clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Eleven Blistering Takedowns By Times Critic Cathy Horyn

New, 9 comments

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Yesterday's Daily Beast article on Cathy Horyn inspired us to dig up some of the controversial New York Times critic's unkindest cuts. Horyn has left a long and bloody trail behind her, fearlessly taking on everyone from Anna Wintour to poor innocent Sienna Miller. Below is a list of Horyn's most scathing comments, a "Greatest Hits" compilation if you will, beginning with an "Ouch, that kind of hurt" and culminating in a grand finale of "Oh no she didn't."

1.) In her July 2010 Paris Fashion Week review "Full Spectrum, Less Spectacle," Horyn praises designers' embrace of color but also equates a Chanel set piece to a cheesy food chain. "Like perpetually dieting designers, haute couture is definitely shrinking before our eyes. Oh, don't be fooled by the giant lion at Chanel, which, depending on how you look at these things, is either an example of Karl Lagerfeld's brilliant stagecraft or an advertisement for a new Disney restaurant chain."

2.) Crabby Cathy takes on fashion editors in a March 2010 Milan Fashion Week review titled "The Look of Lowered Expectations," stating the weekend was "an eternity of bad clothes crammed into four days with editors raging like shut-ins about the lack of fun ('Help, I need a drink!') and the blogger Bryanboy announcing on Twitter that he had scored a free fur jacket from Dolce & Gabbana." Later in the article she hates on Bottega Veneta, saying the presentation "didn't seem to have a clear focus, or at least one that was compelling."

3.) Writing about Vogue's September 2007 issue, Horyn gives the old one-two punch, complaining that she can't comprehend the cover girl Sienna Miller's appeal and later ranting about the advertisements. "Vera Wang's snowy Russian campaign just raises a "Wha?" Brooks Brothers took out a 24-page portfolio that announced, on every page, that it was established in 1818." Sure, the issue weighed 1000 pounds, 900 of which were ads, but the Sienna Miller comment was just mean.

4. In a 2006 review of Marni, Matthew Williamson, and others, Horyn wrote "There was no excuse for Matthew Williamson's collection for Pucci, a banal pastiche of styles culled from designers like Mr. Jacobs and Sonia Rykiel." In the same piece, she wrote "Why can't female designers create fashion commensurate with the largeness and complexity of their lives?" inspiring the Sartorialist to respond with a post called "Cathy Horyn's NYT Milan Review- Wha?" When you've upset Scott Schuman, you know you're in trouble.

5.) In a 2008 review of Brit designer Jonathan Saunders, she wrote, "You can't blame the fine mess that designers served up on Sunday on their rushing home to watch the Super Bowl. They've been working on their fall collections for weeks...many of the outfits looked over-designed, with tabs and bits added to shoulders and sun-ray pleated panels attached to skirts."

6.) Horyn appears to have a vendetta against the Wangs, both Vera and Alexander (who we'll get to later). She took another stab at the female designer in a 2007 review: "Ms. Wang's stylized Russian story was fairly lugubrious. In a way, her problem is that she has too much information, and at the same time, she is not an original-thinking designer."

7.) This 2008 review got her banned from future Giorgio Armani shows: "There was nothing lurid or in bad taste about Mr. Armani's clothes, but neither was there anything subtle or particularly surprising about them." Armani was enraged that she attacked bystanders such as his friends and family in her article, responding, "I accept criticism but not idiocy...what she published was bullshit." (Horyn has been banned from other shows including Dolce & Gabbana, Helmut Lang, and Carolina Herrera. )

8. Recently Horyn has been on a roll, taking a swipe at fashion darling Alexander Wang in an article titled "Pursuit of the New, or Just the Sellable." She points to his lack of "courage in the traditional sense," though she does admire his business savvy. Still, this hurts: "But don't fret for the 26-year-old Mr. Wang: the combined whiplash of globalization and the Internet all but guarantees that these clothes will look new to someone." Oh snap!

9.) In a 2010 review of Tommy Hilfiger, she not only accuses him of being a hack but implies that he isn't a true designer. "For Mr. Hilfiger, the runway may be paved in imitation fieldstone, as it was on Sunday night in the Lincoln Center show space, but it's still a big Sisyphean ball of khaki. Materially, the output will never exceed the creative input, and so he, Mr. Hilfiger of New York, Nantucket and Mustique, is doomed to repeat himself. Or, more accurately, the Hilfiger design team is."

10.) Back in 2008, Horyn's feature on Anna Wintour titled "What's Wrong With Vogue?" skewered the publication for being out of touch and snooty, "It's embarrassing to see how Vogue deals with the recession. For the December issue, it sent a writer off to discover the 'charms' of Wal-Mart and Target. A similar obtuseness permeates a fashion spread in the January issue, where a model and a child are portrayed on a weekend outing with a Superman figure. Is a '50s suburban frock emblematic of the mortgage meltdown?"

11.) Finally, the harshest and most unprovoked article written by Cathy Horyn might be her 2010 profile of Snooki. The opening line is "Flake, cow, loser, slut, idiot, airhead, trash, penguin, creep, moron, midget, freak, Oompa-Loompa, nobody." OK, sure, these turn out to be descriptors that Snooki uses for her father—but then Horyn describes her appearance as "atrocious" and says she is incapable of serious introspection. Say what you want about Snooki, she has never claimed to be a fashion icon.

At least some of Horyn's victims can dish it out, too. We leave you with this catty statement from Nicole Miller's CEO Bud Konheim, who has said of Horyn, "She has a lack of real education in the fashion business—she doesn't even know how to pronounce Lanvin." Fashion is a cruel, cruel world.—Rachel Traub
· Fashion's Most Feared Critic [The Daily Beast]
· Cathy Horyn Hates Fashion's Night Out; Karl Lagerfeld Hates Reading [Racked NY]

Marc Jacobs Collection

385 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012 212 343 1490 Visit Website

Alexander Wang

103 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013 212-977-9683 Visit Website