Bridget Foley, front row seat at Paris Fashion Week 2015.
Photo: Pixelformula / Sipa / Shutterstock
The convulsions of 2020 have claimed a number of fashion institutions as we know them Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers, Century 21, the list goes on and then, just at the end of the years, one more: Bridget Foley, the editor-in-chief of Everyday women’s clothing, and a mainstay of newspaper fashion coverage for over 30 years, was fired from her post.
It’s a big part of my life, Foley told The Cut. It has been a privilege to cover this industry through such remarkable times of change. I had the privilege as a columnist, but also as a participant, to be involved at a very exhilarating time in fashion and the media.
James Fallon, Editorial Director of Fairchild Fashion Media, who includes WWD, did not respond to a request for comment.
The surprising thing about looking at pictures of old fashion shows is how the front rows stay the same. For an industry founded on change, stasis often reigns. Anna Wintour ruled Vogue since 1988. Reviewer Tim Blankss white quiff has been easy to spot since the 1990s (although it was darker then). Among them, since the mid-1980s, when she came to WWD of California Apparel News, the only other job she held as an adult, was Foley, who could be both imperious and gentle in her catwalk reviews and regular column, Bridget Foleys Diary. (Still the workhorse, Foley had three bylines on WWD.com on Jan.10.)
She’s been in the industry long enough to nurture design talent now considered titans. She is one of the few writers who has watched my career since debuting, Michael Kors told New York Times in 2013, for a profile of Foley which positioned her squarely, as the title said, in The seat of power. She has long defended Marc Jacobs, and if some people sometimes wonder if their association is too close for a critical distance (whispers she denies), she is one of the few working today who can say that she was at his famous 1992 grunge show for Perry. Ellis, which earned him both lasting fame and a pink slip. She literally wrote the book about Tom Ford.
Everyday women’s clothing itself, which dates back to 1910, has undergone sea changes in recent years. Foley first arrived at this newspaper during the time of John Fairchild, the gleefully pugnacious publisher who defibrillated what had been a shaky commercial organ with celebrity coverage, the company’s plot (WWD sent photographers to hover outside powerful eating places like La Grenouille and Quo Vadis), gossip and infighting on Seventh Avenue, some on his own initiative. In the years following his retirement, in 1997, WWD settles down again in a quieter and more decorated outlet, through several changes of owner. Cond Nast bought Fairchild Publications, as the company was then known, in 1999, to longtime owner Disney, then sold it to Penske Media in 2014, where he currently lives alongside Variety, Deadline and Rolling stone. In 2015, WWD reduced its print edition from the daily to the weekly, then in 2017, occasionally for special issues, focusing instead on daily digital content. (Disclosure: I worked for Fairchild Fashion Media, but not for WWD, from 2010 to 2014.)
With Foley at WWD although potentially still contributing, the list of established fashion critics, always short, is getting shorter. Authority in the field is scarce, and this shift makes it felt even more, though it’s worth considering whether it might open up space for new voices as well. Without a serious body of reviews, can designers expect to get the kind of feedback they need to thrive? Among those who remain in the longtime care is Vanessa Friedman, the New York fashion critic. Times; Robin Givhan, from Washington Publish; Sarah Mower, from Vogue; Tim Blanks, the editor of Business of Fashion; and Cathy Horyn, Cuts fashion critic. Suzy Menkes, the dean of the show criticism form, ultimately resigned her post last year, though she continues to write and record her own podcast. WWD had speculated on his retirement, prematurely, for decades.