Critical Mess

The New York Times' Cathy Horyn.

In her recent column for V Magazine, Lady Gaga blasted the New York Times’ Cathy Horyn, the veteran fashion writer who honed her rhetoric at The Washington Post in the ’90s. Gaga, whining like a kid, accused Horyn of “Extreme Critic Fundamentalism,” aka “negative” journalism practiced by, you know, serious critics. Gaga asked, “Why have we decided that one person’s opinion matters more than anyone else’s?” To me, that’s obvious: Critics know more than us.

W Magazine just profiled big critics such as Horyn, Hilary Alexander of Britain’s Telegraph and Robin Givhan, who recently left The Post to join Newsweek. These women know fashion like diplomats know languages. They’re fluent in couture, cuts and history. They sense whether a secretary of state’s high-heeled boots will become iconic. (Givhan’s 2005 story on Condoleezza Rice’s “commanding clothes” effectively won her a Pulitzer.)

It’s Paris Fashion Week, and the sartorial sages are scribbling in the front rows, even if celebs ask, “Who cares?” I care; it affects what I’ll wear later. Store buyers care. And D.C. women care, unless they want Gaga picking out their spring wardrobes.

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