Veteran critic Cathy Horyn has published a blurb about Yeezy Season 2. This is interesting because the review is arguably much more telling of Horyn and the modern state of fashion “journalism” and fashion “criticism” than about rapper Kanye West’s latest foray into fashion design. Horyn and a relatively small circle of other writers are known for their no non-sense objectivity in an industry rife with “critics” who are afraid to either alienate themselves (and future job prospects?) by telling the truth, who are faced with the very real possibility of losing advertising funds from big accounts, or who would gladly accept gifts in exchange for a slew of positively-skewed printed words.
With this in mind, a not insignificant number of fashion show reviews consist of frivolous chatter that either “yes-s” designers when they should be “no-ed” or that goes out of its way to avoid identifying and dissecting any weaknesses in a collection (sometimes by placing a disproportionate amount of focus on the set, or the music, the famous front row or the designer’s inspiration that season, in lieu of actually delving into the garments that went down the runway). No collection is perfect. That is OK! And yet, the calculated agendas of many mainstream publications, websites and blogs, etc. and/or the lack of confidence of individual writers to go against the current shields you from ever knowing that. This is what we have come to call fashion criticism.
Now do not get me wrong; there are some extraordinarily talented critics out there – both young and more established. Horyn quite obviously falls into this camp. But on the same note, many are about as able of journalists as West is a designer. This review and Horyn’s others serve as a reminder of this fact. What seems to set Horyn apart most distinctly is her dedication to her craft above all else. She is not afraid to be uninvited to shows. This happened when she wrote a strongly-worded review of Hedi Slimane’s debut collection for YSL. She is not afraid to be called a “three day-old hamburger.”
This happened when she gave the late Oscar de la Renta an honest appraisal. And the list of instances like these goes on. For this, she is to be admired. She is brave. She is unaffected. She is a valuable source of thoughtful and objective commentary. She is a gem in the fashion industry. You likely already know this, but a reminder never hurts.
But I digress. Here is some of what the industry’s most recognized critic had to say …
Yeezy Season 2 was kind of amusing. Again, West worked with the performance artist Vanessa Beecroft, and again, he showed hoodies, baggy pants, and beige under-things, as if time these past six months had stood still […] A line of models appeared, followed by a second and a third, all of them in tights or leggings or stretch shorts and tops that looked a lot like Spanx.
The military conceit was apt, given the mind-lock that Kanye has managed to put on the fashion world. This second round of drab, broken-down basics proved he can’t be taken seriously as a designer, but nevertheless many people in fashion do seem to take West seriously — they keep showing up expectantly for his performances — and that makes them fools. Because they wouldn’t bother with this stuff if it were offered by an unknown, and if it’s the spectacle they seek, it changes as little as the clothes.