Anyone who says they don’t enjoy critiquing another person’s outfit is probably lying. Even, perhaps especially, those who claim to not care about fashion.
“What the hell is she wearing!” they might screech about a particularly avant garde outfit. “Who’d pay money to wear that?” they chuckle.
Then there are the fashion types who silently look one another up at fashion week and clock the label, the season, the success of a lewk in a second, even while hating this almost compulsive instinct about themselves.
And for all of these people – those in the fashion clique and those outside it – there was E!’s Fashion Police.
A show dedicated to pulling apart what celebrities were wearing, both on the red carpet and off, whether they cared about fashion or not. (But mostly, a vehicle for Joan Rivers’ deliciously wicked observations about famous people.)
A show that this week reached its inevitable end.
For is there a place anymore for fashion “experts” to critique outfits when we’re all meant to #AskHerMore?
Is there a place for Fashion Police now fashion is no longer insulated from politics and the wider world? Look at the backlash that Donna Karan (rightly) attracted with her off-colour comments about the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Or the demands for the fashion industry to no longer remain silent about the predators that exist within its well-dressed confines.
As The Hollywood Reporter gently put it, “In a world that’s become increasingly fatigued with aesthetic criticism and ‘Who are you wearing?’, E! has decided to put the final nail in Fashion Police’s coffin.”
While the #AskHerMore movement – a social media campaign that pushed for red carpet reporters to ask women more about their careers and ambitions and less about their clothes – has somewhat fizzled out, the damage to shows so overtly dedicated to criticising others has probably been done. And its sentiment remains: women are no longer okay with being ornamental, and famous women who don’t express even an inkling toward feminism and empowerment are somewhat on the outer.
See, we’re all too woke for surface judgement (except secretly, in the car ride home from the party).
Plus, often Fashion Police, which launched in 1995, got it way, way (too) wrong.
Like the time host Giuliana Rancic said of Zendaya’s dreadlocks on the red carpet, “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil… or weed.”
During Kathy Griffin’s brief and acrimonious stint on the show she said of Lorde’s tuxedo, “I would have put her in the men’s section.”
Indeed as The Hollywood Reporter notes, the show lost its fizz when Joan Rivers died in 2014. Rivers’ daughter Melissa, as well as Giuliana Rancic, Brad Goreski, NeNe Leakes and Margaret Cho struggled in the new era.
“The venerable red-carpet panel, originally a vehicle for the late Joan Rivers and her notoriously sharp sartorial hot takes, had struggled for relevance in the three years since Rivers’ death. The talent roster fluctuated, ratings struggled and the series’ cheers and jeers on what actresses chose to wear to award shows ultimately did not seem to fit in the #AskHerMore culture,” writes Michael O’Connell.
Meanwhile, Melissa Rivers criticised the AskHerMore movement, noting that it’s awfully tricky to condense one’s thoughts on a very serious topic in 30 seconds, while also plugging the designer who gave you the dress for free.
Gary Snegaroff, senior VP for Wilshire Studios, which produces Fashion Police, told Variety of the show, “What’s been consistent through all the years has been a love of fashion, and that started with Joan. The only thing she loved more than fashion was getting a laugh, so this combined her two loves. She always felt that fashion was something to be discussed, not to be taken too seriously, and that’s the show we put together.”
And Melissa Rivers said of her time on it, “I am truly proud to be part of this legacy.”
But one must wonder, what legacy do we really want to remember: the one that gave us the “mani cam” or the time when actresses started giving it the bird and demanding to be asked more? Or when no industry was a safe ground for power imbalances and predatory behaviour and judging a person on what they look like.
Maybe we’re over-thinking it. It is just fashion, after all.
E! will host Fashion Police: The Farewell will air on E! November 27. RIP.