Memo Pad: Open Season... One More Title...

The great democratization of criticism promised by the Internet is in full swing, even on blogs run by major media organizations.

OPEN SEASON: The great democratization of criticism promised by the Internet is in full swing, even on blogs run by major media organizations. The New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn's mid-August review on her blog of the September Vogue was full of unenthused praise ("great," "informative and fun") followed by a criticism that the issue lacked "the offbeat and young....The looks shown in the issue convey a sense of authority and judgment, but the labels have a duty roster feel."

But that was nothing compared to the thousands of words of heated comments by readers that followed, many excoriating the magazine for being stale, out of touch, racist and elitist. "Cathy, why are you even reviewing [Vogue]?" wondered one reader. "Perhaps they should be reviewing you?" But another confessed that despite its misgivings, "I read it faithfully.... Vogue is Vogue. You know, if God let some typos into the Bible, you wouldn't stop reading it just cuz, would you?"

In a follow-up post last week that responded to some of her online buddies, Horyn delivered a rather backhanded compliment: "If I admire Anna Wintour for one thing, it is that she runs Vogue as she sees fi t."

A Vogue spokesman told WWD, "We're always very interested to hear what Cathy Horyn has to say, and in this case, her readers as well."

Horyn's Washington Post counterpart, Robin Givhan, also tackles the new fashion commentariat in the September issue of Harper's Bazaar. "Fashion has become like sports, with its own version of the Monday-morning quarterback," she writes. "Mostly, all the chatter is good for the industry. The average person, too often estranged from fashion, is taking ownership of it." She adds that given her job, "you'd think my initial reaction to the democratization of fashion criticism would be horror. How dare these self-proclaimed citizen journalists trespass on my turf? But no. I didn't protest. I launched my own show-season blog."

As Vogue prepares to launch its own Web site, that approach may be more relevant than ever. — Irin Carmon
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