top of page

mayakotomoriforever: Word Salad

mayakotomoriforever WAS a monthly fashion column by yours truly, self-reported and researched to the 9s and it will have a new home next month >:) She has not beat the writer allegations and thinks Mayor Eric Adams should focus 100% of the extra police he just hired to investigate "writers," herself included - she's looking for inspiration.

This year...we're going to see a lot of girls getting dressed. But they're gonna think really hard about getting dressed and we're gonna know that because they're It Girls. And what do It Girls like? We may never know. Because they're mysterious. Miu Miu Yeah, and also Miu Miu was invented by Miuccia Prada. Maximalism, TikTok. Bloquette? Anyways tie a ribbon in your hair and you're allowed to align yourself on the cutting edge. Think about getting dressed because you're an intellectual.

I have one question that I also can kind of answer: since when did fashion writing get so word salad-y? Personally, I'd identify the prominence of self-titled "fashion" people on social media as the final horseman signifying the apocalypse. However, I'm only 24 and a little bit too young to adopt such a crotchety point of view - don't trip, the second I turn 31 my distaste will age into a fine, pungent crotchetiness. But until then, it's a little too easy to point to social media as the sole benefactor of fashion idiots, specifically, I think social media has sped everything up to rate that not only makes things obsolete faster, but also makes people feel like they have to know and like everything when in real life, they could give a shit. In 2013, the big thing was taking photos. Around 2015-2016 it was shooting movies and editing, around 2017-2018 it was having a really particular music taste, then it was furniture and architecture, 2019 was the year of being a "fine artist" aka a really bad self-taught sculptor, from 2020-kind of now it was/is food and being a "chef," now calling yourself a DJ or a writer is all the rage. I just retroactively trend-forecasted many different jobs in the past 10 years of the artistic gig economy, and the reason why I am even able to make these identifications is because social media made certain DIY personalities in these fields popular by making them categorical. I believe the effect is twofold: in addition to breaking down barriers of entry into these industries (well-intentioned), social media pathologized living an "artsy" life, and made people feel an obligation to know about tasteful furniture, food, clothing, music, everything. Historically? Chefs didn't care about fashion or what shoes were in at the time. DJs had their own style independent of Miu Miu ballet flats. We didn't open things up by sharing our lives parasocially, we homogenized taste, and created disingenuous followers who ultimately lack point of view, and don't know how to be comfortable with only caring about the things that truly interest them. This is scary, and this is why I think a lot of fashion writing from major publications sounds more like useless ChatGPT warbling than substantive reporting, or critique.

The first italicized paragraph is my MayaGPT translation of this NYLON piece about the "Certified Dweeb." The article starts off talking about how every fashion season, we fashion writers clamor to look for the new It Girl aesthetic, because somehow, she is always ahead of the trend cycle that she partially creates. By the end, we're somehow talking about how the It Girl constantly chases the new thing? Don't get me wrong, style is complicated and oxymoronic in the way that the style "icons" we identify both set trends and follow a bit of the cycle, but this notion feels deeply self-contradictory. Apparently, the new It Girls are inspired by Miu Miu (gasp).

"These lovable weirdos differ from the previously sought after glamazon girls of Euphoria-inspired makeup and DIY-ing Paris Hilton’s infamous 18th birthday dress. Instead, she’s a girl who’s confident in herself and freshly rolled out of bed. She has no time for complicated hair and makeup, and is merely looking to go about her day feeling comfortable, because at a certain point, avant-garde-subversive-basics-biker-core-ballet clothing has gotten pretty uncomfortable to wear."

There's this really great moment in Girls that describes my distaste with this type of writing. When Hannah's working at GQ, one of her co-workers pitches a style archetype called "The Mad Hatter" for a men's style feature and says nothing more, expecting everyone to get it. Their editor Jenna Lyons (amazing cameo) asks him to say more, and all he splutters is "you know, the type of guy who wears like porkpie hats. Fedoras. Hat guy." Jenna replies "Kevin. that's just a guy you saw on the street one time. That's not a type." I feel the exact same way about this description, and this piece at large: it self-mythologizes with a whole bunch of hyper-specific references more than it identifies an actual trend/style movement. The reason why we don't hear more about the trend itself is probably because this is just a girl that the writer saw on the street one time. She took that and ran with it, inventing a narrative to use as support for a "trend" that is more evidentiary of a personal projection than it is something that actually exists.

So in addition to the difference between fashion and style, in fashion writing, there's a huge difference between trend/style reporting, and taste making. Trend/style reporting comes from looking at what people are wearing and drawing fun conclusions to write something engaging, where references are welcome as long as they serve the actual researched trend to help anchor it in time for the readers. Tastemaking is a lot harder, it isn't necessarily the product of what people are wearing as much as it is a personal take on what people could be wearing, where projection is welcome as long as it ultimately serves the writer's personal tastes. Similarly to how we see fashion and style blur under the guise of a more democratic fashion industry (false!), we see trend/style reporting and tastemaking muddy into these pieces that project more than they report to hide a lack of research, and report more than they reflect taste because, well: no one really seems to have a point of view anymore.

We're talking about major publications too. This past Valentine's Day, American Vogue put out an article talking about how balaclavas are in as if it's breaking news. I think anyone in New York cold have told you that balaclavas were breaking news in winter of 2019, and they're starting to die, actually. Just 20 days ago, Vogue published something about how street-style cowboy fashion is back when I mean, it never left? At least not since Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent SS2015 introduced a very French '70s take on cowgirl couture, which has been reinvented in a gazillion ways since and yes, while cowboy has come and gone in the dominant "trend" cycle it's not like this is new, at all. We're still talking about denim?! I mean this with all due respect: come the fuck ON.

I think what bothers me most is that when we see pieces like whatever that NYLON thing was, we accept it as somehow representative of the new frontier of fashion writing, always blending forms, never definable, waxing poetic on some idea of "mystery" that really just reads like a cop-out to an ultimate lack of point of view. I worry that this encourages fashion writers to see how easy it is to feign taste for the sake of clicks, NYLON shuttered its print publication and laid off its entire print staff one random day in 2017. Even digital isn't safe, PAPER Magazine laid off its entire editorial staff two days ago per a serious lack of digital ad revenue that tanked what once was a cultural institution of a magazine. These shutdowns sure as hell don't encourage people to care about the substance behind what they're writing, especially when it feels like the walls are closing in every day.

There are a lot of fashion writers to keep up with, people like Lynn Yaeger, Lauren Sherman, THEE Rachel Tashjian Wise. I have not beat the writer allegations because I want to be like these women, not because calling yourself a writer specifically in the fashion arena is the artsy job soup du jour, but because I literally do not see myself doing anything else for the rest of my life. We have things to learn, we have things to read, there is always research to do and parties to go to and life to live, you can't write about fashion if you're caught up articulating some pathology you just created, you can't write about fashion without dedicating to live it.

87 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page