Manolo says, there is the new exhibit that has just opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute entitled Blog.mode Addressing Fashion and sponsored by the Maestro Manolo Blahnik. This morning there was the very good article in the Wall Street Journal about this show.
Fashion criticism has long been the exclusive realm of an insular band of journalists who traveled the big runway shows in Paris, Milan and New York and seemed to speak their own esoteric language. But the Met’s new exhibit, “Blog.mode Addressing Fashion,” is inviting anyone with an Internet connection to critique the clothes on display. With its new blog, blog.metmuseum.org/blogmode/, which went up this week, the august museum is also acknowledging that traditional fashion criticism is over.
The Manolo has been talking about this very thing, the democratization of fashion and fashion reportage and criticism for more than three years now.
The article continues.
“There’s a whole new field out there,” says Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s curator. He decided last summer to turn a retrospective of important garments acquired by the museum since 2000 into a three-way conversation of sorts between curator, designer and outside observers. “We wanted to further the practice of fashion interpretation and appreciation,” he says.
The exhibit features 65 garments arranged mostly chronologically, from a circa-1730 British waistcoat to Mr. Theyskens’s ballgown from a 2007 Nina Ricci collection. It contains work from prominent designers like Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garçons’ creative director, Rei Kawakubo, and Donna Karan. [...]
In the middle of the exhibit, a “blog bar” invites viewers to post their own thoughts on the clothes. Curators decided to invite anyone to post comments on the blog after noticing over the past year and a half that fashion blogging is gaining momentum and respect. As influential blogs garner large audiences and advertisers shift ad spending to the Internet, designers and retailers are also beginning to view the medium as a new opportunity to reach people. [...]
Many bloggers are “cultivated amateurs,” Mr. Koda said this week, while admiring the 18th-century red wool waistcoat. “I do not think bloggers will change the direction of fashion, but they can inform our interpretation of objects.”
The exhibit also illustrates how the Internet is making high-brow cultural institutions more accessible to a mainstream audience. “Curators aren’t these godlike creatures,” Mr. Bolton says.
The Costume Institute’s democratic approach to criticism surprises some industry experts. “What is astonishing to me is that the fashion industry is allowing these people to become important,” says David Wolfe, creative director at the Doneger Group, a New York retail consultancy.
Here is the person who does not understand how the new media works.
The fashion industry can neither “allow” nor nor not allow the fashion bloggers to become important. It is not within their ability to restrict us from writing what we think about various things. Nor is it within their power to keep many of us from becoming popular voices about matters sartorial. And if we become popular voices, then they, the fashion nabobs, must pay attention to us and our readers, for if they do not, they risk alienating their market.
Thus the importance of the fashion bloggers is entirely dependent upon whether or not they are being read, and has very little to do with the acceptance or non-acceptance of the fashion industry.
The good news, however, is that there are many in the fashion world who understand what is going on.
But some designers find it refreshing. “Fashion is supposed to be this exclusive world that nobody has access to,” says Hussein Chalayan, who uses elements of technology in his designs, such as a remote-control-powered dress in the show. But the Internet is changing that perception. “At the end of the day when you have a critic write about your work, it is just one person who is supposed to be an expert,” he says. “Why is this taken more seriously [than a blogger]?”
For designers, bloggers also represent a useful tool for market research and brand promotion. Shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, who sponsored the Met’s exhibition, says he thinks bloggers have been partly responsible for getting a younger generation of consumers excited about his shoes. One popular blogger who calls himself Manolo the Shoe Blogger has built a community of people who treat footwear criticism as if it were a team sport. “I love it,” Mr. Blahnik says.
Did the Maestro Manolo just say that he “loves” the Shoe Blog of the humble shoeblogger?
This is one of the happiest days of the in Manolo the Shoebloggers entire life!! (Although, this is not the first time the Maestro has mentioned the Shoe Blog.)
The fact that Manolo Blahnik, himself, would sponsor the exhibition about the intersection of blogs and fashion says everything we need to know.