The Seat of Power
In her front-row seat at the Calvin Klein fall 2013 show in February, Bridget Foley was a study in reticence. Her dun-colored coat, a Prada of uncertain vintage, and a face devoid of makeup lent her a muted air.
在2月卡尔文·克莱(Calvin Klein)的2013秋冬时装秀上，坐在前排的布里吉特·福莱(Bridget Foley)是一个风格节制的研究对象。她穿着一件暗褐色的大衣，是年代不明的普拉达(Prada)古董衫，一张素颜的脸，让她散发着寂静的气场。
Was that low-key look a choice? Eyeing her front-row peers, some wildly flamboyant by contrast, Ms. Foley waved off the question. “I don’t want to be quoted in this context,” she said.
Apart from the fashion reviews and provocative columns she writes for Women’s Wear Daily, where she has been executive editor for nearly a decade, Ms. Foley rarely comments in any context. She doesn’t trade snarky quips with her colleagues, shies away from the ubiquitous cameras, and her expression, as the first models saunter down the runway, is as hard to decode as a tablet of runes.
除了她在自己做了近十年执行主编的《女装日报》(Women’s Wear Daily)上所写的时装评论和那些辛辣的专栏以外，福莱绝少在任何场合发表任何评论。她不跟自己的同事唇枪舌战，也对无处不在的摄影镜头退避三舍，而她在第一组模特慢慢走下台时的表情，也如同具有神秘意义的符号一般难以解读。
Yet her opinions and those of her editors are scrutinized intently. Ms. Foley’s reports from fashion’s front lines, her coverage of major collections in New York and abroad, and, perhaps even more, her pronouncements on the state of the industry carry the sort of weight that makes WWD a must-read among both industry heavyweights and fashion strivers. At a moment when any fashion-fixated high school sophomore with an iPad may feel compelled to weigh in on the state of the industry, WWD, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, has hung on to its niche as the organ that is to fashion what Variety is to entertainment or Billboard is to the music world — the garment trade’s paper of record.
It is “the go-to source,” said Robert Burke, a former executive at Bergdorf Goodman and now a consultant on luxury brands, “one that today can still make an enormous impact, positively or negatively, in its coverage.”
它是“有问题必找的信息库”，曾经供职于波道夫·古德曼(Bergdorf Goodman)百货公司，现在是奢侈品牌顾问的罗伯特·贝尔克(Robert Burke)这样说道，“在今天它仍然能通过它的报道产生巨大的影响，不管是正面的还是负面的。”
Yet Ms. Foley, who arrived at the paper in the mid-1980s, when she was in her early 20s, wears her authority lightly, having over the years mostly deflected the kind of attention that comes with the turf. In a climate that rewards ambition and strenuous self-promotion, she chooses, perversely, to keep her personal life under wraps, remaining to all but a handful of insiders elusive, eccentric, even mysterious — perhaps the most powerful voice in fashion without a public face.
“Powerful? I’m not sure I think in those terms,” Ms. Foley mused the other day between sips of iced tea at Patroon, a clubby Midtown steakhouse just a skip from her office. Leaning forward for emphasis, she conceded, at last, that the power to praise or to hurt a subject is a weighty responsibility. “I’m writing about an industry,” she said, ignoring her salad in her urgency to make her point. “It’s about fashion. It’s not about me.”
Even her look is self-effacing. For the interview, Ms. Foley wore a charcoal-tinted Lanvin coat with a Dries Van Noten skirt, each obviously costly yet so subdued as to recede into the inky leather of the banquette where she sat.
甚至连她的着装都是收敛的。接受采访时，福莱穿的是炭黑色的浪万(Lanvin)大衣配德赖斯·范诺顿(Dries Van Noten)裙子，显然每一件都价格不菲，但却如此低调，仿佛都要埋进她所坐着的漆黑皮长椅中了。
“Bridget is not someone who needs to be in the limelight,” said Mr. Burke, who got to know Ms. Foley during his tenure in the 2000s as Bergdorf Goodman’s fashion director. “She isn’t in the front row to be seen. She’s there to see what she can see. For her, it’s about getting the story.”
Ms. Foley would not have it any other way, and probably could not even if she wanted to. She has been schooled, after all, in the world of John Fairchild, the genteel tyrant who presided over WWD until his retirement in 1997 at age 70. She arrived as a rookie reporter from California Apparel News, where she covered the West Coast garment trade, when WWD was at the apex of its influence. In those heady days, a raised eyebrow from Mr. Fairchild could prove the making, or undoing, of a designer and the socially prominent women that designer dressed.
