Break out the bubbly: This January, Fashionista turns 10! We know, we can hardly believe it ourselves. To celebrate the place where so many of us got our start in the industry, we'll be taking a look back on all the things that make Fashionista one of our favorite fashion sites out there (not that we're biased!).
WHICH former Fashionista editor was once bribed to take down a semi-sexually explicit blind item by someone who thought it was about her?
As we've been celebrating our 10th anniversary this week by speaking with some of this site's previous editors, a common theme has emerged and that's how much and how quickly Fashionista, and the online fashion media landscape as a whole, has changed.
In the early days, publicists and brands did not give as much thought to how news was released and Fashionista editors would often "hear" about certain developments — whether it was a designer/mass retailer collaboration or an upcoming magazine cover — from, say, an intern pal, a print editor with the long-lead scoop, or in some instances even from excitable spies within the company that we didn't actually know. Legitimate news that we felt confident was accurate (but that the company it was about wasn't, er, "ready" to announce) would be filed under our "Rumor Mill" column, while the truly juicy, more gossipy items — from editor-on-assistant violence to secret romantic entanglements — made up our "Love Is Blind" blind items column.
This column was both prolific and incendiary, often lifting the veil on the darker side of the fashion industry — from drugs and partying to prenups and borderline abusive employers. We decided it would be fun to go through the archives and dig up some of the juiciest, and funniest, ones. I also called up Faran to discuss the column's origin, well-protected sources and occasional (but rare) blowback.
We also asked her to reveal some of the subjects of these items, but since there's no expiration date on protecting your sources, we have to keep most of them to ourselves.
Faran got the inspiration from Page Six's blind items. "It was always really fun when you knew them; there was a great sense of satisfaction," she said, so she decided to start a fashion-specific version as one of Fashionista's first columns. Her sources varied, but the column largely owed to her preternatural ability to go out — and stay out late — nearly every night of the week. (Her secret? Not drinking.) The people she was partying with — hip girls and guys involved with, or adjacent to, the fashion world — were happy to tell her things, especially around 2 a.m. when they were drunk (at a minimum). People would also call her because they wanted some detrimental aspect of their company or a person they worked with to get out in the open (without incriminating themselves, of course). "It was almost like people were using them as a warning, like, 'stop doing drugs!'"
As far as the feedback she got, Faran said blowback was rare, and people sometimes even thank her for bringing problematic business practices to light. But the column did get pretty gossipy, and there were some direct and indirect consequences. One instance of negative feedback revolved around a post about the "actor who had a shoe fetish and begged shoe publicists to perform sexual acts with their shoe samples," explains Faran. After she posted the item, a publicist (not the one she was referring to) whom she didn't know called her and begged her to take it down. "She was so scared she tried to bribe me, she said, 'I’ll give you a thousand-dollar credit' [to the brand she rep'd]." Faran explained that there were a lot of shoe publicists involved and no one would know it was about her, and she calmed down.
The more indirect consequence was that, for some, Faran became difficult to trust. "[People were] really worried that everything they said was a potential news item." Even after she left Fashionista, she says companies would hand her an NDR when she walked in for a press preview. After working hard to regain the trust of certain friends and colleagues, Faran says she wouldn't make blind items a part of her journalistic repertoire today.
But 10 years later, these blind items are little more than a fun trip down memory lane. Scroll through for 21 of our favorites, and feel free to start guessing in the comments.
Homepage photo: The CW