With various international fashion weeks having taken place recently, there have been three things trending on the blogosphere – Cara Delevingne, Cara Delevinge’s eyebrows and an article by esteemed fashion writer Suzy Menkes. In her article entitled ‘The Circus of Fashion’ Menkes bemoans the current state of the shows. As a renowned fashion journalist, Menkes has seen it all, but it seems to be the recent rise of the blogger that has affected her so much. The title of the article aptly describes her viewpoint on this. Where once only a few dedicated fashionistas, stylishly decked out in their black uniform like crows, waited for the doors to open, these same people now have to battle through the hordes of photographers who are jostling for a snap of the latest blogger to be causing a sartorial scene. She believes that the photographers are more interested in what these ‘real people’ are wearing instead of documenting the actual show.
Naturally there was an outcry from the blogging world who took Menkes’ article as an example of the old-school fashion elite reacting to the new generation of electronic-based fashion critics. Some of the most well-known bloggers such as Leandra Medine of the Man Repeller and Susanna Lau of Style Bubble have voiced their opinions, mostly reacting against the claim that all bloggers have been lumped together and that not all fashion bloggers write with the same agenda.
As a blogger myself, I should feel insulted by this article as I never get offered gifts from designers, nor do I frequent the FROW, but then that is not why I do it. However Menkes’ article should not be looked at as a personal affront to the blogging community, but should be seen as a nostalgic view on developments in fashion journalism.
The monochromatic outfits of the old-school of fashion journalism were chic and stylish, yet the rise of street style these past few years has led many fashionistas to dress outrageously in order to get noticed. Just look at the Jason Wu show where someone’s yellow trousers were muted as they were distracting attention from the clothes. In some ways this demonstrates that Menkes believes that bloggers see their style as the only way they can get noticed enough to contribute to the fashion industry, not through the hours of hard work that she has spent to get to the position where she is now.
Modern technology has obviously played a key part in the rise of the bloggers. Though Menkes initially states that she enjoys the ease with which you can produce photos now, there is now no longer a time gap between when something is on the runway to when it is on the high-street. She recognises that people across the world now have access to the shows, albeit through shaky hand-held cameras in distorted colours, but it is a good start. However, this immediacy and availability of information means that by the time magazines are able to produce a runway analysis they already seem dated. Because viewpoints can go viral in such a short amount of time bloggers wield the power to manipulate the masses. In this Menkes is not criticising the bloggers themselves, but more the loss of publishing power.
A key aspect of Menkes’ argument is how self-centred bloggers are. A personal uniform is no longer a rebellious statement but instead is a much copied attempt for fame and free gifts. They may have started out dressing for themselves, but, by documenting themselves religiously, the majority of bloggers dress ostentatiously purely to get noticed. Also too often bloggers are provided with front row seats or freebies by designers and so their viewpoints are clouded and biased. Menkes states that when she started out a journalist would never accept ‘bribes’ but would always instead give a fair and balanced review of a show.
In all Menkes’ article should not be seen as a criticism of today’s bloggers. Sure she accuses them of being greedy and completely self-obsessed, but it is her attempt to defend the difficult way that she had to make it instead of the technology-driven and seemingly easy route of today.
Image by Millicent Wilkinson