福莱不会接受另一种生活方式，而就算她想接受，也很可能接受不了。毕竟，她是在约翰·弗莱查尔德(John Fairchild)的王国里被锻造出来的。那位优雅的暴君直到1997年以70岁的年龄退休之前，都一直统治着《女装日报》。福莱初来乍到时还是《加州服饰新闻》(California Apparel News)的新手记者，刚刚报道了西岸的服装产业，而当时《女装日报》正值影响力的巅峰时期。在那个激越的年代，一个设计师和一个穿着该设计师服饰的名媛，只要弗莱查尔德眉毛一扬，就能决定成败。
To commit a breach of loyalty was to risk exile to fashion Siberia, as a roster that included Geoffrey Beene, Pauline Trigère and the society belle Nan Kempner could attest. The same unwavering allegiance was expected from reporters, over whom Mr. Fairchild hovered from time to time as they clacked on their manual typewriters, straining to channel their boss’s thoughts and whims.
正如杰弗里·比尼(Geoffrey Beene)、波利娜·特里盖里(Pauline Trigère)和社交界的美女南·坎普纳(Nan Kempner)等人可能印证过的那样，一次反叛可能就意味着被放逐到业界的“西伯利亚”。记者也要有同样坚定的忠诚，弗莱查尔德偶尔会在他们埋头敲着打字机的时候，在他们周围巡视，他们都在绞尽脑汁迎合老板的观点和想法。
“A culture like that was not self-promotional,” said Ed Nardoza, who became WWD’s editor in chief in 1991 and to whom Ms. Foley reports. “We were very much old-school in that regard.” Editors and reporters, Mr. Nardoza recalled, learned quickly that their opinions were of little consequence against those of John Fairchild and the paper he ran. (In fact, all reviews, including those written by Ms. Foley, carry no bylines, as if to reinforce the institutional power of the mother ship.)
Though he detested displays of personal vanity, Mr. Fairchild did anoint a handful of protégés, permitting them to function as high-profile alter egos. Most memorable was James Brady, the paper’s dapper publisher in the 1960s, pounding the celebrity beat, appearing on talk shows and often needling the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Lady Bird Johnson for perceived infractions of taste.
虽然他厌恶流露个人虚荣心，但弗莱查尔德也培养了一小撮门生，允许他们高调地充当另一个他。当中最令人难忘的就是詹姆斯·布莱迪(James Brady)，衣冠楚楚的他是这家报刊20世纪60年代的出版人。他出入名流圈，在脱口秀上露面，并且经常在温莎公爵夫妇和伯德·约翰逊夫人(Lady Bird Johnson)等人被他视为品味出错时，对他们品头论足。
Inheriting the Brady mantle in the ’80s and ’90s, Patrick McCarthy, too, found himself rubbing shoulders with the social elite at galas and intimate lunches at La Grenouille. Like the fabled Mr. Brady, who died in 2009, he was routinely solicited by the news media to pronounce on anything from the ups and downs of hemlines to the ins and outs of the first lady’s wardrobe.
在20世纪80、90年代继承布莱迪衣钵的则有帕特里克·麦克卡西(Patrick McCarthy)。他也让自己时常在晚会和“青蛙饭店”(La Grenouille)的私人午餐会中与社会名流们并肩而坐。与2009年去世的神话般的布莱迪一样，他也照例常被新闻媒体邀请就各种话题发表评论，从服饰底边的盛衰到第一夫人服饰的优劣，不一而足。
The office environment in those days was at once intimidating and intoxicating. But Ms. Foley endured mostly by keeping her head down, adhering to a schedule that would have flattened her less-resilient peers. “Her work ethic is intense,” Mr. Nardoza said. Ms. Foley, he added, tends to deliberate over each word or turn of phrase, making the rush to deadline “a bit of a cliffhanger.”
She made the most even then of her position as junior market editor to champion emerging talent, designers like Helmut Lang and Marc Jacobs, who were little known at the time outside the trade, defending their merits with a pit bull’s tenacity.
即使在她担任初级市场编辑一职时，她也会尽职责所能，去拥护那些正在冒起的人才，像海尔姆特·朗(Helmut Lang)和马克·雅可布(Marc Jacobs)这些设计师，在那个时候都不太为外行人所知，福莱以一种斗牛犬般的韧性来捍卫他们。
“You can try to shake off her opinions,” Mr. McCarthy said. “But if she actually believes in something, she will keep coming back at you, and back and back. And as often as not, she is right.”
Among those she resolutely stood behind was Michael Kors. “She is one of but a handful of writers who has watched my career from its infancy,” Mr. Kors said. Her support, and that of WWD, he added, “let retailers know about me before I had fashion shows or advertising.”
