5 Reasons To Go Hear Your Idol Speak In Person

Cathy Horyn, Fashion Critic of The New York Times, 10/20/2010

Yesterday, I attended an ‘open discussion’ with Cathy Horyn. I’m not one for attending speaking events. Yesterday reminded me I’m a dope. These things can be very, very valuable.

1. Revealed details bring the picture to life. The fashion industry is in upheaval at the moment, the role of a fashion writer changing. In the past, reportage of breaking news from exclusive foreign runways was funded by department store advertising. Then the Internet appeared, in all its image-laden glory. The advertising, well, it disappeared. Fashion writers now have to report either at a more complex and more opinionated level or as celebrity gossip. Horyn is not the fashion reporter any more. She’s the Fashion Critic. Critics need some sinew.

2. You will be reminded that the human side has universal import. Horyn told tales. Tales of John Fairchild, editor of Women’s Wear Daily, and his luncheon cabal in New York. Bill Blass feeling worried because, “John doesn’t seem to be talking to me. ” Tales of Tom Ford, who doesn’t worry what anyone thinks of him, and Yves St. Laurent, who did. The impact those personalities had on the clothes they made. Giorgio Armani and his inner competition with Miuccia Prada and Gianni Versace. Raf Simons, declaring himself to be innovative, and forever to be judged as such. Tales of Horyn herself, backstage at Chanel, watching Madonna and Lady Gaga together, before Gaga was, well, Gaga.

3. People who are successful usually got that way for a reason. Horyn is articulate, focused, and attractive. Not to be peculiar, with that last descriptor, but in an industry where looks are part of the marketplace one way or another, it seems fair game to comment. Horyn also appears to have set aside fear, or, if she still feels any, puts on a hell of a show. She also thanked me the next day via Twitter, and mentioned my father. Thereby setting off all High WASP indicators that either someone’s parents did a very good job, or she figured out the well-behaved thing on her own.

4. You might get to meet the person you admire. This event, held in a smallish conference room turned out to be the intimate coda following a previous lecture and discussion. So 12 people sat around the table listening, with another 5 or so of us on chairs at the edge of the room. Horyn answered our questions. Like a seminar where your professor speaks very well-formed English and wears interesting clothes.

5. If you bring someone close to you, you may broaden your relationship. I asked a question, but first I said to my father in a whisper, “I want to ask a question. Is that OK?” And then Dad asked the final question of the day, comparing sports writing to fashion writing, and Cathy Horyn said she had been told by Grace Mirabella that she wrote like a sportswriter. In fact, she said, “My greatest fear was always that I’d have to write about the clothes.” It would have been difficult to plan a more suitable concluding line.

6. Going to hear an expert in your field is good incentive to practice your own skills. In addition to a peanut Prada sweater (I believe Imogen of Inside Out Style would call the color ‘rose beige camel’) and black Varinas, I wore the Claudia Kussano earrings my brother gave me. Remember, I was trying to look like I wasn’t trying. Also the salesperson in the Prada store told me Miuccia is all about the crafty, vintage jewelry look. I decided to trust him. Diamonds would have been wrong, wrong, wrong.

I even paid attention to my makeup. Sponged on Armani foundation #5, then Cle de Peau concealer in Beige on age spots and the reddened areas around my nose. I never use concealer under my eyes, it hurts to apply and Sturdy Gals don’t think pristine undereyes are worth pain. I added peach YSL Cream Blush, then MAC Multiple in Riviera over that so as not to be too orange. One never wants to be too orange. I outlined my lips in MAC Spice lip pencil, added NARS lip gloss in Giza, wiped everything off a bit, and added a layer of NARS Lipstick in Cruising on top. For a smudgy, artisanal nude-ish mouth. Or so I told myself.

Whether or not my ministrations mattered, I felt good. In fact, the entire experience made me feel good. A cool day, a university campus, an expert. As my father said, standing outside the Humanities Center in the shade of an oak, “That was a very pleasant event.”

*You can find Ms. Horyn on Twitter, @CathyHorynNYT, or here on her blog, On The Runway. The links I’ve included here provide a glimpse at her writings as well as the impression she’s made on her industry.

*Note that I did not take notes, and therefore I may not have reported Ms. Horyn’s words completely. I believe the sense is correct.

Image: me

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  • Sounds like a divine time! I'm so glad you were able to make it– and it sounds like you truly enjoyed the seminar! So glad.

  • Lisa I loved reading all of your comments and can tell it was a wonderful time with an amazing woman.

    Art by Karena

  • What a fabulous post. I love how you covered all of the bases here. I'm so envious; this must have been such an interesting talk.

  • hi lpc,

    so happy for you. it sounds like such a great day. my idol is a rock star so i can only imagine what it would be like in such a small, intimate setting. fabulous!


  • Wow what a great event. Not only did you get to meet the talented Cathy Horyn, you got to spend some quality time with your father.
    A win-win all the way.

  • Cathy looks like she enjoys her work. Thanks for the introduction.

    I thought diamonds were never wrong.

  • Cool. Really cool and interesting.

  • Now that is the way to meet your idol…small venue, small group.

    Your attire sounds understated and elegant.
    I enjoyed the make up details as well…

    i am with Susan here…diamond earrings can be worn for every occasion…but I think your gifted ones made an impression that might be more interesting less safe, more "artsy cousin."

  • Having missed a speaking event last night due to fatigue, I must agree with what you say here. I'm often reluctant to attend, or perhaps more accurately skeptical, impatient, about the possible benefit — I think I'd do just as well to read that person's words; I want to distance myself from any groupie, wannabe, please-sign-this-for-me leanings. Yet whenever I overcome these reservations and go hear a poet or a novelist or any other speaker in person, there is something compelling about the experience that lifts it above the words and the ideas one might get from simply reading that writer.
    That small venue sounds ideal for such an occasion and I suspect you gave Horyn some inspiration just as she inspired you. The best thinkers and writers, I'd say, thrive on the genuine reciprocity which can sometimes occur in such situations.

