You may not have heard of Stephen Fried, but apparently we owe him a lot--everything, in fact, when it comes to our name. Well, according to him anyway.
In an Atlantic article titled 'I Apologize for Inventing the Word 'Fashionista' 20 Years Ago,' Fried writes:
"Twenty years ago, I apparently changed language forever. I published a book that unleashed upon an unsuspecting public a single word of terrifying power and controversy. That word is 'fashionista.'"
According to Fried, the word 'fashionista' first appeared in his 1993 biography of the late Gia Carangi, Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia.
"There was no simple way to refer to all the people at a sitting for a magazine photo or print ad," explains Fried. "I got tired of listing photographers, fashion editors, art directors, hairstylists, makeup artists, all their assistants, and models as the small army of people who descended on the scene."
And so he invented the word 'fashionista'--apparently a play on the 70s and 80s "coverage of Sandanistas (and a lot of '–ista' jokes among my mag writer friends.)"
The word appeared four times in his book, and it was not an immediate hit. In Fried's own words, New York Times book reviewer Carol Kramer, who panned his book, "bitch-slapped me for 'fashionista,' saying 'he makes up corny labels, too.'"
Well, corny or not, 'fashionista' did catch on, eventually being inducted into the OED in 1999, prompting a front page New York Times article in which industry insiders explained what the word meant. Donatella Versace was quoted as saying "I am a fashionista and proud of it."
The official definition eventually came to read: "a person employed in the creation or promotion of high fashion, such as a designer, photographer, model, fashion writer, etc. Also: a devotee of the fashion industry; a wearer of high-fashion clothing." Also: This website.