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Today's post about fashion blogger Jane Aldridge's appearance at What Goes Around Comes Around definitely touched a nerve with one reader. The problem was the word "curate", as in what the vintage store asked the Aldridges to do to their shop windows. Over the past year it's become one of those much-abused fashion words, like "edgy" and "directional," that make people go crazy if they're forced to hear them too often. Or, as our angry commenter put it:
"Curating the shop's store windows." Really? Really?! Wow, watch out Harold Koda—you may have been besties with Diana Vreeland, but you've got some major competition in the form of Jane Aldridge!
I'm sorry, but the girl posts picture of her outfits online like Cher from Clueless (and every other millennial girl under the age of 15). She's barely internet famous, she's not a curator. I'm so over the misuse of this word. You know, even Simon Doonan still proudly calls himself a window dresser; there's no shame in it.
Harold Koda runs the Costume Institute at the Met, so he's allowed to describe himself as a curator—it's his professional title. For everyone else, though, it's just a highbrow way of saying "one who picks things out," which describes all style bloggers, retail buyers, and people who get dressed in the morning.
We asked a couple fashion writers if they agreed that the term was being abused. "Yes. It's the marketing buzzword of 2010," wrote Fashionista's Lauren Sherman. "And it's such pretentious bullshit. I prefer edit, which is also pretentious bullshit, but less-used." Her co-editor Leah Chernikoff added that although it's totally overused, she knows she's part of the problem because she's employed it in the past.
And Lilit Marcus of the Gloss said, "Every time I've been in a boutique that has been described as 'well curated' it usually has about ten total items in the store."
Which brings us to the real problem with "curate": Even though it seems like a totally superfluous concept, sometimes it's the only appropriate way to describe the job of thoughtfully selecting a group of items. And not only is there no less-annoying synonym, but the underlying idea feels dubious to begin with. After all, shouldn't all window displays/blogs/boutiques be filled with items that somebody chose with care?
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