Is Social Media Shielding Designers From Criticism?

Nicola Formichetti and Rico the Zombie

Mugler Creative Director Nicola Formichetti with his model and muse, Rick Genest, a.k.a. Zombie Boy, whom he met through Facebook.

Without Lady Gaga on the runway (she only appeared in video form this year), Nicola Formichetti’s second collection for Thierry Mugler garnered tepid reviews.  Yet one of the same reasons cited for Formichetti’s less-than-stupendous collection — too much commitment to the digital world at the expense of his actual clothes — might also be shielding the designer from his critics.

Formichetti maintains a direct, close relationship to thousands of fans via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and a personal blog — so basically, through every possible online avenue available.  After his most recent show, the stylist-turned-designer didn’t seem overly concerned with his less-than-stellar reviews. Instead, he admitted listening when bloggers and online fans dislike his work, noting the experience is akin to being criticized by a friend.

But does being so steeped in social media and blogger culture allow him to ignore professional fashion critics? Yes, using personal social networks to find everything from a muse (Formichetti met the tattooed model Rick Genest, a.k.a. Zombie Boy, through Facebook) to an architect is inherently cool.  However, for a stylist who just recently made the leap into designing, heeding both amateur and professional feedback would be wise.  And as designers across the board get further engaged with their online followings, it seems advisable not to conflate the words of fans with what the industry’s actual critics have to say.