Diane Pernet, the iconically-veiled fashion blogger of A Shaded View of Fashion, recently published a piece—first on the dying-to-break-ground vintage site Byronesque and then again on The Business of Fashion—on the current state of fashion criticism and its history. It’s a lament, as any thinking person’s op-ed on the subject will be. Pernet’s opening complaints reminded me of the first big story I wrote for Bullett Fashion: How to Write About Dressing Well: The Truth About Fashion Criticism.
Pernet, echoing my research, cites the invitation-only guest lists of fashion shows, the advertiser/editorial entanglement, and how businessmen have come to rule as three factors that contribute to lack of real fashion criticism. My favorite quote:
Are current Vogue editors critics? I’m not sure if a lot of editors even read books, much less offer serious criticism of the collections that they cover. Their focus is more about fitting all the advertisers into the editorial pages.
After her initial complaints, though, Pernet does something productive—she takes us through a history of fashion editors and critics and demonstrates how, given those precedents, the field could be different. It’s worth a read, especially for the “little known facts” like this: before Cathy Horyn was a fashion critic, she was a war correspondent. Of course she was.