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April 20 2014

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10 posts tagged "Kerry Washington"

Are Celebrities the New Fashion Critics? No, Not Really

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86th Annual Academy Awards - Red Carpet

Unfortunately, The Hills‘ opinionated but not terribly enlightened Kristin Cavallari launches her new fashion show, The Fabulist, on E! tonight. This morning, Fashionista tapped into an interesting conversation: What on earth gives celebrities such as Cavallari the gall to knight themselves fashion experts? The story’s headline asked, “Are Celebrities the New Fashion Critics?” And while the article went on to defend reputable, old-school journalists, like Style.com’s own Tim Blanks, it seemed to imply that the public may be inclined to turn to celebrities as their go-to fashion reviewers rather than, well, actual critics.

Celebrities’ fashion thoughts are often (but, of course, not always) molded by their skilled stylists and sponsors. And while Fashionista did not suggest that stars are the educated voice of fashion reason, it did refer to them as fashion critics. This caused me to raise an eyebrow, and it leads us to the question: What is a fashion critic? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe a fashion critic is an informed, hopefully unbiased individual who can discuss a collection’s or garment’s merits and/or downfalls in both a broader fashion context and, more important, a broader cultural context. It takes a certain knowledge base to do that.

During a 2010 interview with Style.com’s editor in chief Dirk Standen, Cathy Horyn noted, “Right now we have a lot of people who are coming at [fashion journalism] from left field, and they can have some really wonderful insights into fashion and they can see it from their generation, which is fantastic…But then there’s also just the question of the knowledge about it, the span of time, so you can make judgments and conclusions that reflect the sense of history.” I hardly think that Kerry Washington can do that while judging Project Runway. Kelly Osbourne certainly doesn’t do it on Fashion Police, and even the savvy Rihanna doesn’t bring that kind of expertise to the table on her show, Styled to Rock. Celebrities’ commentary about the sartorial coups or disasters we see on the red carpet or reality TV are indeed entertaining, but criticism isn’t merely about cutting takedowns and gushing praise—it’s about the bigger picture.

“Traditional criticism set standards, so traditional critics wielded enormous amounts of power,” Tim Blanks once told me. “But the role of fashion criticism now is to express an opinion as lucidly, as graphically, and as entertainingly as you can.”

Stars are undoubtedly fashion influencers—just look at how Rihanna’s choice to wear Melitta Baumeister and Hyein Seo in Paris raised the up-and-comers’ profiles. But critics? Hardly. Now, I’m not saying that celebrity, or general, opinions are invalid or unimportant. I’m just saying that they’re not criticism. There is room for all sorts of musings—and all are welcome. The viewpoints of celebrities, consumers, style obsessives, critics, and beyond all work together to create a narrative, however, looking back thirty years from now, Cavallari’s comment during E!’s Oscars preshow that “Lupita has been killing it this season” won’t really tell us anything.

Will the general public gravitate toward celebrities rather than journalists for criticism? Sure, they’ll tune in to TV shows and celeb Twitter accounts to be amused (it is funny watching Joan Rivers rip apart red-carpet looks), but if they want the facts, they’ll come to the critics. As Vanessa Friedman told me in an interview last week, “There will always be a need for some sort of analysis and an informed opinion, and despite all the white noise and opinions we see on social media, people still want real information and facts.” I have to believe that this hunger for knowledge isn’t in spite of fashion’s increasing presence and importance in popular and celebrity culture, it’s because of it.

We need to be careful how we throw around the phrase “fashion critic.” Let’s not do to it what fashion writing has done to “iconic” or “chic”—that is to say, make it meaningless. Because what critics write does have meaning, and purpose, and I’d like to keep it that way.

Photo: Getty Images

Runway to Red Carpet: Pre-Oscar Fetes and a Well-Heeled Actress-Turned-Entrepreneur

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LupitaAs the Oscar countdown draws to a close, the celebrity set kept busy this week with a multitude of parties, premieres, and the final award show leading up to the season’s main event. For Saturday’s NAACP Image Awards in Hollywood, Lupita Nyong’o chose a plunging earth-toned Givenchy dress, a red-carpet first for her, from the Pre-Fall ’14 lineup. Nyong’o added another trophy to her growing collection that evening, taking home the statue for Outstanding Supporting Actress. A radiant Kerry Washington accepted several awards, including Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for her role on Scandal, in a custom navy and peach silk Thakoon gown.

