If you have been following the fashion news, you will have heard that the old feud between Fashion Editors vs Fashion Bloggers has kicked off again, some seven years after it first began. Earlier this week, Vogue.com fashion editors Sally Singer, Sarah Mower, Nicole Phelps and Alessandra Codinha published their discussion and recap of Milan Fashion Week, but it was not their reviews of the collections that made news, but rather, their viciously disparaging remarks about the fashion bloggers that were in attendance.
As an independent and multifaceted online publication that covers many other areas including fashion, we here at TIG have been watching the drama unfold from afar, choosing to present to you both sides of the argument below. We’ve published the Vogue.com article below in its entirety with the paragraphs of note highlighted in bold, along with links to a few of the responses and the fallout so far . . .
Ciao, Milano! Vogue.com’s Editors Discuss the Week That Was
The Milan collections kicked off with a lunch, hosted by Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, in the studio where the sets and costumes for La Scala are created and archived. It was a magnificent beginning to an energized week. With very few exceptions, all of the leading and emerging Italian designers were in attendance, and everyone seemed determined to present a unified, upbeat force. The speeches and conversation turned to global elections and refugees, and there was a feeling of seriousness and purpose. What a welcome to Milan. It seemed light-years away from the siloed, secretive, and overtly competitive tone that used to greet one on arrival at Linate. Times have changed: This is a gentler and more soulful Milan. And how fitting that the gathering preceded the Gucci show, where Alessandro Michele’s quirky bohemian scalawags are now favoring a punky monarchic look. For that brand, and indeed for Italian fashion, hard and sexy seems a lifetime ago.
The Gucci revolution sort of defines Milan at this point. It’s the reference for how to do a brand makeover, but it’s also the style guide for far too many lesser collections. Look up or look down, and it’s also the shoe, T-shirt, and sunglasses of choice for the fashion tribe. Ubiquitous and inescapable, Gucci seems to embody the two things everyone wants from this town, or Milan wants everyone to want from Milan: heritage and zeitgeist.
I think this is an incredibly tricky business, and Michele must be complimented on the deftness of his whole vision. As the week wore on, the strain involved in pulling off this blend of the timeless and timely became the story—for me, at least. A collection was either all about the ateliers and craftsmen (for example, Bottega Veneta’s 50th anniversary show with its empowering, lovely pieces) or the creation of streetwear stars and clothes made to stop traffic and paparazzi. It’s a schizophrenic moment, and that just can’t be good. (Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour: Please stop. Find another business. You are heralding the death of style.)
The best collections, in my view, were neither concerned with the triumph of the artisan nor the hegemony of Snapchat. At Versace, Donatella Versace showed a modern wardrobe for a woman with shoes one could stride in happily and clothes that could walk into an office or a club and look interesting and smart and the way one wants to look when one plunks down cash for designer clothes. Ditto the ever-brainy Marni, where Consuelo Castiglioni sent out an emotionally charged collection (her last?) that was intelligent and elegant. Neither of these collections were created for clicks’ sake or to wave the flag for the past. Hooray. On to Paris.
Sarah Mower, Vogue.com Chief Critic
As I come from London, where prime ministers have been actively supporting fashion with invitations to Downing Street for three administrations, I’m glad to see that—finally—there is an Italian government that is getting behind their enormous industry, which supports a way of life that has carried on, supplied by small family businesses since after World War II. What took them so long? I understand why there is so much emphasis on the preservation of craft in Italy, and the anxiety that has come with globalization, terrorism, and the humanitarian refugee tragedy so many ordinary Italians are heroically trying to stem daily.
On the other hand, as a journalist used to trying to communicate the joy of clothes to women, artisanship is an ever-worthy but dreadfully dull subject to harp on. Rather, what I see as wonderful and unique about Italy and Italian fashion is its world-beating ability to enjoy life. Is there a city anywhere in the world that innately knows how to dress for summer in a feminine, sexy, simple way better than Milan does?