Ms. Foley’s convictions stem in part from a profound love of fashion, one that she nurtured from the time she was in elementary school in Troy, N.Y., as (doubtless) one of Vogue magazine’s youngest and most assiduous readers. Her ideas are conditioned as well by an ingrained sense of fairness.
“She has a very strong moral compass,” said Gina Sanders, the chief executive of Fairchild Fashion Media, which publishes Women’s Wear Daily. That sense is demonstrated, Ms. Sanders said, “in her esteem for fashion and those who create it.”
“她有一套非常牢固的道德规范，”出版《女装日报》的弗莱查尔德时尚传媒(Fairchild Fashion Media)首席执行官吉娜·桑德斯(Gina Sanders)说道。那种观念，桑德斯说，体现在了“她对时尚和它的创造者们的尊重上”。
Indeed, Ms. Foley thinks of herself as a kind of fashion cheerleader. “What designers do is so hard,” she said, referring to a production cycle that requires designers to embark on their next collection well before they have completed their last. “Fashion is the only discipline where there is no creative down time,” she said.
Such advocacy, reasoned her bosses at Fairchild, deserved its own platform. At the urging of Peter Kaplan, the former editor of The New York Observer, who three years ago became Fairchild’s editorial director, Ms. Foley began signing her name to the column she used to write anonymously. It now appears erratically (several times a month, at best) under the rubric “Bridget Foley’s Diary,” accompanied by a caricature of Ms. Foley as an attractively vixenish newshound.
她在弗莱查尔德传媒的上司认为，这样的时尚拥护者，值得拥有自己的平台。在前《纽约观察家》(The New York Observer)主编、三年前成为弗莱查尔德传媒编辑总监的彼得·卡普兰(Peter Kaplan)主张下，福莱开始在她曾经匿名撰写的专栏里署上她的名字。现在，它不定期地（最多一个月几次）在红色字体的“布里吉特·福莱日记(Bridget Foley’s Diary)”标题下出现，配上福莱的漫画头像，以辛辣的很有魅力的记者形象示人。
In the publishing climate that vigorously promotes its editors as marketing resources, Fairchild and its parent company, Condé Nast, hope to raise her profile through a variety of digital projects, videos and consumer events that have yet to take a definitive form. “We certainly want to see more of Bridget,” Mr. Kaplan said.
Ms. Sanders added, “Putting people like Bridget forward is intrinsic to the personality of the brand.”
Ms. Foley has no quarrel with that assignment, embracing her status as the voice and face of her paper’s fashion coverage — albeit with reservations. She scoffs at the concept of self-branding, so pervasive these days in the industry. “When I started in this business, Coca-Cola, Cherokee and Clorox were brands,” she said, nearly spitting the word. “Fashion houses were houses, newspapers were newspapers,” and reporters, she might have added, were simply influencers laboring in relative obscurity.
All the same, she is determined to rise to the challenge. Attentive readers can detect in her columns touches of the spiky and contrarian. In January, she castigated no less a personage than Michelle Obama for behaving like a red-carpet prima donna, keeping her public and more than a dozen designers in suspense about what she would wear to the inauguration.
“Mrs. Obama isn’t an indulged starlet primping for the Oscars,” Ms. Foley chided, “nor should she behave like one.”
The next month, she scolded John Galliano for further fueling the controversy surrounding his anti-Semitic remarks by strolling around New York City in a Hasidic-style frock coat. Designers no longer reside in ivory towers, she wrote. They, too, are public figures whose public postures can wound or deflate.
At times, Ms. Foley can be obstinate, apparently having inherited some of John Fairchild’s recalcitrance. Five years ago, when Phoebe Philo was named the creative director of the luxury fashion house Céline, Ms. Foley was miffed that she had been among the last to learn of the appointment. “I’m not going to that show,” she told Mr. McCarthy abruptly before Céline’s debut presentation in New York. She stuck to her guns, Mr. McCarthy recalled with a chuckle, “and in the end I went on my own.”
Certainly she is driven, to a pitch that leaves her little time to cultivate a private life. “I have a social life,” she said, “though certainly not a glamorous, out-every-night, study-in-fabulousness social life.” Briefly married to Michael Belluomo, her editor at California Apparel News, from whom she was divorced in the early 1990s, she has never remarried, raising her daughter, Gráinne, now 27, on her own. Any given day might find her selecting page-one images in daily meetings with her fashion staff, interviewing the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Mr. Jacobs at industry summits, or courting sources over late-night dinners.
