Saint Laurent fashion show
Isn't it interesting that the two big off-the-runway stories bookending the month-long, Spring 2013 grand fashion week tour wrapping up this week in Paris involve editor spats?
It all started in New York City on September 9 when an editor named Jennifer Eymere slapped Zac Posen publicist Lynn Tesoro for taking away her mother's front row seat at the designer's fashion show. The extreme scene resulted in a brazen admission of guilt by the editor in question, a lawsuit by the publicist and way more press play than Posen's retro frocks.
Earlier this week, new Saint Laurent designer Hedi Slimane sent his first full womenswear collection down a Paris catwalk with a few notable journalists missing from the audience. One of them, the New York Times' Cathy Horyn, used her lack of an invitation as an opportunity to write a column about her lack of an invitation (she traces her exclusion back to a 2004 review where she credited Dior designer Raf Simons for the return of a slim fit in menswear instead of Slimane).
Slimane misguidedly responded to Tuesday's column with his own review of Horyn's writing and wardrobe, and proclaimed "she will never get a seat at Saint Laurent".
It's easy to shrug off this kind of thing as schoolyard-calibre infighting among different factions of the fashion industry but it also suggests a changing dynamic between those who create and those who review it.
(In the middle of all this, Horyn also ticked off Oscar De La Renta by referring to him as a "hot dog" but that episode seems more a case of ambiguous writing and misinterpretation than an example of growing tension between the press, designers and their PR people).
The Posen incident is an extreme example of the kind of abuse that spoiled editors can heap onto publicists but the underlying sentiment is commonplace. I've witnessed editors chew out PR reps because food service at a designer dinner is running late or because their fashion show seat has been given away to someone more prompt. I've admittedly lost it myself (though never snapped enough to slap anyone. I'm more of a passive aggressive Twitter rant kind of guy), caught up in the day-to-day entitlements of style editing.
Speaking of entitlement, Horyn's column might as well have lead with, "don't you know who I am?" Obviously Slimane does and likely felt empowered to not invite her because brands are discovering new ways to circumvent traditional press and connect directly with their audience through social media channels and online marketing. As an easy comparison, Saint Laurent has over a million Twitter followers compared to Horyn's 200,000+.
And therein lies the lesson from all this embarrassing (though delicious) bickering. The fashion editor still sees him or herself as the lone, authoritative channel through which a brand's message can be expressed and often expects to be wooed for his or her interest. A brand like Saint Laurent, on the other hand, is comfortable excluding one of the most widely read fashion critics on the planet because they can still get their word out without her filter.
Whether that's good for business or style journalism is an important question. But now more than ever, it's a brand's prerogative.