What does it take to ruffle a blogger's feathers? We're sensitive, so it doesn't take much. T Magazine recently published Suzy Menkes's article “The Circus of Fashion” about the peacocking phenomenon at Fashion Week (dressing outlandishly for the purpose of getting photographed by street style photographers) and shortly after came Leandra Medine's rebuttal, “Blog is a Dirty Word.” In it, she admits that while Menkes to be right on some levels, it's unfair to paint all bloggers with the same fame-whoring brush.
…since when has complaining about something that's already been complained about for years made for a compelling article?
Admittedly, it took me time to put my feelings together as to why Menkes' piece bothered me so much. I was juggling work on my website, phone calls with hosting companies, and sorting out things with my accountant before I could really sit down and think about what she said.
First off, she is right: Fashion Week has become a circus. However, since when has complaining about something that's been complained about for years made for a compelling article?
Even if Menkes had made this “Fashion Circus” argument six months ago when things were getting crazy…But no, this Fashion Week was basically a snooze-fest in terms of circusness.
Menkes could have made this “Fashion Circus” argument six months ago, when things were reaching a fever pitch. At that time, Amy Odell cleverly pointed out how social media tainted Fashion Week, and the New York Times sloppily published fake accounts of bloggers getting paid to wear clothes for the purpose of getting photographed by street style photographers. Comparatively, this Fashion Week was basically a snooze-fest in terms of circusness, and The New York Times even said so in their “On The Runway” blog. On Monday, IFB noted how bored blog readers were with Fashion Week — so why all the hubbub six months late?
The History of Peacocking at Fashion Week
The history of peacocking at Fashion Shows goes back a few years (as does the complaining), probably more, but I need more time to dig up examples. Imran Amed famously coined the phrase “Blogger's Walk” in March of 2011 noting how street style photographers had become more like paparazzi in the quest for selling images for up to $1000. Later that year, Fashionista noted how editors were stepping up their outfits in their Octover 2011 piece, “All Eyes on The Editor…”
“There’s definitely more of a feeling of wanting to look as cute as possible,” Teen Vogue‘s Laurel Pantin told [Fashionista]. “If your photo is circulating the internet you definitely want it to be a good shot!”
Again, I know there history of the drama goes back further. Just give me time and I'll give you an example of staircase whit….
Yes, there are bloggers out there dressing up to get photographed, but a lot of the people peacocking (Michelle Harper, I'm looking at you) are not bloggers. Miroslava Duma is ultra famous on the street style circuit, but again, not a blogger. Anna Dello Russo, Olivia Palermo, Natalie Joos? All famous for something else. (Sure, they have blogs, but are not really considered to be bloggers by trade.)
So what does all this peacocking really get you? A second of internet fame? Maybe you do get famous on the Internet circuit, but what does that ultimately get you? Around 2008, a young art history student, Louise Ebel, became a street style darling and consequently started her blog Pandora which is moderately successful, but nowhere near the international fame achieved by bloggers like Style Bubble, Man Repeller, Bryan Boy and The Blonde Salad.
…what does peacocking really get you? A second of internet fame? …doesn't everyone know internet fame is the least useful kind of fame?
Either way, doesn't everyone know by now that Internet fame is the least useful kind of fame? You have to put in a lot more effort, and have a lot ingenuity – to make anything worth while out of Internet fame. It's this dedication which separates that peacocks from the super-bloggers.
So, Why Is Peacocking “News” Now?
Your guess is as good as mine. But with all the criticisms that bloggers face between being unable to form original ideas, to money grubbing, to fame whoring, it seems that the traditional media is merely stirring up the pot because they know we will respond. It's easy PR. I've yet to read a smart and factual article on the state of the fashion blogosphere posted in the traditional media without a heavy dose of skepticism and opinion injected. Most of the articles that make it into the annals of traditional press are out of touch, like the “Circus of Fashion” piece by Menkes. At this point, I don't care if it's ugly or beautiful. As long as the traditional press can spit out something real, I'll be happy.
I've yet to read a smart and factual article on the state of the fashion blogosphere posted in the traditional media without a heavy dose of skepticism and opinion.
Blogging and traditional media are maturing in the digital space. It's easy to see that journalists are injecting their own opinions to sensationalize their pieces to make them more sharable and web-friendly. Bloggers are stepping up their game in adopting tried-and-true practices in publishing to increase their credibility. Two things I would like to see more of in this brave new world are research and clear examples. (It's never been easier to do this, by the way.)
Opinion, whether it comes from bloggers or journalists gets tedious when it's not original or well-researched. Lazy opinions are not even worth the pixels they take up on the screen. My hopes are that the traditional press stops resting on their laurels of credibility and sets examples as to how publishing should evolve in the digital age. Because lord knows a girl who failed English class (twice) in high school and has never written a word for any printed publication can't possibly do it without someone or something to look up to.
(Menkes in 2010)
Perhaps I just expected more from Menkes. In 2010, she seemed optimistic about blogging, as stated in a video (for which I was also quoted) “A good blogger,” she says, “can really take all sorts of elements and use them both in words and pictures and make a strong statement.” I would have never have expected her to make such a tired observation, with no real solution or examination. Nor would I expect her try to pass it off as an article, when really, it was not any different from an eloquently worded blog post.
[Image by Style and the City]