当然，她也被倦入了一个让她没有多少时间建立私人生活的领域。“我有社交生活，”她说，“虽然肯定不是那种优雅地每天晚上出去逛街和寻找浪漫故事的社交生活。”她曾短暂地嫁给过她在《加州服装新闻》的主编迈克尔·贝洛莫(Michael Belluomo)，在20世纪90年代初离婚后，她没有再结婚，独立养大了现年27岁的女儿格蕾妮(Gráinne)。随便哪一天，你都可能看见她正在每日例会中和她的时尚版团队一起挑选头版图片，在业界顶级盛会上采访卡尔·拉格斐(Karl Lagerfeld)和马克·雅可布这样的人，或者在深夜才享用的晚餐中寻找报道的人脉资源。
In person, she talks fast, in a breathless staccato, struggling vainly to corral the onrush of contradictory thoughts racing in her brain. Her reviews tend to mirror a divided state of mind. She preferred to reserve judgment on Hedi Slimane, whose spring 2013 collection for Saint Laurent was scathingly dismissed by other critics as lazy and derivative. Paraphrasing her critique of that collection, she mused the other day: “Was Hedi’s mandate to move the fashion needle? Or was it simply to sell clothes?” For her, the question is still unresolved.
“She can look at two or more sides of any issue from any particular angle,” Mr. McCarthy said. “In a discussion with Bridget about anything,” he added with a mixture of affection and chagrin, “she will always bring up the counter argument before you get to it.”
In contrast, though, she has been unflagging in her support of Mr. Jacobs, quick to trot out the “genius” label to describe collections that have left other critics unmoved. Some in the business have suggested that Ms. Foley has been unduly influenced by her longtime friendship with the designer, who employs her daughter as an assistant manager at one of his stores in Los Angeles.
While acknowledging that conflicts could arise from such close ties with designers, Ms. Foley insists she is unbiased. Whether or not one likes one’s subjects, she said, “honest criticism involves a level of separation,” one she claims to stringently observe.
For sure, her backing can be a boon to a Seventh Avenue novice. “For a designer who wants to be taken seriously,” said Adrien Field, who presented his debut collection in New York in February, “a review from WWD is a stamp of accreditation that you can take with you into sales meetings and investor pitches. It’s worth its weight in gold.”
而毫无疑问，她的赞许对于第七大道(Seventh Avenue)的新手来说是一种福音。“对于一个想要被认真对待的设计师来说，”刚于2月在纽约发布了他第一个系列的阿德里恩·费尔德(Adrien Field)说道，“来自《女装日报》的一番评论就如同是一个官方认可的印章，你可以将它带到你的销售会议和投资招募会上。它有着金子般的份量。”
Among major retailers, her views, and those of the paper, carry considerable clout. “They are just one element, but an important element, in influencing our buy,” said Michael Gould, the chief executive and chairman of Bloomingdale’s.
Yet insiders lament that Ms. Foley’s voice (and by extension that of WWD itself) often lacks bite. “I don’t know that today the paper resonates in the way that it did when Mr. Fairchild was there,” said Mr. Burke, the fashion consultant. “Back then, women who were fashion-wise would subscribe. They would come into Bergdorf waving tear sheets from WWD, and would show us the look they wanted.”
Today, consumer opinion is driven by a cacophony of voices on blogs and Web sites, on television shows and in the fashion glossies — a far cry from the time when WWD was the dominant force in the industry, and a thumbs-up or thumbs-down from John Fairchild could make or impede a career.
Nor does it help that the paper is slow to anoint new fashion stars, a practice once at the source of its formidable power. “The days of kingmaking and queenmaking are over,” said Bud Konheim, the chief executive of Nicole Miller, the upscale dressmaker with 15 free-standing stores across the country. “Now everybody is trying to find out how to go viral with everything.”
这份报纸现在也很少再捧出新的时尚明星，而这曾是它令人高山仰止的影响力的一部分。“那些可以封王封后的日子已经结束了，”在全美有15家独立高端女装店的品牌妮可·米勒(Nicole Miller)的首席执行官巴德·康海姆(Bud Konheim)说，“现在人人都在试图找到方法，把什么都像病毒一样散播开来。”
In an image-dominated culture, Mr. Konheim asked, “Does anybody actually read and react?”
But Mr. Field, for one, is keeping close watch. “I would rather have a three-sentence write-up in WWD,” he said, “than the attention of 100 blogs.” Ms. Foley is, in his view, that rare fashion editor who remains above the fray, credible, knowledgeable and untainted by commercial interests.
Ms. Foley might blush at that assessment. Her job, she would argue, is simply to give fashion the respect that’s its due. And she sums up her merits in a tidy phrase.
“I get things done,” she said.