The fashion industry lost one of their greatest icons as February came to a close. John B. Fairchild forever changed fashion journalism during his thirty-year reign as the head of Women's Wear Daily publishing. Fairchild turned a basic trade publication into a fashion bible by penetrating the depths and crevices of the industry and delivering harsh, but honest criticism and juicy gossip on the chic elite. Known as the most feared man by the style-set, he was also one of the most respected. Fairchild was never afraid to publish anything that would cause worlds to crumble, and he could make or break a designer's career with one single printed word. The man not only made WWD the successful paper it remains, but he also brought us editorial-ridden W Magazine in modern times. He coined some of the industry's most famous phrases thrown around today, from "The Midi" to "Ladies Who Lunch", and other, catchy, widely-used terms.
Since the 60s, when he was summoned from his post in Paris to take over WWD in The States, Fairchild knew that in order to be ahead of everyone else that you must be different, you must push and break down boundaries, which he did successfully--he broke them all. The publisher believed in hard, humble work and primarily picked on those in the industry that he felt needed to be knocked off their high and mighty horse, for realistic grounding. He hated who's-who parties with manufactured guests and far preferred intimate nights at home with family and close friends. He was one of the first in journalism to employ unheard-of, less experienced writers on a hunch, something that is so rare in the editorial world even today, but it's a move that should be practiced more often. For that action alone, I, for one, am eternally grateful for him.
John Fairchild deeply knew and understood fashion. He solidified the career of Yves Saint Laurent and countless other esteemed designers, and he wasn't above blasting them publicly for work deemed too lazy or horrid. The publisher cared deeply for this industry and felt it his innate duty to hold it and every participant accountable to make it great. He knew that no news was bad news, and his readers deserved a good story. He felt that air kisses and exhausted bravados were boring and dishonest. Fairchild gave his disciples something to look forward to, with a weekly paper bubbling with juicy content and educated, unbiased opinions on any and everything involving fashion and style.
I never knew this man; this legend. I wish I had. I would have thanked him for always being his unapologetic self; for standing by his firm beliefs until the very end and for having the guts to produce the work he did within publishing. I'd thank him for bringing and keeping the "fun" to an otherwise stuffy and serious affair. Whether he was adored or abhorred, John Fairchild will always be remembered as Fashion's Leader of the Pack, and his work will continue to push the boundaries of journalism and inspire the style-set to continue to produce only the best, most memorable work, worthy of front-page-news.