Cathy Horyn, The New York Times’s famed chief fashion critic (and Raf Simons’ biggest fan), is retiring, the paper announced today. Horyn, who has been with The Times since 1998 and has been in her current position since 1999, is leaving to spend more time with her ailing partner, Art Ortenberg.
Horyn, 57, has been recognized for her deep knowledge of the fashion industry and at times, unpopular honesty. In July 2004, she sparked the feud (that is still ongoing, as indicated by her lack of invitations to Saint Laurent shows since Hedi Slimane’s return) between herself and Hedi Slimane, when she reviewed Raf Simons’ collection and wrote: “Beginning with the skinny suits that made his reputation nearly a decade ago and made a Hedi Slimane possible, Mr. Simons gave a real glimpse of the future — heightened by the solemn descent of the models on an escalator and the music of Vangelis.” More to come on this in a minute.
In February 2007, she devoted a piece to the “dealmaker” of an editor in chief, Anna Wintour, in which Horyn wrote: “For as much as Ms. Wintour, 57, is scrutinized, her deal-making within the fashion industry is one activity that has received scant attention. In recent years she has gone beyond the editorial domain and involved herself in the placement of designers at fashion houses. Her efforts fall across a spectrum of involvement, from outright pitching the name of a person she likes to a chief executive, to putting her weight behind a pending decision, to effectively make a marriage.”
Some of her more controversial commentary has included her take on Kanye West on the heels of his second womenswear showing in Paris. She wrote: “[Kardashian] may finally ignite West’s fashion career, though it means the rest of us will have to hear from him what a design innovator he is.” She penned a review of Oscar de la Renta’s 2013 collection, including: “Mr. de la Renta is far more a hot dog than an éminence grise of American fashion.” And last but not least, her relationship with YSL-turned-Saint Laurent and its creative director Hedi Slimane. Of Slimane’s debut womenswear collection in 2012, Horyn wrote, “I expected more … Meanwhile, its competitors — Balenciaga, Dior, Givenchy, Celine, Lanvin — are having a terrific season.” As you probably know, this lead to quite a war of words between the two.
Prior to joining The New York Times, Horyn worked for Vanity Fair, The Washington Post and The Detroit News. In their memo to the newsroom, Ms. Abramson and Mr. Emmrich called Ms. Horyn, “the pre-eminent fashion critic of her generation and who has set an almost impossible standard for those who may follow.”