It helped so much that it’s been summer in Milan this week, so we’ve been viewing (and wearing) this summer’s clothes as we view clothes for next summer. It put me in the mood to relate; I envy the joie de vivre of Italian women, of all ages. And who can be bothered to try to be intellectual in the sunshine? So yes, Sally, the professional blogger bit, with the added aggression of the street photographer swarm who attend them, is horrible, but most of all, pathetic for these girls, when you watch how many times the desperate troll up and down outside shows, in traffic, risking accidents even, in hopes of being snapped. The non-photographed interested me far more: to a woman, the pros had all packed their midi floral dresses and sandals, and that was the fashion news for me. Where had this permission stemmed from? Why, Vetements’s revival of floral peasanty frocks. Yet that is a broad-spectrum, down-home, nonexclusive aesthetic that, I think, has allowed everyone to relax about “fashion.”
That’s why I was happiest to attend Italian shows and presentations where intellectual posturing became beside the point. Alessandro Michele’s clothes are fully saturated in “craft” embroideries, and so on, but really he is just a Roman boy reveling in the joy of making colorful, elaborate clothes—finally! I laughed, too, when I stood in front of Miuccia Prada when she told us she was simplifying and looking for elegance. In complicated, agonizing times, I’m also a fan of Dolce & Gabbana. Me, a woman who considers herself a tireless searcher after meaning in fashion, can now find herself fancying a rose-printed dolce vita super-swirly sundress. That’s Italian. I’m not French, either, of course—so let’s see what that does to our heads, starting Tuesday.
Nicole Phelps, Director, Vogue Runway
For me, Versace and Bottega Veneta were the two tent poles of the week. Here in Milan it was almost too easy to forget the election year chaos back home. Donatella Versace made it top of mind once more with a soundtrack on which DJ Violet toasted, “the women taking chances,” cautioning, “if we do nothing, we get nothing.” That sounded like an endorsement of America’s female presidential candidate, but it was also a modus operandi for Versace herself, who has clearly been working hard to define and refine her daywear. What does the woman who sports the house’s body-conscious gowns at night wear when the sun’s out? For a long time, that was a question that went unanswered. Not anymore. Donatella seems to have a renewed focus, and her souped-up, crystal-studded, athletically inclined sportswear looked great. The casting was the best of week, too.
Bottega Veneta is Versace’s polar opposite, but the collection was terrific for the same reason. Tomas Maier, who celebrated his 15th anniversary at the 50-year-old house by bringing his studio team out for a moving victory lap with him, knows exactly who he is, and who his BV customer is, too. Discussing the collection backstage, he told me, “It’s about simplicity, and clothes for private pleasure. Something personal—more for the wearer than the onlooker.”
Which brings me back around to Sally and Sarah’s points about the street style mess. It’s not just sad for the women who preen for the cameras in borrowed clothes, it’s distressing, as well, to watch so many brands participate. No coincidence that Versace and BV are two houses that don’t play the game.
Alessandra Codinha, Vogue.com Fashion News Editor
Am I allowed to admit that I did a little fist pump when Sally broached the blogger paradox? There’s not much I can add here beyond how funny it is that we even still call them “bloggers,” as so few of them even do that anymore. Rather than a celebration of any actual style, it seems to be all about turning up, looking ridiculous, posing, twitching in your seat as you check your social media feeds, fleeing, changing, repeating . . . It’s all pretty embarrassing—even more so when you consider what else is going on in the world. (Have you registered to vote yet? Don’t forget the debate on Monday!)
Loving fashion is tremendous, and enthusiasts of all stripes are important to the industry—after all, people buy clothing because of desire, not any real need—but I have to think that soon people will wise up to how particularly gross the whole practice of paid appearances and borrowed outfits looks. Looking for style among a bought-and-paid-for (“blogged out?”) front row is like going to a strip club looking for romance. Sure, it’s all kind of in the same ballpark, but it’s not even close to the real thing.
The fashion world can all too easily feel like an impenetrable bubble, and no more so than when you’re working all hours and through the weekends in a foreign country. I’m grateful for the moments that felt like breakthroughs; for Versace’s power women, Marni’s bustling intellectual elegance, Prada’s ostrich-trimmed bed jackets, Giamba’s brocade glitter boots, and the designers and colleagues who brought me back to earth. See you in Paris.
Fashionista compiled the responses by Susanna Lau (Style Bubble) & Bryan Grey Yambao (BryanBoy), who were the first to address the article on their Twitter and Instagram accounts >>> here