Designer egos stifle fashion’s voices

By Sophia Coleman

Quote approval has been a hot debate in journalism lately, and it’s no surprise that divas in the fashion world are included on the list of culprits who have little faith in journalists.

Several brands have made headlines for pressuring publications and reporters to take pieces off the Internet or run corrections. The PR rep for Yves Saint Laurent wrote to online fashion publication Business of Fashion in mid-September asking its editors to rewrite a tweet that supposedly used the incorrect name of the brand. BoF referred to the fashion house as “Saint Laurent Paris,” because of changes in brand communications when designer Hedi Slimane took over. The publicist said the brand should be referred to as simply “Saint Laurent,” because “Paris” is now only used in the logo and not when referring to the collection.

PR reps should know that tweets are not editable, and if this clarification is so important to the brand, the lack of distinction is their own fault. BoF wrote an extensive feature in July that made clear the differences in the rebranding of Saint Laurent, and naturally, the company was displeased. Reps from YSL’s New York office requested that BoF revise the piece but never actually stated what needed to be corrected.

On Oct. 2, BoF editor Imran Ahmed wrote an opinion piece on both matters, saying the PR’s attempts were obsessive and in vain. He’s right. Best of luck to Saint Laurent if it wants to comb through every tweet, blog and Facebook status in order to control its branding.

Even more irksome is when designers and celebrities whine about opinion pieces. Apparently columnists are no longer allowed to critique a collection or comment on a celebrity’s contribution—or lack-thereof—to fashion history. YSL, Oscar De La Renta and Lady Gaga in particular have ridiculed New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn for her “cattiness.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that’s her job. Horyn has a tumultuous history with the three aforementioned luminaries. Basically, there’s a bunch of food-related name calling happening between the critic and De la Renta, including names like “hot-dog” and “three-day-old-hamburger.” Slimane pegged Horyn as a “schoolyard bully,” Gaga said Horyn’s style “ain’t d–k” and subsequently told Horyn’s boyfriend, Liz Claiborne executive Art Ortenberg, to “suck her d–k.” For creative types, they sure don’t have a way with words.

It’s understandable that brands are concerned with how they’re portrayed to the masses, but the media cannot solely be blamed for misconstrued information, especially if the material they’re given isn’t correct in the first place. Are PR reps, designers and celebrities unfamiliar with the phrase, “You get what you give”? Furthermore, when columnists are picked on for backing up their opinions, they’re doing their job well. Their purpose is to get a rise out of people and make readers question what is being fed to them. If that upsets a few in the process, bravo.