Oscar De La Renta Calls Cathy Horyn A ‘Stale 3-Day-Old Hamburger’

Just when we thought that New York Fashion Week was over and behind us, a verbal feud has broken out between designer Oscar de la Renta and New York Times writer Cathy Horyn. While the most recent development occurred just this morning, it seems like this was a year in the making.

The bad blood might have started last year when Horyn left the designer off her list of must-see shows in New York, while younger brands like Alexander Wang and Prabal Gurung were mentioned. De la Renta then gave Women’s Wear Daily his reaction:

“It bothers me because I love my industry, and I love fashion. I think fashion is something of beauty and it really makes me mad when someone writes about fashion in a bitter way.”

Fast forward to this season. De la Renta showed his spring 2013 collection earlier this week, and Horyn gave it mixed reviews.

“Mr. de la Renta is far more a hot dog than an éminence grise of American fashion. He opened his lively show on Tuesday with a red latex pencil skirt, a sleek ivory wool pantsuit and dairymaid lace. The models’ hair was streaked with war paint, and midway along, after bead-quivering jackets and neon-bright skirts, he sent out white lace with black pencil-like scribbles. It was wonderfully cantankerous, a good bit of window-dressing for the gooey stuff that followed.”

This morning, de la Renta fired back with an open letter to the writer in WWD. Here’s a photo:

Hot dog? Old hamburger? Surely these fashion folk are more eloquent than that. It’s also worth noting that Horyn included Narciso RodriquezSophie Theallet, and Michael Kors in the same write-up, and comparatively, her thoughts on de la Renta were far nicer than those on Kors.

Back at Lincoln Center, the notes for the Michael Kors show said, “Bold shades of sun, palm and sky.” Make that yellow, green and blue. No amount of spin could improve this flat collection of double-face shifts, preppy stripes and optical checks.

While we really have no idea what Horyn meant by her comment, Fashionista points out that she could have been aiming at Nicole Phelps from Style.com. In Phelps’ review of de la Renta’s collection (which is also quite mixed), she began with: “Oscar de la Renta is New York fashion’s éminence grise.”

Now we’re just waiting on Horyn’s retort. May we recommend a nice “undercooked chicken” reference or a play on “crème fraîche”?

UPDATE: Horyn has responded via email to Fashionologie, explaining that she was employing the term’s ’50s, surf-culture slang connotation, meaning to surf “for flash rather than function.”:

“I used the term in a professional context, as someone showing off his tricks, like a surfer. I thought an ad was a little over-the-top.”

No kidding. It took us about five minutes to Google that particular meaning, and it’s a little baffling that someone of de la Renta’s stature and knowledge of the industry would take Horyn’s comment as a personal jab.

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