Fashion Reportage is not Nuclear Rocket Surgery

Manolo says, the editors of the fancy lady fashion rags are in the uproar.

“The Internet has allowed people to be ‘couch critics.’ You could sit anywhere in the world, you could sit in Oklahoma, look at a fashion show on the Internet, you could post your thoughts . . . the Internet has made fashion a lot more democratic in this way. You know, Tavi, like her or don’t like her, she’s 13 — whether Manolo Adores the Tavi!she even really writes it herself, the idea that she has gotten all this attention, it’s because of the Internet, not because of anything else. [At Elle] we’re talking about people who have really done this their entire lives, who’ve really covered fashion, who really understand fashion . . . understand the history of fashion, can critique it from a point of view, [can] actually relay it back to something they’ve experienced and understand. I don’t think Tavi even knows what happened five years ago. She has every right to [post] on the Internet, she has every right to have the following she has . . . everybody can follow her and find her creative or funny or quirky or inspiring, but the idea is there are people here [at Elle] who do know the history and I think that Anne [Slowey] stresses this. It’s absolutely true: if you don’t know what you’re talking about, then do you really have the credibility to talk about it?”

What is that you say, bitter professional fashion lady? The internet has democratized your fashion reportage?

Here is the Manolo, writing many years ago.

At the same of the time, the medias have become more democratic, and the new media tools, especially the blog have given ordinary peoples– shoe lovers, teenaged girls, dandies, stylish college professors, and anyone who has the computer– the tools to talk about the style and the fashion to the wider audience, to become the fashion and style critics.

Many of these new critics they are not only passionate about the fashion, but they are also wonderfully knowledgeable and entertaining writers. And, as the consequence, they are gaining the audience for their writings on the internet, joining their voices to the voices of those who have been annointed fashion critics by the newspapers and the fashion magazines.


This it is nothing short of miraculous, and it is why the Manolo is excited about the future, about the possibilities of discovering the new talent, the new views, the new ways of looking at fashion and style. It is also why the Manolo is the greatest supporter of the fashion blogging, because he belives that this process of democratization it cannot but result in good things.

Fashion reportage is not the nuclear rocket surgery, capable of being performed only by exquisitely-trained, officially-approved astronaut-surgeons.

It is, at its base, the giving of opinion mingled with the moderate helping of rather easily acquired fashion-specific history and training. And while experience and the development and refinement of the eye have great value, they are not the only criteria by which we judge the success of our critics and fashion reporters.

What distinguishes the best of the fashion reporters and critics, such as Susy Menkes and the marvelous Tavi, is not their elaborate training and the “dues paid” (or “unpaid”) but their peculiar eye and amusing ways of expressing themselves. And this is what we desire most of all from our critics, amusement and insight and perhaps the ability to translate the emotions and ideas of fashion into words, so that even when we do not agree with them, we still like to see what they have to say. (And the Manolo does not often agree with Tavi but he nonetheless adores her, because she is the hyper-observant oddball who writes beautifully and makes the Manolo laugh.)

As for the contention that there is much dross in fashion blogging, the Manolo can only answer yes, it is true. But, have you seen the latest cover of (insert name of prominent fashion magazine here)? How much of that magazine’s content is simply recycled fluff with glossy pictures?

The sad fact is that the world is filled with dross, the fact which makes finding the gold (the best bloggers and the best writers) so much more satisfying.

Of the course, this is all the big tempest in the tiny teacup, because all of the Elle editors in the world cannot put Dumpty Humpty back together again, no matter how much they complain about his broken pieces at special discussion panels convened for that purpose.