Lighten Up, Suzy Menkes

Circus of Fashion Response Aesthete News

By now, you’ve likely read Suzy Menkes’ now infamous New York Times article, “The Circus of Fashion,” which can be summed up in the title of Man Repeller Leandra Medine’s response, “Blog is a Dirty Word.” As the fashion industry expands, not just with the recognition of smaller labels, but with an influx of popular style bloggers, Menkes turns her nose up at its growth and refers to bloggers as a crowd of peacocking “poseurs” (has anyone even used that word since high school?).

While a select few of her viewpoints are warranted, she essentially reduces bloggers to nobodies who don’t deserve to be so close to such exclusive events, getting in the way with their dreams of being featured on The Sartorialist. But she also says “editors who dress for attention are now challenged by bloggers who dress for attention,” admitting editors do their fair share of peacocking as well. Dressing just to get photographed has probably gotten a little out of hand on both ends, but the article mostly just comes off as Menkes bitter refusal to accept change. Perhaps she feels that her role as a professional fashion writer is threatened by the fact that fashion is becoming more democratized. The consumer can now be her own fashion critic while sitting at home watching the runway shows on her computer. But why shouldn’t the actual consumer be able to see what goes on inside industry doors?

“If fashion is for everyone, is it fashion?” she asks, adding that judging it has turned into a form of self-obsession. “Look at me loving this outfit in 15 different images!” While I wholeheartedly believe that many style bloggers are absolutely delusional and have no business judging anything (partially why I just focus on the industry itself here, I won’t kid myself), the answer is yes, Suzy. Fashion is not an exclusive club. Fashion needs interpretation, and that interpretation is someone’s individual style. Surely, you’ll allow the little people to have that?

Being lumped into such an insulting point of view is disheartening for many, but the truth that no one in the industry wants to admit is that in the grand scheme of things, none of it really matters. So much of fashion is frivolous, but that people participate in it at all makes it meaningful, and there are many awesome bloggers out there who add wonderful insight and give it substance on top of the fashion magazines/style bibles we all know and love. I recognize how silly and frivolous it all can be and often wonder why I even do this at all, what purpose does it have? But then I’m reminded of a recent editor’s letter in the T: The New York Times Style Magazine by Deborah Needleman that said:

“Style, to us, encompasses all the elements of life that aren’t absolutely necessary, but without which life would be less charmed, less beautiful, and certainly not as fun.”

It is fun. Everyone just needs to relax and let bloggers have theirs. The hype won’t last forever, no one’s stealing Menkes’ seat at Fashion Week. There’s no need to be so serious. With that said, I’d like to share one of my favorite blogs that truly does add some meaning to fashion: Informed Style. Written by Devon Smiley, she connects the art world, the marketing world, intriguing strategies and other great influences with what we see marching down the runways. I suggest starting off with my favorite article by Devon, “Making It Work: Art and Fashion – Da Vinci and Haute Couture.” Enjoy.

Let’s talk. I would love to hear what you think about “The Circus of Fashion” in the comments below. There has been such a strong response from the blogging world and everyone’s point of view adds a new aspect to the conversation.