As far as awful made-up words go, “fashionista” ranks right up there with “foodie” as a term brandished by dilettantes to describe themselves in the most cringe-worthy way possible. It’s no longer enough to say that one follows fashion or enjoys food, apparently; referencing your idle passion now requires more swagger in the form of a late-comer to the Oxford English Dictionary.
I loathe both words, but I can’t figure out if this is because I find the words themselves repellent or because I have an aversion for the people most likely to use them without irony. I like good words as much as I like good fashion and good food, so I suspect it’s a combination of both; foodies give us bad food, fashionistas give us bad fashion, and now both of them have given us bad words to use in describing their existence.
What fashionistas and foodies both get wrong is another “f” word – fundamentals. Fundamentally, fashion should look good. Fundamentally, food should taste good. But outspoken hobbyists have infiltrated these cultural arenas and launched post-modern projects where what’s bad is good, hero worship replaces critical evaluation, and self-important opinions preclude any allowance for objective aesthetic ideas.
Looking at photos of the recent New York fashion week runways reminded me of visiting a much-hyped restaurant only to learn that the food was neither interesting nor well-executed. One or the other might be forgiven, but a failure on both counts just means that the creator couldn’t be bothered to try. But when you have a court of admirers that demand nothing of you but reciprocated flattery, why would you go to your greatest efforts to create something to please them? They will be pleased with anything.
A fashionista is someone who can watch the butt-naked emperor pass by and still proclaim their appreciation for his fabulous outfit. As the ranks of fashionistas swell, it’s not surprising that more emperors without clothes (worth wearing) are strutting around. I’d like to believe the solution is as simple as the favored nobility of fashion taking an honest look in the mirror. But judging by the fashion that is now prevailing, I’m afraid even the mirrors themselves may have become nothing but sycophants.