It's no secret that we love Cathy Horyn, the New York Times' fashion critic. Her blunt, sometimes caustic reviews are the antithesis of advertiser-driven praise that you'll find in the pages of most sleek glossies. Her job at The Times is to connect fashion to the culture at large, and look beyond the obvious trend-spotting. And while Jennifer Lopez or Leigh Lezark or Janet Jackson may be sitting front row, we can assure you that Cathy is too, and she's seen more front rows than all of those famous faces combined.
The Daily Beast's Jacob Bernstein caught up with the writer over New York Fashion Week and did a really thorough and thoughtful profile of the controversial writer. He picks up on the fact that, like many famous critics, her opinions oft directly contradict those of her colleagues, and that she tends to favor a few selected few (if anyone knows her work, you'll know that she champions Raf Simons, Karl Lagerfeld and Nicholas Ghesqiere) pretty consistantly, and she particularly harsh with others (we're looking at you, Ricardo Tisci). Also interesting was that Bernstein couldn't get much comment from other fashion folks on Cathy's work and role in the industry. It seems, that although some people suggested that fashion criticism is pointless, antiquated or pseudo-intellectual nonsense, no one was willing to thrown down the gauntlet and call Cathy out. Though some people don't think anyone reads fashion reviews doesn't mean they want to get a bad one.
Bernstein also gets brownie points for dropping juicy pearls of knowledge, like the fact that she has a son and is dating the much older (and richer) Art Ortenberg, even calls her out for some of her more -- um -- ambiguous turns of phrase:
Not that her criticisms are always easy to make sense of. One of the favorite pastimes of fashionistas is reading aloud from Cathy Horyn and asking "what does this even mean?" Take a review from the current fashion season: "If irony is the thread that runs through modern fashion, then the Chanel cardigan jacket is the eye of the needle."
"I think her sentences are like a series of poses. It's as if she's walking down the runway as she's writing," said Bob Colacello, who covers society and culture for Vanity Fair. "She's intelligent, but I think she's trying to make something out of fashion that it isn't."
Some pretty feisty words there, especially considering that Horyn is a Vanity Fair alum. Regardless, the article is a much interesting read on a major cultural force in the fashion industry who rarely gets her time in the spotlight.