Much has already been said about the Hedi Slimane/Cathy Horyn tiff so I will keep this brief. I would just like to offer one observation.
Hedi Slimane belongs to a generation of designers that emerged on the scene in the age of luxury fashion conglomerates whose deep pockets and lavish advertising budgets have turned most of the mainstream fashion media (and many bloggers) into little more than extensions of their in-house press departments. Upon joining a venerable fashion house belonging to one such conglomerate, he naturally assumed that he could "manage the message".
Slimane's assumption wasn't entirely unfounded. Even newspapers who are far less beholden to advertisers than glossies frequently offer little more than description dressed up as criticism (by "criticism", I mean assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a collection as opposed to merely describing it). For newspapers, what is at stake is less advertising revenue than access. Simply put, we live in an age where members of the industry seem afraid to voice anything akin to an actual opinion for fear of alienating powerful brands.
Too many designers are unaccustomed to hearing actual fashion critiques because professional fashion criticism is increasingly rare. Ms. Horyn belongs to a dwindling class of fashion critics that include veterans like Suzy Menkes, Lynn Yeager, Robin Givhan and Virginie Mouzet (who sadly will be leaving French daily Le Figaro for yet another Conde Nast title, the yet-to-be launched French language edition of Vanity Fair). At the end of the day, whether the world agrees with Ms. Horyn's assessment of Mr. Slimane's inaugural collection for the house of Saint Laurent is irrelevant. She was doing her job.
I think Show Studio founder Nick Knight said it best during the last live fashion panel discussion streamed on his site yesterday: "Fashion needs a strong critical forum." I agree. Informed fashion criticism by independent professional journalists plays a valuable role for designers and consumers alike. We need more of it, not less.
The Luxe Chronicles