The Golden Era of Fashion Blogging? What Golden Era?

April 23, 2014 • Fashion

Photo: Yvan Rodic, Facehunter

Photo: Yvan Rodic, Facehunter

In the new Vogue video series “Vogue in Motion,” the magazine takes its hungry-for-any-tidbit (“When I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I would buy Vogue instead of dinner. I felt it fed me more…”) audience on a sneak peek romp behind their March shoot “Petal Pushers.” Where models don floral outfits and flounce about, and do that hop-and-smile, walk-and-smile we see in every BTS, ever.

But in a scene from the series’ trailer, making a more rare appearance, Vogue queen Anna Wintour etherealizes in fur and fuchsia (or maybe that’s plum?), barely parts her lips and eschews, “It’s un-wearable,” to an outfit off-screen.

With only two words, she kills what she considers worthless, and as in-Vogue-we-trust blind believers, we accept this to be true. The hammer, fallen.

Monday, with many more words and like a voice through the homogenized blob of fashion blogging, The Cut proposed what most in capital “S” Serious fashion circles (like, Anna, or Cathy Horyn, or Suzy Menkes), have thought for some time: The ‘Golden Era’ of fashion blogging is over.

Except there never was a Golden Era–a period of great peace, prosperity, and happiness where fashion people lived in ideal happiness. Despite the front row seats, free clothes, the millions of Instagram minions, there was never a point where the bloggers were treated as royalty. Real royalty.

There was always a war at play, one between fashion industry players and the interlopers. Between the vets who cut their teeth on polyester, and the new girls on the block—the ones who saturated us with their selfies, their macaroons, their Chanel espadrilles and Celine bags at the airport.

When it all started to amalgamate, there were only a few who broke from the pack. The turncoats who knew they needed to do more than accept a free jacket and post some pretty photos, who knew they needed to do more than precisely nothing. And in the midst of the war, most bloggers were too distracted by shiny things and freebies to reevaluate or realize that you can’t produce the same product as your BFF. From Jules to Aimee to Shea to Chiara–at some point they merged into a single well-dressed body. Either you’re offering a commodity, or you’re not. Either you’re offering a palpable improvement, or you’re repeating posts.

They also never realized they were in enemy territory, operating beyond their province.

The fashion industry knew this. They knew that whatever credibility the bloggers gleaned at the shows in Paris, they threw away attending events like the Guess Hotel at Coachella.

Case in point: a girl who is now a very, very well-known blonde fashion blogger, used to work nights at a club in Hollywood where the girls wore pleather dresses that smashed and pushed their boobs into grope-worthy orbs.

During the day she spent hours, endless ones, in front of the mirror of the bedroom she shared with another girl (tips in HWood ain’t so great, ladies), plotting outfits, painting her face, and then taking photos in her Forever21 garb. In those days, it was all Forever21.

She is the quintessential example of a girl who never “paid her dues,” (unless you equate bottle service in a bar with coffee runs at Conde Nast), has no formal training, and will never really amount to much. She is, like the vast sea of shoes-ers, unfit for her current position. And yet she claims to be an editor, a designer, a fashion consultant, a stylist, and a TV host.

She attempts to be everything, take every “opportunity,” when in reality, she’s none of those things.

No gifted designer duds can change this.

She has been grabbing at the free shit with her left hand, and with the right, trying to prove her authenticity. But it’s very difficult to do both, and do both publically. It’s even more difficult to prove yourself, when there’s another girl offering the exact same product.

It’s been an intriguing battle, a war of the roses, say, where the non-elite offered other newbs a peek behind-the-scenes, while the elite sat back, plotted, knowing well that one day, the foam of what these bloggers offered would stop frothing. Knowing that they could offer their own peek behind the curtain, in turn dropping the curtain on the bloggers.

While some of the bloggers were candid, and courageous (snapping photos!), most were not highly skilled. They served a purpose, and the world is moving on in the harsh way that it does. For, in all their pomp and unearned circumstance, bloggers exposed fashion to life, but they in turn, became terribly exposed to life. Over-exposed.

War is like chess; and in fashion, to corner the Queen you better plan ten high-heeled steps ahead, or be prepared to lose. And fashion bloggers, despite their meteoric rise, were never embraced; they were tolerated.

Anna addressed this almost four years ago to the day. On April 20th, 2010 she spoke at the Pratt Institute and had the following to say about fashion bloggers:

I think what’s interesting to us with this new phenomenon that “everyone’s a fashion editor, everyone’s a fashion writer’ is that all of that actually helps Vogue, because we have access and the understanding of fashion that, forgive me, but maybe some bloggers and some of the newcomers to this world have a little bit less experience of, but as I said, the more the merrier. We embrace it.

She embraced their nondescript influence, both mutable and vague, while insinuating that they were never to synthesize with the editors.

She deemed them un-wearable from the start.

Now editors speak of bloggers the way vintners might speak of wine: “The very great ones need time to develop.” And there are “great” ones—the girls who will succeed, and who have turned their blogging into something different. But just as fashion’s upper-crust once turned their backs on polyester, so they now are turning on bloggers. Off in search of a better bottle and deeming the last five years, “unwearable.”

The hammer has fallen. Where it landed is yet to be seen.

 

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