throughout the piece it's both said and implied that Tavi gives fashion advice. It's perhaps to grasp for some people that Tavi is in fact not doing what the fashion industry's been doing for years- telling people what to wear. This is obviously a very difficult concept for Ms. Slowley. I suspect she hasn't read Tavi's blog. Even the title implies that Tavi is giving fashion advice- "Editors Like Tavi But Don't Take Her Fashion Advice Seriously". Nevermind that Tavi doesn't give fashion advice- her blog is not kind of "ASK AUNT OHIO!" enterprise.

Yet as my niece Belle was saying to me earlier- this is typical New York Fashion Blog- the sort of publication that sees fit to devote an entire article to the relationship of my daughter (Jane) and her boyfriend (Amit). Because that's as important as Lacroix going bankrupt, of course.

This post isn't simply about the post about Tavi, or even about "The Cut". It's about the decline of fashion journalism. Long actual fashion critics such as Tavi and Horyn. Long live bacon muffins. But nevermind the "bollocks" (as the kids say)- the faux fashion journalists who attempt to pass themselves off as something more. They're demode.


Anonymous said...

Tavi could doubtless do Odell's job so much better than Odell herself. Even if she is 'only thirteen'; being older and more experienced just makes Odell's crap especially disappointing.

Great article Karl.

Bluefemme said...

When it becomes a job there is no creativity.

enna. said...

Posts like these are why I read this blog. Good show, sir.

FabBlab said...

I just did a post about it, as well. Karl: amen.

Pashupati said...


so clever said...

Quelle idiot! Tavi is a lapdog, not comparable to Horyn or Woody Allen! Please! And learn grammer and puncutation before droning on about fashion journalism!

Karl Lagerfeld said...

"so clever", the problem with you attempting to make a point about grammar and punctuation is that you spelt "grammar" wrong. It kills your already weak argument, hm?

Anonymous said...

in search of the tavi article, i found this:

looks like you might've hurt mr. kane's feelings! ;D

Pashupati said...

Vouliez-vous dire « QUEL IDIOT ! », « QUELLE IDIOTIE ! » ou « QUELLE IDIOTE ! » ? C'est une faute de frappe ou vous avez vraiment réussi à faire une erreur de grammaire digne d'un élève de CE1 ?
Bref, vous passez pour un con.

Hell, you suck at french, isn't it?
It would be even funnier if you actually were french. La honte !

Take that, next time:


Kolsoum Amirbandeh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
elisa fernanda said...

you don´t sound like karl anymore, although you´re right.

Karl Lagerfeld said...

I think I know what I sound like, hm?

Anonymous said...

Great post Karl! Some excellent points and a good defence of Tavi. She's a great blogger, really well informed, funny and knowledgeable. I think the begrudgers need to shut up!

Britte said...

Thank you for addressing this Uncle Karl. The article has been bothering me incredibly.

the StReeT chanteuse said...

"Long live bacon muffins."
that is all.

Anonymous said...

Without these Fashion Bloggers, I think I'll still be dressing up like a dull looking fattie who stays in bed and eat dark chocolate all day long

Isabel said...

It's ELLE, of course the readers are stupid.

Admin said...

It's amazing.

ada v. said...

What Tavi has-and has been expressed at this age,luckily-is called "talent".And talent is something you were born with.You can't create it,you can't force it,and certainly you can't fake it.Is this so hard to understand Mrs.Odell and Mrs.Slowey?If you feel insecure or even inadequate for what you do,it's best to talk to a therapist.Not offend people.