It was Friday afternoon and the end of fashion week was near. I was on my way out of the Overseas Passenger Terminal when I bumped into Patty Huntington of Frockwriter looking on trend in her brightly patterned 70s vintage dress. She granted me this interview.
Tanja Gacic: Hi Patty! You must be feeling so tired!
Patty Huntington: Like everyone I think! Very glad it’s the end of fashion week unfortunately, but you know that happens when you are working 12-16 hours a day.
TG: Have you seen every show?
PH:No I haven’t unfortunately because I’m doing a lot more photography.I never used to do photography but since I’ve had my own blog you kind of have to have your own material and look- I really like doing backstage stuff as you get some amazing shots but once you start doing that you get the whole back end side of it and it triples or quadruples what you were doing before,so I haven’t seen every show but I have seen a lot of shows.I’ve seen some great shows.There has been some great shows and fortunately the ones that I saw didn’t include too many duds .Look every fashion week there are duds , people show and then they learn how to do it better next time…
TG: Yes ,it’s unfortunate when the clothes are good but the production fails.
PH: Yes, well sometimes I say good clothes alone save the show,if it was really well edited, but yes that’s right, I mean I’ve seen a couple of shows this week where the stuff on the website looked better edited than what they edited for the show ,a lot of people just don’t know ,they want to put everything on there , whereas they need to pull it back to just a really clear brand statement.You know Josh Goot’s show wasn’t particularly long, although it took forever to start, but that is what you get when you show in an abandoned carpark.Did you see it?
TG: Yes, it was beautiful, I really liked it and the venue was incredible.
PH: Incredible venue , and short, wasn’t particularly long but really just was the essence….I mean I’m sure there were other pieces in the collection but you don’t need to show everything.
TG: What was your first fashion week?
PH: I’ve been doing it every year.’96 wasn’t it?
TG: Wow you have been doing it for so long.What were you doing before Frockwriter?
PH: I’ve been a journalist for over 20 years,I’ve always worked in print.I worked as the Sydney Morning Herald fashion reporter,I’ve been writing for Women’s Wear Daily, which is an American fashion newspaper- I worked for them for 16 years actually as their Australian correspondent…I’ve also worked in TV.So I mean I started actually blogging while I worked for the SMH because they wanted to integrate their coverage, so instead of just having the online team do the coverage of fashion week, which they did, but they got the fashion reporter ,which made a lot of sense, to do a blog and that is when I started blogging .But it kind of just ,as you’ll discover when you keep blogging…(laughs)
TG: It’s bloody hard!
PH:Yes it’s easy to start a blog but it’s just hard to kind of keep it going and you become this kind of slave to this passion really!
TG: Do you feel bloggers have an advantage over newspaper because it’s such a fast turnover and they are able to get the word out quicker?
PH: Well I suppose it depends what the word is.A lot of them just take photos, they don’t really do any analysis, and they have never done any. I mean they can have an opinion, everyone’s got an opinion,and some are faster than others at uploading photos but I think mainstream media really should, I mean they do online stuff,but unfortunately fashion is not a priority for mainstream media in Australia.The amount of space they devote to it is really small and they could do a lot more and make themselves destinations for the coverage.What is really incredible this year , I mean for the last couple of years ,interestingly , the VIP media people at the event, the people that have been flown in for the event from overseas are all bloggers.That’s been happening for 3 years now but this year there is no newspaper people, no magazine people and everywhere you look this week, there is bloggers everywhere,which is great and I think 2 years ago publicists were really kind of snobby and elitist about these interlopers that arrived on the scene but I think two years later they realized that what they (bloggers) have is space, a love of fashion and they blog a specific event. Everywhere you look these days you can see a blogger or a street blogger taking pictures.I actually overheard a conversation between a couple of photographers backstage that were bitching about bloggers and I mean I can understand because in some cases for the really good blogger photographers like Scott Shuman and Tommy Ton -all self thought- I mean they are taking jobs away from professional photographers .But if you have a good eye you can learn the technique but there is a lot of technique in photography.So for anyone dabbling in photography you realize it’s all about the lighting and that requires years of experience.Fortunately for me a professional photographer showed me how to adjust the settings ,which made my photos better (laughs)
TG: And when you were growing up were you a girly girl or were you a tomboy?
