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7 posts tagged "Project Runway"

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

Michael Kors Fights Hunger

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Seriously, is there anything Michael Kors hasn’t done? After building an international fashion mega-brand, winning a slew of design awards, and serving as a wacky but lovable judge on Project Runway, Kors is looking to add “cured hunger” to his résumé. Today, the designer announced that he has partnered with the United Nations World Food Programme in an effort to alleviate the international hunger crisis. This is, however, not the first time Kors has dedicated himself to this cause: Last year, he donated $5 million to God’s Love We Deliver, an initiative that brings meals to those living with severe illnesses in New York City, Newark, and the Hudson County.

“I wanted to commit our company to something with global impact, because we’re a global brand,” Kors told Style.com. “The World Food Programme is working to solve the problem of world hunger, and I’m thrilled to be joining forces with them. It’s exciting that we are engaging in an effort with the potential to help so many people.”

Founded fifty years ago, the WFP feeds more than ninety million people in seventy countries each year, and has deemed hunger “the world’s most solvable problem.” For his part, Kors plans to raise millions of dollars over the next few years via a series of campaigns and initiatives. Come March, Kors will release two unisex watch styles for his “Watch Hunger Stop” campaign. The sale of each watch will help feed one hundred children. And today the designer kicks things off with a PSA, which, aiming to promote awareness for the cause, features fashion, music, and film stars like Seth Meyers, Bette Midler, Alexandra Richards, Olivia Munn, Cody Horyn, Karolina Kurkova, and more. For information on how you can help, watch Kors’ film (above) or visit the designer’s Web site.

ZZ For LV, KK For DK, Another Project Comes To An End, And More…

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It wasn’t a great night for traditional fashion books, but there were some stylish wins at the National Magazine Awards last night. New York took home four Ellies, The New Yorker and National Geographic three each, and GQ took home the award for General Excellence in the 500,000-to-1 million circulation category. [WWD]

The latest Louis Vuitton “Icons” campaign has leaked, starring footballers Zidane, Pelé, and Maradona enjoying some foosball in their downtime. Annie Leibovitz shot the campaign in Madrid. And, oh yeah, there are some pieces of LV luggage (Zidane’s monogrammed with his ZZ) lurking in the background. [Racked]

Speaking of models, Karlie Kloss and Anna Jagodzinska are the faces of Donna Karan for Fall 2010. Patrick Demarchelier shot them in New York for the label’s 25th anniversary campaign. [Fashionologie]

And another designer made it work. Seth Aaron Henderson was named the winner of the seventh season of Project Runway last night. [NYDN]

Photo: Annie Leibovitz for Louis Vuitton

French Invasion Edition: Lanvin To Vegas, Le Baron To New York, And More…

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Lanvin has opened its second American outlet—and the first to sell its menswear—in Las Vegas (pictured). Well, there goes any chance of those casino winnings actually making it home. [WWD]

Groan: Project Runway, the Wii game. Because the television wasn’t barking “Make it work!” enough already. [WWD]

Is Le Baron coming to New York City? According to Eater, a deal is in the works for an NYC outpost of André’s famous Parisian club on the border of Chinatown and the Financial District. Spring ’11 fashion week revelers, starting girding yourselves now. [Eater]

Brian Atwood is leaving Bally after three years with the Swiss house; his Fall 2010 show in Milan will be his last. He’ll concentrate on his namesake label. [FWD]

And Tommy Hilfiger may see a change of hands: Vogue U.K. is reporting that its owner, Apax Partners, is considering selling. All eyes are on Phillips-Van Heusen, seen as the likeliest buyer; the company already licenses Tommy’s shirting and neckwear. Wholesale intrigue! [Vogue U.K.]

SJP Gets Bitten By Another Designer?, Margiela From The Martin Era, And More…

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Cue the rampant speculation: Rumor has it that Sarah Jessica Parker may be signing on to a creative role in the house of Halston. Can we expect giant Carrie flowers and nameplate necklaces to make a comeback? [Vogue U.K.]

Missed your chance to grab that Margiela military-sock sweater back in 1991? Your second chance is coming soon. 1stdibs.com and Resurrection Vintage are teaming up to offer 1,000 pieces of unworn vintage MMM from the 20-year collection of Marcia Berger. We’re sure it’s just a coincidence that “Marcia Berger” sounds eerily similar to “Margiela”…right? [WWD]

It’s official: They’ve made it work. Today is Project Runway Day in New York City, when a strip of Seventh Avenue at 39th Street will be renamed Project Runway Way. (The name change is only temporary—after that, it’s auf Wiedersehen.) [Racked]

And speaking of reality-TV fashion, Rachel Zoe not only has a new season confirmed—she’s also got a new stylist. Ashley Avignone announced herself as the latest addition to the RZ stable via Twitter. [NY Mag]

Photo: Retna