On Tuesday, Naomi Watts hosted Bulgari’s pre-Oscar fete that brought out stars such as Kate Hudson, Olivia Munn, and Dianna Agron to celebrate “Decades of Glamour” in Hollywood. Watts chose a look fresh off the Fall ’14 runway: Altuzarra’s black column with magenta and orange accents.

The famously well-heeled Sarah Jessica Parker turned her love of footwear into more than a hobby when she launched her namesake SJP Collection this week. On Wednesday, the actress feted the opening of her Nordstrom pop-up shop in New York, stepping out in a pale pink Valentino frock hemmed with black lace, paired with green sandals from her own collection, which launches today.

Here, more of this week’s red-carpet highlights.

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

Scandal At Saks Fifth Avenue

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Kerry WashingtonYesterday evening, Saks Fifth Avenue threw a party celebrating the third season of the hit show Scandal and also unveiled window displays modeled after Kerry Washington’s character, Olivia Pope. Apparently the actress and Scandal‘s costume designer, Lyn Paolo, were up late Tuesday night adding some finishing touches to the windows. “My flight landed in New York at 1 a.m., and I hopped in the car and told my driver, ‘Take me to Saks!’” Washington told Style.com. “It’s closed,’ he told me, and I said, ‘I know, but we need to go there right now!’ We were running all over Fifth Avenue comparing our window to other windows.” Although they admitted the Saks visuals team was phenomenal, both Washington and Paolo said they just had a much more particular vision of how Pope dresses, hence the middle-of-the-night switcheroo.

It was an anecdote that the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, found particularly humorous, although she confessed that she’s not quite as type A as Washington and Paolo when it comes to fashion sense. “I’m a person who would be wearing pajamas every day if you let me. I knew when we were doing Washington, D.C., that I wanted to make [the city] a bit more fashionable than it actually is. That’s why I hired Lyn—she is just so good at what she does.”

Photo: Neil Rasmus/BFAnyc.com

Royalty, Stars, and a Blogger Mingle on Vanity Fair‘s Best-Dressed List

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Kerry WashingtonThe 2013 Vanity Fair Best-Dressed List dropped today, and in addition to the usual suspects, like Kate Middleton, Justin Timberlake, and Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady (who won recognition as a couple for the second year running), there was a host of new names on the roster. Kerry Washington (left), Beyoncé, Keith Richards, Jenna Lyons, and China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan, all appeared for the first time (Michelle Obama, however, was absent, as she was last year). Other notable honorees included three of Bryan Ferry’s four sons (Merlin didn’t make it) and Woody Allen’s estranged son, Ronan Farrow, who offered that his favorite shopping destinations were “inexpensive tailoring towns like Islamabad.”

This year also marked VF‘s inaugural International Best-Dressed List Challenge, which allowed the public to weigh in on who was most stylish. Hallie Swanson and Darren Henault came out the victors, proving that normal people (well, an Angeleno fashion blogger and a New York-based interior designer, respectively) can be best dressed, too.

Photo: Joe Schildhorn /BFAnyc.com

Scandal, Horror, and Lots of Dirty Politicians Take the 2013 Emmy Nominations

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Kerry Washington at the 2012 Emmy AwardsAfter hearing this morning’s announcement of the 2013 Emmy nominations, it seems that little has changed in TV land since 2012. After a somewhat controversial second season, Girls is still going strong, and the ever-trendy Game of Thrones, 30 Rock, Breaking Bad, and Louie all earned mentions, too. Unsurprisingly, Emmy veterans Mad Men, Downton Abbey, and Homeland were all nominated once (or twice, or five times) again. Other notable nods went to funny women Jane Lynch for Glee, Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep, and Amy Poehler for Parks and Recreation.

Newcomers included juicy dramas Scandal and Nashville, but the only real surprise was the Netflix series House of Cards. The political saga earned nine nominations, including Best Drama Series, and marks the first time the Emmys have included an online-only program.

In terms of quantity, American Horror Story: Asylum tops the list with nominations in seventeen categories. But the more-is-more game has a few other players: Saturday Night Live earned a hearty fifteen nominations, as did HBO’s Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra. The film’s Michael Douglas and Matt Damon were each nominated for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, and Steven Soderbergh is up for Best Director. Of course, we’ll be keeping our eyes on the red carpet to see what stars like Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series nominee Kerry Washington (left), Tina Fey, Claire Danes, and Kiernan Shipka don to the awards on September 22, and we’re also eager to hear who takes the win for best costumes—crowd favorites like Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and Downton Abbey are all vying for the prize. See a list of the big nominees, below.

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