A rare bit of advice for aspiring fashion journos from New York Times' fashion critic Cathy Horyn: Bone up on your reporting skills and stop fretting about getting into the shows.
In this video for Nowness, created by Dustin Lynn, we get a rare glimpse at Horyn studio visit, this one at Alexander McQueen's Paris atelier with creative director Sarah Burton. The two industry heavies have a candid and fascinating chat about the industry, which they agree, is changing and not necessarily in a good way. "So many people want to be the designer now," Burton says. "What I find quite sad is that you can't find many pattern cutters, many people who want to do the craft [of making clothing.]" She suggests folks aspiring to design are more interested in the fame that goes along with being a "designer" rather than the love of the craft of making clothes.
Horyn thinks aspiring fashion writers have gotten off track too. She thinks young writers worry too much about getting invited to the shows, when they should be doing actual reporting. "I tell young people that you can be a really good reporter...You don't need to go to the shows per se, but start talking to people and find out what's going on in the houses. Be a really good Bob Woodward of the fashion world. And they wonder, what if I don't get invited to the show? And I'm like, it's not about that. You want to have information that nobody else has. Those are reporting skills."
Horyn's right: All you need to do is take a look at the Spring 2012 runway reviews to see that they're mostly all positive, if not downright glowing. Perhaps it's because with the advent of the internet the fashion industry feels smaller (even if it is growing), or perhaps it's editorial's dependence on advertisers but, whatever it is, it does appear that when it comes to reviewing collections, fashion journalists are shying away from giving negative criticisms or breaking unsavory news, in fear that next season they won't be invited back. Like Burton's lost pattern-cutters, it seems many aspiring young writers are more motivated by the glory, rather than the work.
Not Horyn, though. The veteran journalist never hesitates to give her critical opinion, which, after 25 years in the industry is more often than not astute (if scathing). After all, this is the woman who Armani once banned from attending their shows because of a negative review she gave. Yet, she's also one of the most respected journalists in the industry (and perhaps, sadly, a dying breed) which is why aspiring fashion writers should heed her advice.