"Halston Sees Flying Saucers!"
With headlines like that (February 13, 1978), who needs context? Context would spoil everything. For the record, Halston was seeing a round bias cut that season—not Martian emissaries.
In 100 years, WWD has never been in the business of actually covering planetary invasions—although you wouldn’t know it by some of the designers we’ve featured. If the planet is ever attacked by invaders though, WWD will be there with a Page One review of their battle garb. We’ve covered everything else, from New Look to Nouvelle Society, Mod to The Mob, Eleanor Roosevelt to Michelle Obama, Ralph to Rei, labor abuse, politics, ding-a-ling celebrities to the Ladies Who Lunch. This miraculous little newspaper is one long 10-decade continuum that has and continues to illustrate the interdependence of past and present. The characters may change and the seasons may pass, but the plot plows on, a drama a day. Make that a melodrama a day—after all, this is the fashion business we cover, a business that coerces extremes and often takes a comic turn. Connections are everywhere between what was and what is.
What, for example, would Paul Poiret make of Lady Gaga? Plenty. Poiret was modern fashion’s first wild man, of free-form shapes and scandalous Turkish trousers. He was the first designer WWD treated as a star. He was high-minded, proclaiming to the paper in 1913: “I am not commercial. I am an artist.… Every woman must discover her own individuality. The majority of women follow a single thought in dress…and it is most extraordinary to find in women a desire to be original or distinct.”
Cue Lady Gaga, imploring WWD in 2007: “More sequins, more spandex, yes, please.” Poiret and Gaga would understand one another. Granted, Monsieur would need smelling salts after seeing Gaga’s hyper-sexualized smocks, derriere displays or cured-meat ensembles. She fits his bill for “distinct,” although Poiret probably didn’t contemplate the draping attributes of prosciutto.
These two make beautiful bookends in our package of 100 Remarkable Moments from WWD’s history—Poiret is number 3 and Gaga number 92. Poiret fell, the paper reported, as quickly as he ascended. He spent his later years “on the dole in England…or living in a madhouse.”
As for beginnings, WWD was first to the Lady Gaga party, putting a then-unknown popster parading around in her undies at the Lollapalooza festival on its front page. “I’m into theatrics,” she said. “Every morning I like to look fabulous. I like to pretend I’m famous.”
If it happened in fashion, WWD was there. In this issue we focus on 100 of the hundreds of thousands of stories and images reported over the years, dug out by a tenacious, creative staff that simply won’t quit. Some stories couldn’t be ignored: the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Jackie Kennedy, Capote’s Black and White Ball, Studio 54, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, grunge, punk, Saint Laurent, supermodels, New Media. For these there were two core newsroom codes at work through the years: Get the story. Be first.