A food-centric feud of sorts between New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn and design Oscar de la Renta erupted in September 2012 when Horyn wrote, “Mr. de la Renta is far more a hot dog than an éminence grise of American fashion.” As The Cut’s Hillary Moss noted, Horyn “meant it in the ‘40s movie exclamation’ way, and was not referring to an actual ballpark refreshment.”
Nonetheless, in response to Horyn’s review, de la Renta, took out a full-page ad in WWD calling the critic a “stale hamburger.” The full text of de la Renta’s vengeful response is as follows:
September 13, 2012
This year I celebrated my 80th birthday. With pride, I can say that for more than 50 of those years I have been privileged to work in a profession that I deeply love, one that has given me tremendous pleasure. I have always considered that my role as a designer and as a great admirer of women has always been to make a woman look and feel her very best.
I respect and accept criticism because in many ways it does help us develop; I try to make my work better each time. What I do not accept is when criticism is personal. If you have the right to call me a hot dog why do I not have the right to call you a stale 3-day old hamburger? My advice to you is to abstain from personal criticism. Professionals criticize the clothes, not the people.
Oscar de la Renta
In response to that, Horyn told fashion site, Fashionologie, “I used the term in a professional context, as someone showing off his tricks, like a surfer,” adding, “I thought an ad was a little over-the-top.” She further clarified her remarks to the Times’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, saying, “Oscar clearly misunderstood. I meant to say he’s a cool guy who’s showing off his tricks.”
As for who took sides: Horyn’s editor, Stuart Emmrich, took her side, writing:” Ironically, I know that Cathy feels she actually gave Oscar a pretty good review, and, in fact, felt that the term ‘hot dog’ was meant to convey showman, and wasn’t meant derisively. But sometimes words take on different meanings for those who are being written about than the ones who are doing the writing.”
Mr. de la Renta seemed eager to put the whole thing in the past – after he posted the open letter, of course, selling WWD that Horyn will be invited back to his show next season. “I’m not going to make it that important.”