Am I a peacock? That’s what I’d LOVE to ask Suzy Menkes. I have a Vivienne Westwood Anglomania oversized T-shirt dress with a massive teddy bear printed on the front that I wear over jeans. Inevitably I get ‘papped’ if I chose to wear it over fashion week, however it is part of my ‘normal’ wardrobe. And I have a blog. Does this make me a peacock?
There’s been a backlash to Menkes’ ‘The Circus of Fashion’
piece. She knew what she was doing. She was probably told or asked to write the piece, ticking it off her ‘feature check list’. Just like Liz Jones – though I daren’t compare the two writers – they have to be seen
commenting on certain topics. Getting a reaction is great journalism after all. What makes me laugh though is that just like Jones, Menkes is about, oooo, erm, six years too late to this particular party (Jones wrote a feature at the end of last year about how FANTASTIC eBay is, that she couldn’t believe it existed. Laughably late). Sorry love, some of us have been tapping away at our keyboards and sometimes, yes, actually getting paid for it for years.
It seems as the world changes, as industries, companies, brands, newspapers, heck even Queen Elizabeth II take themselves online, Suzy Menkes is unashamedly sticking to the 1990s. It sounds to me like she’s not on modernisation’s side. It is a bit strange: for someone so engrossed in the fashion industry, who talks to the CEOs of the super brands and designers themselves, surely she has seen and heard and come to realise that turning digital is actually – shock horror – a good thing?
There has been a massive surge in these so called ‘peacocks’, parading outside the shows during fashion week. They are, to be blunt, quite irritating. Sticking Barbie heads to your shoulder pads is NOT fashion. Covering your face with a gimp mask and being led round Somerset House just makes you look like a tit (I kid you not, I saw this last week). Yes, it will get the street paps whipped up into a frenzy, like a school of hungry piranhas, but ask that girl or guy if she/he has a blog and they’ll probably tell you “NO”. Ask them what show tickets they have and they’ll probably tell you “NONE”.
My point is that these people are those who actually don’t have blogs. Suzy is wrong in her judgement on this one. They haven’t been spilling out their thoughts, opinions and expertise online for years. They haven’t earned the right to cover the collections for anyone, be it online or print. These people are nowhere to be seen on the fashion circuit apart from two weeks in the year, posing on the grounds of Somerset House. These people have crawled out from underneath their marabou-fringed rocks to have their 15 seconds of fame in front of the cameras. Maybe they should stop letting the street style photographers in? Maybe it’s their flashing bulb encouragement that keeps the peacocks parading?
To bung all bloggers in the same knock-off Celine tote is totally unfair too. Some of us – me included – are trained journalists. I have an NCTJ diploma, as do other blogger friends. We’ve done our unpaid work experience time at publications and gone on to work at other high profile magazines or newspapers, freelance or full time. It just so happens that the online world exploded massively a few years ago, and like any normal human, you follow the money and try to carve a niche for yourself. Just like Suzy has.
There are blogs now that garner more traffic than readership figures of some print publications. Susie Bubble or The Man Repeller for instance. To snub these sites is just plain short-sightedness. If a brand wants a high profile blogger to write about a new collection, or have them photograph themselves in it, and they ‘gift’ said blogger a couple of pieces as an incentive for the time they have invested and for the effective coverage that is potentially seen by hundreds of thousands of eyeballs, who cares? It’s a lovely, gorgeous, fabulous side effect of writing a blog. And all part of an industry modernising. Maybe Suzy is just jealous? Jealous that Versace or D&G won’t gift her anything? Who knows. I say leave Ms Bubble and Mrs Man Repeller alone. They are doing their job, and very well too.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that although Suzy Menkes makes her living from hardcore, old school show report reviews, as well as her other meatier writing, the fashion industry isn’t JUST about this type of journalism anymore. Long gone are the days of FROWs full with editors scribbling their short hand squiggles onto their pads. It’s now a Saturday or two and some bloggers, as well as the editors, on the front, second or third rows, with iPads. Why? Because the label gets coverage from these people! The beauty of a new online era is that anyone can have their own voice without a scary editor breathing down their necks. If these people are trained writers, even better. They are taken seriously. They are invited to shows. They may well “… start a critical conversation that can spread virally.” Suzy might just have to get over this.
Lastly, If Suzy has a problem with the way Anna Dello Russo dresses, I suggest a publication pitches this idea to Ms Menkes: dress up as a ‘peacock’ for the day, in head-to-toe coloured feathers, and have a funny, tongue-in-cheek feature written about your experience, with some street style pictures obviously. Then, and only then, might we, the blogosphere, take you ‘seriously’.
Sorry for the rant, lovely readers.