She starts the article by reminiscing about the glory days of the 90s, back when fashion editors were real fashion editors and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. Back then (apparently) fashion was exclusive and secretive - only available to those in the know and incomprehensible to mere mortals. Now everyone is going to shows! Bloggers with no journalistic background or training or qualifications beyond their popularity. And the street style extravaganza in front of the shows is getting as much attention as the shows themselves! And where once fashion was totally mediated by editors, we, the public, could only see what they showed us, now it is a free for all! Everyone has access to everything, there are no controls, anyone can watch live streams or look at runway shots moments after editors. The world has gone mad.
Despite clearly being unimpressed by most of the above I do think that Menkes makes some good points. Real criticism is valuable and skilful and deserves respect. I think the internet *cue rather sweeping generalisation* is quite averse to considered criticism. Hila has written a lot about this in other contexts. There is a 'if you haven't got anything nice/totally super upbeat to say, don't say anything at all' bent to the blogosphere whereby you have to be 100% positive all the time or you are accused of trolling. True criticism adds value and starts a discussion and can be beautiful. There are some wonderful book reviews out there - JJS's response to DFW's The Pale King (apologies for the abbreviations, so many barrels!) is an enthralling read on its own merits. It is a real skill that requires talent and practice. Everyone is entitled to their response but that does not make everyone a critic. OMG I LOVES THOSE SHOES I CAN'T WAIT TO BUY THEM is not criticism, no matter how heartfelt the sentiment. [Obviously that is not all fashion bloggers, there are people on the internetz responding to shows and designers in considered, thoughtful ways, with paragraphs and not just streams of images, but - and I think this is fair to say - those bloggers probably aren't getting many show invites. N.b. blog recommendations always welcome.]
Tommy Ton for Style.com
However, there is no reason we can't have both - the critic and the individual. One does not invalidate the other. There is no reason to be antagonistic. Similarly, street style + shows. I don't think it is unreasonable that we should want to see the clothes from shows styled and worn by real people in real life. Obviously, when it comes to the furore of fashion week the term 'real life' is being used with some flexibility but compared to the runway or a studio these are relatively uncontrolled environments. These women are not models or when they are they are not being photographed in a professional capacity. Designers may lend the big hitters pieces or outfits but they will add their personal taste and twists and this is why they're popular. The pleasure of street style is also that, aside from ADR et al, it will also capture and engage with anyone who looks interesting. If you flaunt yourself at fashion week, or even if you just happen to be walking past, and you look great, whether you're rich and famous or not, whether you're wearing designer or high street or vintage or handmade, you'll be photographed and you can inspire people. You don't need a golden ticket to interact with fashion. I think you can argue that the popularity of street style represents a democratisation of fashion - we are literally taking to the streets.
Tommy Ton for Style.com - still one of the best
Also, ELITIST. And bitter. "If fashion is for everyone, is it fashion?" That sentence makes me want to punch something. What is that supposed to mean!? Who is it aimed at? Bloggers? Surely not her own readers? It feels personal - I am not worthy of fashion. Well, screw you. Whatever your pedigree, you don't own fashion, woman! Jeez... Menkes's views also seem outdated and conservative to me. Yes, the way the public interacts with fashion is changing but change is inevitable and isn't automatically bad. Every creative industry is struggling with the impact of the internet but sitting back and whining isn't going to change anything. This brave new world offers lots of amazing opportunities and a chance to rethink our relationship with fashion/writing/music. It is going to be difficult as we work things out and readjust to a new horizon but sneering and rehashing your personal glory days seems impressively counterproductive.
None of these are new thoughts or issues. They have been swirling around my head for weeks/months/years and Suzy just happened to trigger this outpouring. It's not even particularly topical because Menkes's opinions are pretty old hat but there you go. I don't have any conclusions. What do you think about anything/everything?