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For weeks—no, seasons—we've been wondering why all the legit fashion industry folks on The City have been cooing, fawning, and pussyfooting-in-general around Whitney Port's Whitney Eve palaver of a collection.
Do Joe Zee and the Bergdorf Goodman buyers want to be on television so badly that they're willing to overcompensate—lavishing unwarranted praise on a mediocre-at-best celebrity designer—and, in turn, compromise their professional images in the real world?
Finally, on last night's episode of The City, Port got the reality check that flabbergasted viewers have probably been waiting for.
In a market appointment at the Elle magazine offices with Zee and fashion news director Anne Slowey, Whitney Eve received less than stellar reviews from Slowey (who we adored and respected before, but even more so, now):
I'm seeing a lot of stuff that, um, I think people would like. But, you know, I think there's maybe a little bit of focus lacking, in terms of fashion with a capital "F," uh, point of view. You know, to hear [that] you want to see yourself alongside someone like a Phillip Lim or an Alex Wang, you know, I mean, they—they are real designers. And I think that it doesn't mean you can't be a real designer someday. I'm not sure that I'm really getting a point of view. For instance, you know, this is—you know, this is a great dress. And I think a girl who would buy this dress would buy this jacket. But I'm not quite reconciling how it ends up in the same collection. I mean, this is—I haven't seen this before. I've seen all that before. I'm not interested in seeing anything I've seen before from a new designer.We're also so happy that Joe Zee finally cracked his superhuman-jolly veneer and told the truth—albeit, incredibly gently: "When I look at this, and I think it's really cute, that's not really a collection, because it's just items," he said. "This is the case with all young designers. It's, like, you know, learning."
Port proceeds to be upset and tell her patron saint (and our beloved) Kelly Cutrone, saying, "I don't know how much more criticism I can take before I can't handle it anymore, you know? Like, it's such a tough industry, and I feel constantly beat up at the end of the day."
Here's a tip: It's not the learning curve or the (lack of) design in the collection that will make or break a young, aspiring (celebrity) designer—after all, people like Port, we like Port, if her stuff is priced right, it will sell. But it takes real scrappiness and tenacity to hold on and succeed in the fashion biz—MTV reality show or not.
· The City (Season 2): Ep. 6 'Fashion With A Capital F'" [MTV]
· The City Recap: Anne Slowey Tells Whitney She’s Not a ‘Real Designer’ [The Cut]