Cathy Horyn has called Snooki a “turnip”; wrote this season that Alexander Wang is “not a great designer”; and had this to say about Fashion’s Night Out, Vogue’s answer to economic stimulus that requires stores to throw special events to lure people in like dehydrated fish on a designated night in late summer:
“I hope it doesn’t go on,” she says, a week later, seated at a café on the Upper West Side in between the fall fashion shows. “I don’t want it to continue You know, we’re a nation of shoppers. That’s how people spend their time, shopping online, shopping in stores, acquiring. And I feel like we perpetuate that with Fashion’s Night Out. What are you really celebrating? Not art or great books. You’re celebrating shopping.”
She spends a good amount of space in her Daily Beast profile defending these criticisms. Of Snooki she says, “I described her as a silhouette and an icon by virtue of her pouf and her body shape. I’ve acknowledged her and her impact. But am I going to be tough with her? Yeah.” And of Alexander Wang: “I don’t think that’s any different than Christopher Hitchens talking about Mother Teresa.” She adds:
“With Alexander, he’s a smart kid, I admire the business that he’s built, but you have to be critical of what he’s done. You can’t just say ‘oh well, he’s young and he’s working hard, he’s putting a product on the runway.’ I found that show boring. I may not have found other shows boring, but I found that one boring.”
Horyn says she’s tough on people because she wants them to be amazing at what they do. “We have standards,” she said referring to herself and her predecessor at the Times, Amy Spindler. “We want people to be not just good but very good. And I can be tough on people, sometimes too tough, especially with the most creative. I once called one of Tom Ford’s collections freakish and ugly.” But Horyn will acknowledge where her critiques missed the point, such as when she quoted an anonymous stylist as saying of Christina Hendricks’s infamous Golden Globes dress, “You don’t put a big girl in a big dress.” Horyn now says she didn’t intend to comment on Hendricks’s weight:
“She’s a lovely girl,” Horyn says. “I should have stepped back and explained what that person meant. It wasn’t about Christina’s figure. It’s about what looks best.”
But Horyn might not be so shocking if she critiqued something other than fashion, like food or movies. No one wants a food critic to tell them a slice of pizza was delicious when it was actually a soggy waste of calories, or a film critic to say Sex and the City 2 was phenomenal in a good way when it may have been phenomenal in different ways entirely. In fashion, readers and those being written about expect sunshine and daisies and unquestioned Botox. People love reading Cathy Horyn because she’s not afraid to rain on any display of fabulous or call fake things fake when most people would ignore the fact. Besides, she has lots of nice things to say about people, too! They’re just not as noteworthy because so many fashion people auto-fawn over everything, rather than auto-question it.
Fashion’s Most Feared Critic [Daily Beast]