  • I'd like to meet you

  • Sounds like an enjoyable event especially in the company of your father. That will be a nice memory for you both. BTW, I am an Armani #4. The best foundation I have ever found. Looking forward to your Saturday post. :) xoxo

  • I think that Cathy looks VERY happy to be meeting you. I know I would be. What a lovely recounting. Thank you!xo

  • Sounds amazing. I totally agree with you about going to see experts speak. I was lucky enough to see Valerie Steele this week at London College of Fashion, she was brilliant. Totally inspirational – I'll be blogging about it soon!

  • I'll have to start reading her NYT blog. It's interesting because the photo from today doesn't scream "fashion critic" to me, although she is in all black.

  • I really ought to swan my over to her New York Times blog for further reading, and I can relate to 'Fashion Critic' rather than 'reporter' – Enjoyed reading the topics outlined in the post above – and how sweet of you to end the post with your Papa's words;-)

  • Always stimulating to meet a Personage who is both intelligent and humane. And it seems as if you were in the presence of more than one of those.

  • "Smudgy artisanal nude-ish mouth" cracked me up. It sounds like you had a really interesting day, what a fun opportunity!

  • How fascinating! I love how you described your makeup, but even more, I love that your dad went with you. Precious.

  • Muffy – It was really a high point.

    Karena – Thank you!

    Deja – Oh you would have loved her. And you would have asked such good questions.

    Janet – Have you seen Get Him To The Greek? If you like rock stars….

    Susan – Yes I think she does. You are more than welcome. Diamonds might not be wrong in the appropriateness sense, but I was trying to up my game to style:).

    Town and County – Thank you:).

  • Belle – Exactly. Win-win in ways I might not have predicted.

    hostess – yes, good way to put it, I was going for the "artsy cousin" level of style.

    mater – Horyn really listened well. All those years as a journalist, right? Sorry you were tired last night and I hope you're perking up today.

    Laura – Well hello! Thank you so much. I hope you're doing well.

    Pink Martini – :). Great foundation.

    Belette – Some day we will meet. Cathy seemed very cheerful. Maybe she likes California:)?

  • That's Not My Age – I bet she was great. "Fashion's brainiest woman" indeed.

    RoseAG – If you look at female fashion critics, Suzy Menkes, etc. they often look different than we expect.

    Fashion, Art – Yes! Swan on over! My dad has a way with words:).

    Duchesse – I definitely borrowed some of my father's glory. Luckily he didn't mind.

    julia – So glad to make you laugh. It was a lucky day.

    Henley – I'd pick dad over make up too…..

  • I grew up in the Detroit suburbs, reading Horyn when she lived and wrote here, and I have always enjoyed her writing and admired the fine mind she brings to it. I have long-ago, dim memories of an amazing essay on her young self and the birth of her son that was just amazing – clear, brave, tough, honest writing. She's a keeper.

  • Oh. My. Word.

    How very cool Miss LPC, what a dream of a forum! She really is one of my all-time faves, I love that she sticks to her guns and calls it as she sees it.

    And your father's question with the sportswriting analogy is perfect. Good for him, and for you. LOVE this post!

  • Artful Lawyer – Cathy talked about being in Detroit. And its impact on her approach. I will have to see if I can find the article about the birth of her son. I am not surprised at all to hear it's as you describe.

    TPP – I wish you had come with me. I bet you and she could have had a nice old confab…

  • Ya' all would just be open mouthed in my presence. I brush on some Lancome' foundation…some powder….sometimes concealer…eyeliner, mascara…blush..lipstick..go!..(mostly purchased from Wal_Mart). Just as I stand in line at the grocery store, & admire the great veins of people, (nursing habit)…you all would size me up & down for a makeover. Only, it would have to be one, that could get me out the door in less than hour, & one in which I wouldn't feel superficial and caught up in a pointless road to nowhere. I want to be modest…clean..pressed…classic. Make me over that way…I'm good. I don't want to think about fashion…I want to think about my significant purpose in life…even as a nurse…saving lives…it's still not enough…I'm on a quest…(I guess the purpose of the folks in fashion is to help get me there looking modest..clean..& crisp…freeing me up…to focus on my destiny…THANKS…so when's my make=over?

  • Of all the great "gets" from this story, I'm especially charmed and warmed by you asking your dad for "question asking permission/blessing."

  • cathy horyn is a great writer. i'm glad you got to meet her. i love that final line… that her greatest fear was that she'd have to write about the clothes.
    i also loved your photos and stories from your trip to india in 1982. i really enjoyed it.

  • I don't like to gush but Horyn is amazing. Loved her B. Blass bio. That and she has more guts than the 82nd Airborne Division. She's an amazing woman. And so are you. Well done.

  • Lisa – I would be happy to do a High WASP Walmart makeover. It would be fun as heck.

    ADG – Fathers and daughters don't quit.

    Giovanna – Thank you!

    tintin – Gosh. As my mom says, a simple thank you will suffice. Guts are a good thing.

  • As happy as I am that you had such a fantastic day, and with your father ( how lovely) my biggest need is to tell you how much I love, love, love the new look of your blog.

    Fantastic. a delight to view and read. Am I late to the party with this praise?


  • I like the new design!

    And, I’m in awe of this opportunity you had. I tend to act like a teenager in the presence of celebrity and always kick myself for it afterwards.

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  1. […] example, on one end of the spectrum we’ve got the the New York Times fashion blog. Written by Cathy Horyn, among others, the Times’ fashion reporters report primarily on the fashion industry, under a […]