PH: A bit of a mix really.I grew up around horses and horsey girls ..are they sort of into one or the other? But I was always interested in fashion, I remember I used to always draw outfits (laughs) and ask my mother how I could pull them together .I’ve always had an interest in it but never really planned to work as a journalist, I kind of fell into that while living in Paris and my boyfriend at the time was a sound engineer on a radio station and I just started hanging around, doing voices and jingles and then I had a morning chat show (laughs)
TG: That is amazing!
PH: Yes it was an amazing magazine, the radio of a magazine that doesn’t exist anymore.
TG: The first time I heard about your blog was through models and there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding your work at the time and a bit of upset because of your comments on their personal lives. Do you feel like model’s lives should be as open game as any public figure? Basically what I’m trying to ask is..
PH: If they are fair game?
PH: Well look, you are a public figure ..I’ve done various things in my career and one of them was to work – there was a double page gossip page in the Sun Herald every Sunday called the Diary, I did maternity cover for Annette Sharp, and even though I did gossip and news- nothing is like doing a double page gossip about Sydney’s movers and shakers and their personal lives and by the end of the week I’d get the phone calls and people screaming down the end of the line and I was really twitchy . I remember editors telling me very good advice and that is that these are people who court publicity for commercial gain.When you are dealing with really young girls it’s slightly different but by the same token you are a public figure and I think people should be very careful in terms with the whole party lifestyle and stuff because they need to also remember they are role models for kids.You go to the Fashion Spot and even like the people who comment on my blog-these are teenage girls who are just obsessed with models and they look up to them. So it’s a responsibility and also they have their image to take care of..I mean I’m just a reporter , I’m not making anything up, I’m just reporting on what’s there and that’s the thing about the fashion business : it revolves around PR and hype and positive publicity and even if it’s not my opinion, even if you present someone with something that they’ve done or said they just don’t like it because they don’t want to take responsibility for it! So yes , i think they are a public figure .. and there is some boundaries.
TG: What was your highlight of fashion week? What was your favourite show?
PH: Well I loved Josh Goot last night,there has been a couple of great shows; Lover was amazing,Dion Lee was beautiful,Romance Was Born was extraordinary but Josh Goot was just really amazing because he is this designer who only launched 6 years ago did New York fashion week,did London fashion week and came back with this extraordinary production and it really was …,and so was Dion Lee’s production which was also extraordinary, but i mean (Josh Goot’s ) was just a really great collection,6 floors we had to climb and I think it’s great to see. The other thing this week i think is the whole model thing that has been building- I actually have a story in Wish magazine in the Australian today about the extraordinary army of models ,i think we have seen some amazing girls this week ..
TG: Yes like Julia Nobis who looked so beautiful…
PH:Oh yes Julia Nobis, she is like a rockstar! I was backstage at Yeojin Bae and she got into her first outfit and when she looked up she had her own personal photographer pit backstage and then she was swanning around in the red dress for the finale like she was at the Cannes film festival! (laughs) I mean she has done that in a year.Or a girl like MJ from Alice Springs who has never done Australian fashion week and she walked for Rodarte in New York, then this girl Anja (Konstantinova) she is 164 cm tall and everyone thought Bambi was Kate Moss sized but she is even smaller and she is just amazing,amazing face,amazing personality so yes-I think the model side of it has been very interesting too.
TG: Tell me do you have a lust worthy item at the moment?
PH: I loved the super wide trousers and I loved those dresses at Marni Skillings that were just gorgeous,that 70s vibe ,those maxi dresses-you would’ve thought that the maxi dress would’ve died a natural death by now (laughs)
TG: Thank you Patty