Cathy Horyn told us the full-page ad Oscar de la Renta placed in WWD responding to her critique of his Spring 2013 collection — in which she refers to him as a "hot dog" — was the result of one big misunderstanding.
"I used the term in a professional context, as someone showing off his tricks, like a surfer," Horyn said in an email. "I thought an ad was a little over-the-top."
Hotdogging was coined as a surfing term in the '50s and generally described surfing "for flash rather than function." De la Renta's collection had plenty of flash: graffiti embroidery snaked over a lace suit jacket and dress, little cloth-covered beads hung from strings on a cardigan and a full ball gown, and the fluttery effect of one cocktail frock was created by sewing individually cut white flowers with red piping all over a strapless white A-line dress.
The designer's response to Horyn's critique was a little less flowery. The open letter reads in part, "I respect and accept criticism because in many ways it does help us develop; I try to make my work better each time. What I do not accept is when criticism is personal. If you have the right to call me a hot dog why do I not have the right to call you a stale 3-day old hamburger? My advice to you is to abstain from personal criticism. Professionals criticize the clothes, not the people."
Horyn's original critique said, "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. . . . It was wonderfully cantankerous, a good bit of window-dressing for the gooey stuff that followed."
She may have intended to be positive, but this isn't the first time that Horyn's criticism has gotten her in hot water with designers. Giorgio Armani banned Horyn from his shows in 2008, complaining in a letter to her editor about the "unnecessarily sarcastic comments" on his friends and family at his Spring 2008 couture show and saying that he "rarely found positive remarks" in Horyn's reviews. She's also been banned from shows by Dolce & Gabbana, Helmut Lang, and Carolina Herrera.
In 2010, Horyn wrote quite plainly that Alexander Wang "is not a great designer," but she was still seated at his show the next season.
We've reached out to representatives for Oscar de la Renta for a comment on Horyn's clarification and will update this post when we hear from them. For now, the original full-page ad below.