Everyone’s a Fan

Originally posted February 17, 2010

I had to wait until Cathy Horyn of the New York Times posted her review of Marc Jacobs’ collection until I could piece together in my head just what it is about reviews of fashion shows that really irks the bejesus out of me.

I waited for Horyn because I knew she would not let me down and would feed me the ammunition I needed. And since I’m basically lazy times a million, she would do all the work of digging her own grave as a “critic” and instead show that she is, like the rest of us, a fan as well.

There is a big difference between a critic and a fan. I ought to know—I’m a fan. I don’t pretend to be a critic. I like what I like. I root for a particular team (Go, Yankees!), and I treat my opponents with respect when I secretly want to destroy them (tennis, anyone?).

These days, a fashion critic does the same thing—roots for her guys, barely recognizes the teams she doesn’t support and throws shade (and schadenfreude) when a designer shows a clunker collection.

I don’t know Cathy Horyn, but I admire her. I’m singling her out because she is the Roger Ebert of fashion—the one critic everyone knows whose opinion carries some weight. I tend to agree with most of what Horyn writes. She drops references that leave a philistine like moiscratching my head. Where I get tripped up is when she gives a free pass over and over and over again to the same people. Marc Jacobs, I mean you. Karl Lagerfeld, I’m looking in your direction, too.

The Marc Jacobs show in New York was quiet (code word for boring) and elegant (code word for boring)…and oddly, a little schmaltzy for my taste. Think Somewhere over the Rainbow and Dorothy ankle socks—yeesh. The long gray A-line skirts and tunics Horyn found so appealing left me a little cold, but I liked the fur and feathery shrugs, collars and hems even if I found all of the proportions a little dwarfing on those skinny models.

But everyone (and by everyone, I mean Cathy Horyn) wrote about the collection as if it were perfection. In the same review, she gave the Rodarte show two small unflattering paragraphs and didn’t even mention the greatest part of the show—the finale where they shut off the lights and turned on a blacklight so that all of the white pieces glowed like your teeth at a nightclub. It was awesome.

I, however, am a Rodarte fan, therefore I liked the collection. Cathy Horyn is a Marc Jacobs fan, ergo her favorable review. See the difference between criticism and fandom?

Now, I honestly don’t want it to seem like I am beefing with Horyn. My beef is with the concept of fashion criticism. Oh, and with the fact that the fashion world now takes even the opinions of a 13-year-old blogger seriously (watch for more on that). But I am a grown-up who has promised herself she will not pick on a child, so I can’t allow my evilness to go there…as much as it wants to (and oh man, does it want to).


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