Photo: David Fisher/REX USA.
In her debut column for British Vogue, Suzy Menkes comes out swinging at fashion's "Bitch Brigade." The former style editor of The International New York Times (formerly The International Herald Tribune) first recognized the industry's reputation of "glossy nastiness" on the set of the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous in the mid-nineties. Invited to cameo, Menkes recounts that she "arrived…to find [actress] Joanna Lumley playing super-bitch, screaming at the studio hairdresser. She was boiling with rage as he struggled to copy my quiff on her... And, she was even more furious when her hairstyle fell apart in the front row, whereas mine survived the filming." The runway-show scene Menkes is referring to sees the composed star taking notes and then dashing off as Lumley howls, "Help me, you bitch!"
Soon, the Internet killed the television star and became the enabler of 140-character fashion-related missives. Menkes remarks that the "bitches have the advantage of speed," regarding what she elsewhere refers to as a one-way conversation by "keyboard, webcam, or Twitter feed." Plus, the public loves it. "You only have to look at TMZ and the responses to its 'we gotta ask' questions to [realize] that bitchiness is a sugar rush for readers." (Hold the iPhone: Menkes trolls TMZ? Does she have thoughts on Solange/Jay Z elevator-gate?) "And, all those increasingly torrid comments," she continues, "are in phase with the opportunities that digital and social media have created." Everybody knows you don't read the comments!
It's easy – too easy, really – to browse the blogosphere, Twitter, and/or TMZ, and conclude the Fashion Internet sucks. But, the World Wide Web allows established writers like Menkes, as well as newbies with insight (rewind to the Great Blogger Renaissance of 2009), to reach a broader audience. Fashion and the digital space make fantastic bedfellows. What were we doing before we could tweet at designers, watch livestreams of the Chanel Couture catwalk at 4:30 a.m. EST, or bag a CFDA Award for Excellence in Instagram? All of this promotes an informed community, or a Fully Briefed Brigade. So, while we certainly agree with the editor's "no bitching" mantra, we hope she eases up on the hate. The 'net contains many nice things, like kittens. Tons of kittens.