On Wednesday morning, I received the following text message from a friend of mine from college: "Have you seen this Rei Kawakubo thing?" At that moment, I had not — and, as someone who often writes about news for a living, I assumed the 73-year-old Comme des Garçons founder and designer had Done a Thing, as we Internetswomen say. Said friend then sent me a link to a column in the Observer titled "Elle on Earth," filed under the "Opinion" section.
"Put on your seat belt," the friend texted. "It's amazing."
Twitter revealed that "Elle on Earth" had caught the attention of many of those in our field — and with good reason. In 3,700-odd words, New York-based writer Jacques Hyzagi, who "hates fashion," pens a scathing, rambling takedown of Elle magazine after the publication allegedly butchered an interview he had conducted with industry doyenne Kawakubo. And what does Hyzagi do, but light up the Observer with a palm-to-forehead smackdown piece that this writer (as in, me) had to read twice to fully comprehend. The narrative feels as intimate and baffling as a 13-year-old's diary, all hormones and grandiose metaphors.
If you'd like to take the time to scan the full piece — an evening commute read, perhaps — be our guest. If not, we took it upon ourselves to extract the 10 craziest things Hyzagi discussed in "Elle on Earth," from antiquated Chinese execution methods to a man named Tony.
1. On his editor, Elle's longtime Fashion News Director, Anne Slowey:
My impression of Anne was that she was loud and tacky. I had heard that working with her was a mess akin to making a mule piss in a public bathroom.
Anne discarded the text I had written entirely but not before she stole its structures and plagiarized its ideas. Because she cannot write and is not very bright she succeeded, no small feat, in making a fascinating and revolutionary person such as Rei sound mediocre.
And, because why the hell not:
Although Anne had my phone she was sending these directives via CDG as if I was working for them and they were then relaying them to me by phone. I had more luck meeting that Hezbollah leader in downtown Beirut for an interview.
2. On models, a number of which he "dated":
Most of them in order to stay skeletal did coke in the 80's, ate sushi in the 90's and sweated on these yoga mats at the turn of the century before any of us did. They all worship Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha and spent their afternoons at the Rubin, which makes for easy break ups. They probably did more for Buddhism than the Dalai Lama in his Gucci loafers, all in the name of that size zero so searched after by designers who looove women. When I grew up, size zero was only spoken to in reference to the death camps.
3. On Anna Wintour reportedly not inviting Kawakubo to the Met Gala:
I wanted to talk about the Anna Wintour slight at the Met Ball and she told me everybody is sick and tired of fucking Anna Wintour.
4. On a man named Tony:
A friend and mentor of mine tried to launch his own line and even had one of his dresses in Barney's Uptown window. He was gay. He would hit on a friend of mine and I would tell him, Tony, the guy is straight. Straight to bed, he would fire right back. He was a poet, a beautiful loser like me. He ended up living in his bed in his mother's house in Brooklyn.
5. On the optimal vacation spot:
We left Paris and went to the south of France to write the piece that I had promised would be 10,000 words. The Riviera is the perfect place to make you forget what a schmuck you are.
6. On an ancient, particularly gruesome form of Chinese torture that was banned in 1905:
She was not in a position of power to outright kill the piece, since Robbie had originally commissioned it, but she was ready to let it die by Lingchi, a thousand cuts.
7. On an avant-garde art movement popularized in Europe in the early 20th century:
I told Anne that I see Rei as a Romantic from early 19th century, a time when painters started depicting fires, ruins, decay and painted people from the back in a rebuke to the sickening self-righteousness of the Enlightenment and by extension as a Dada trying to destroy art.
That's great I love it, she said, people are so fucking stupid nobody knows what Dada is.
8. On our trusted, hardworking co-workers:
We all know most of our colleagues at work are incompetent frauds but it is the smallest unexpected change in our routines that reveal how easy it would be for our collective inefficiency to bring about destruction—how close we are from complete collapse.
9. On commendable practices in the workplace:
Realizing I was dealing with a power angry maniac I called the meeting off and stood her up. Almost famous people have a tendency to act even more obnoxiously than the famous ones.
10. And finally, on Kawakubo herself:
She knows she is the most important designer alive and she plays the part down to her refusal to give interviews or have her photo taken, which I did anyway on my iPhone. Her work, even for someone like me who hates fashion, is breathtaking.
Reached for comment on the Observer piece, an Elle spokeswoman simply had this to say: "We always edit for clarity and concision."
You can read Hyzagi's revamped Kawakubo Elle piece — titled "Rei Kawakubo Never Meant to Start a Revolution," co-written by Slowey — here.