One of the most dynamic — and, yes, polarizing — figures in fashion media has died. John Fairchild, the former editor and publisher of Women's Wear Daily and founder of W, died Friday at the age of 87, The New York Times reports.
As the grandchild of Fairchild Publications founder Edmund Fairchild, the late media tycoon was credited with transforming WWD from a trade newspaper to an essential everyday read for the fashion world. He founded W in 1972, writing a column under the nom de plume Countess Louise J. Esterhazy.
Though he retired nearly 20 years ago, Fairchild left an indelible imprint on both the fashion and media scenes. According to the Times, his taste for creating buzz predated modern-day paparazzi: The publisher used to arrange for photographers to snap socialites outside their favorite restaurants. He was also notorious for carrying grudges and lashing out at those who fell out of his favor — Valentino among them. Fairchild, of course, had a way with words. Few people could speak of getting "bombed" on Champagne with Coco Chanel, as he told Vanity Fair, or how "the majority of women on the Best Dressed List bore me to death,” as he confessed to Town & Country. Another gem, from the Wall Street Journal circa 1977? “When people say that fashion is an art I get hysterical," Fairchild once said. "Women look more beautiful without any clothes...Fashion is a thing like a delicious meal to make a woman look and feel better. But it’s only an accessory. People get carried away with it.” Here's to verbosity, controversy, living large, and calling it like you see it. Rest in peace.