Monday, April 26, 2010
While catching up with some back issues of The New Yorker yesterday, I stumbled across this article about Polyvore from the March 29 issue.
"Think Black,” the title of the set made by Fabz_Reen, in Indonesia, is a reference to “Think Pink,” the exuberant opening number from “Funny Face,” the 1957 movie about the fashion world. The cadences of the film clearly still echo through the popular fantasy of what constitutes a fashion magazine: a dictatorial matron sweeping through skyscraper offices, as Meryl Streep did in “The Devil Wears Prada,” fifty years after Kay Thompson played a caricature of the legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, fretting about failing the “American woman who stands out there naked waiting for me to tell her what to wear.” In reality, the American woman has not waited to be told what to wear in some time. Vogue and Bazaar now compete with the more populist shopping magazines, like InStyle and Lucky, whose low-key editors have replaced lush, fantastical spreads with practical shopping advice and catalogue-style layouts. Polyvore’s user-generated model abandons the queenly paradigm altogether. The site has 1.4 million registered users, two hundred thousand of whom are, like Helmer, dedicated “creators”: amateur stylists who put together thirty thousand sets a day and post them on Facebook, Twitter, and their personal blogs. Kerry Diamond, an executive at Lancôme who has done business with Polyvore, describes sets as “the cyber equivalent of the inside of a school locker door.”
“Our mission is to democratize fashion,” Jess Lee, Polyvore’s twenty-seven-year-old vice-president of product management, told me recently, as she picked at a huge Caesar salad at Fred’s, the restaurant on the ninth floor of Barneys on Madison Avenue. “To empower people on the street to think about their sense of style and share it with the world.” She believes that the “Funny Face” days are history. “Newspapers and magazines are, like, these things outside that get wet,” she said. “They’re like roadkill.”
What do you think? Will Polyvore, fashion blogs, twitter and the Next Big Internet Thing bring about the end of the reign of Anna Wintour, Carine Roitfeld as Grand Arbiters of fashion? Or will there always be a place for glossy fashion magazines?