Anna Wintour Totally Gets Popular Culture

Given the surge of backlash against fashion bloggers in recent months by self-appointed gatekeepers like Anne Slowey, Joe Zee, Simon Doonan, among many others, I was gobsmacked by Anna Wintour’s rather positive comments on the subject at the Pratt Institute last night.

We love as much coverage of fashion as possible. We don’t care at all where it comes from, and we embrace bloggers and video and social networking, and anyone that’s talking about fashion is a good thing . . . what’s interesting to us with this new phenomenon that ‘everyone’s a fashion editor, everyone’s a fashion writer’ is that all of that actually helps Vogue.

To be sure, Wintour is not putting forth a populist perspective on bloggers nor is she really advocating the democratization of fashion writing. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. What I find fascinating (and frankly, impressive) is her clarity about the assimilative operations of popular culture within the context of consumer capitalism. While the gatekeepers continue to hand-wring and carp about the devaluation of professional fashion journalism by amateur bloggers, Wintour understands that, as with many marginal practices and bodies throughout the history of commercial culture,  fashion blogging is being absorbed and incorporated into the mainstream. Historically, this absorption and incorporation has been the process by which mainstream institutions of popular culture maintain, secure, and expand their dominance. The assimilation and commodification of fashion blogging (which unevenly benefits some bloggers) works to contain the threat of difference through a depoliticized mode of liberal tolerance and pluralism. As such, it is to the economic and cultural advantage of fashion stalwarts to be magnanimous about fashion bloggers.

And anyway, many bloggers blog not because they want to overthrow the powerhouses of the fashion industry – they want in.

from BryanBoy's post (30 Oct. 2009) "Anna Worshipper Part 3"

5 Comments

Filed under FASHION 2.0

5 responses to “Anna Wintour Totally Gets Popular Culture

  1. Great post. As usual, what is outside of fashion eventually becomes in fashion.

  2. Hey, this reminds me of a question I had that you two might be able to answer. In my Intro to Gender Studies class, we were talking about America’s Next Top Model and RuPaul’s Drag Race. I had some clips that matched our readings on how ANTM reflects neoliberal ideologies, and I showed a clip from this season to see how the current one compares to the one in the article. While watching the current clip, it hit me. Is Andre Leon Talley the man upon whom Stanley Tucci’s character from Devil Wears Prada is based? I asked because I thought so, and I wondered if the change to Stanley Tucci was meant to erase the image of the large, flamboyant black gay man, if producers thought it would be easier to accept an actor who is known for being traditionally masculine (I’m thinking of all those shirtless photos of him when he was on Broadway and all the comments about how muscular he is). If it’s not based on him, argument disproven. If it is based on him, then why erase so much of his identity when the point of Streep’s character was to reflect the “real” Wintour?

    • minh-ha t. pham

      hm . . . i hadn’t heard that Tucci’s character was based on ALT but then again, i’ve not kept up on the Devil Wears Prada backstory. it makes sense that it might be since their roles are so similar though – sorry i couldn’t be more help on this!

  3. Oh, no, that’s a help! I often wonder if I am reading too much into things. My students sure think I do! But the thought just hit me while watching ANTM. I might do some more digging.

  4. I so heart you for this post.

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