74 posts tagged "Tim Blanks"
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?” Although 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.
Today in Milan, a panel of judges including Style.com’s Tim Blanks, Franca Sozzani, Angelica Cheung, Frida Giannini, Colin McDowell, and Alexa Chung selected the winner of the coveted International Woolmark Prize. Competitors included the States’ Joseph Altuzarra (who will be sending us a diary chronicling his experience), the U.K.’s Sibling, Asia’s Ffixxed, Australia’s Christopher Esber, and Rahul Mishra, who represented India and the Middle East. So which talent won the judges’ affections? That would be Mishra. Having shown a lineup focused on embroidery, the designer will take home $100,000 AU in prize money, and his Woolmark collection will be stocked in such retailers as Saks Fifth Avenue, 10 Corso Como, Harvey Nichols, and Joyce.
Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, the designers of Public School, proved that they’re worthy recipients of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund’s top prize. They showed womenswear alongside their menswear for the first time at Milk Studios yesterday, but what I like about them is that they’re not trying to run before they can walk. Here, for both boys and girls, they stuck to their multilayered, street-meets-high fashion guns. They also had a great casting, completely un-self-conscious in its diversity. Why can’t more designers figure that out?
HOOD BY AIR
Speaking of casting, Kevin Amato, who fills the Hood by Air runway with a spectacular group of mostly nonprofessional models of every color and gender, is at the top of his game. The show was ten or so looks too long and the catwalk inside Chelsea Piers about a mile too long, but nothing could detract from the impression that this is the most exciting label in New York right now. (For more on that, see Maya Singer’s profile in the last issue of Style.com/Print.) Designer Shayne Oliver continued to find ways to breathe new life into logo sweatshirts—a neater trick than it sounds—and pushed his aesthetic forward in dynamic, multizippered outfits in leather, suede, and velvet. The finale of voguers hair-whipped the crowd into delirium. You can enjoy the energy of that, but don’t overlook how much thought and hard work Oliver is putting into honing his vision.
From Hood to haute. Five blocks away at the Paul Kasmin Gallery, the charming designer Manolo Blahnik was showing off his charming shoes against the backdrop of four charming films directed by his friend Michael Roberts. Blahnik, indomitable despite the fact that he was nursing a sinus infection and a sprained neck, held up a shoe and offered it for inspection to Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, the stylist. It had a curtain of tasseled fringe across the instep. “Ca je deteste,” said De Dudzeele, not so much dismissing Blahnik’s work as the entire notion of tasseled fringe. Blahnik was visibly tickled by his friend’s honesty. “You need people like that,” he said. “Who tell you.” Besides, De Dudzeele’s restless eye had already fastened onto another shoe. This one she j’adored.
DINNER AT INDOCHINE
I ran home after Diane von Furstenberg’s show, a celebration of the remarkable forty-year run of her wrap dress. I caught up with some editing, and then Susan and I headed out to a dinner celebrating the appointment of Kyle Hagler as president of the New York division of Next Model Management (or, as we like to think of him, Kyle “The Cover” Hagler—the guy’s relentless in trying to place his clients on the cover of your magazine). During seventeen years at IMG, Hagler was instrumental in building the careers of Liya Kebede and Joan Smalls, among others, and has done as much as any model agent to champion diversity (though I suspect he sees it less as breaking barriers than simply erasing them). Now he gets to run the show.
On the way out, we ran into our buddy Waris Ahluwalia. “Sorry,” I said. “I think I missed your event.” He’d had a tasting for his line of teas at The Standard earlier that afternoon. “That’s OK,” Waris shot back. “It was really only meant to be for friends and family anyway.”
READ THIS REVIEW NOW
Yesterday, Tim Blanks produced and hosted three videos for us, went to a designer’s studio to report a story for the next issue of our magazine, and knocked off a couple of reviews, including this marvel of lucidity that arrived in my inbox at 2:09 a.m. That amounts to a light day for Tim.