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November 13, 2017 1:00 pm

New York Times Writes the Jews Out of the Fashion Industry

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The New York Times is writing the Jews out of the fashion industry.

That’s how I read a New York Times article in the Thursday Styles section. The print headline was “Faith and Fashion,” and the online headline is “The Costume Institute Takes On Catholicism.”

The article is a preview of what the Times calls a “blockbuster 2018 fashion exhibition” at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Usually a “blockbuster” is something that’s a big commercial success. The Times’ willingness to declare this exhibit a “blockbuster” before it even opens is an indicator of the sloppy thinking and reporting in the rest of the piece.

The passage in the Times article that concerns us here, though, is this one, about the exhibit’s curator, Andrew Bolton:

Bolton had been thinking about doing a show on the connections between fashion and religion for years — since “the culture wars of the 1980s,” he said — but only became serious about it at the Met around two years ago. At that point, he had conceived it as an examination of the five world religions represented in the museum’s collections (Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam)….

he postponed the project, and later decided to more narrowly define his topic, in part because he found that the majority of Western designers (and there are only three non-European or American-based names in the exhibition) were engaged in a dialogue with Catholicism. Perhaps because, as Mr. Bolton noted, so many Western designers were raised Catholic, including Elsa Schiaparelli, John Galliano, Riccardo Tisci, Christian Lacroix, Coco Chanel, Jeanne Lanvin, Norman Norell, Thom Browne and Roberto Capucci, among others. (Mr. Bolton is also Catholic.)

Jewish designers, in other words, aren’t worth so much as a nod in the Met exhibit, let alone in the Times. Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Zac Posen, Marc Jacobs, Isaac Mizrahi, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Levi Strauss, Tory Burch, Kenneth Cole, Diane von Furstenberg, Anne Klein, Arnold Scaasi, Jacobi Press, Martin Greenfield — what are they, chopped liver? It takes a certain amount of nerve to claim that these folks were all “engaged in a dialogue with Catholicism,” or that the real “majority” story of fashion and religion is a Catholic story, and that Jews are just some sort of sideshow.

As if to prove my point, the Times mentions that the exhibit is being sponsored in part by Condé Nast and by Stephen Schwarzman. Schwarzman is Jewish and Condé Nast is controlled by the Newhouse family, which is also Jewish.

The Times article carries the byline of Vanessa Friedman, last seen here mangling the Exodus narrative. Friedman had no problem summoning the courage to challenge Bolton’s judgment in other areas. The Times article includes this passage:

Less has been done, seemingly, to defray the idea that Mr. Bolton’s definition of “fashion” is definitively Western. Save Isabel Toledo, who is Cuban-American, there are no South American or Latin American designers in the show, for example, though it is hard to imagine that no one else from that continent engaged with Catholic iconography. Challenged on the subject, he said he hoped to expand his purview in a future exhibition.

The Times is willing to stand up for “South American or Latin American designers.” The paper won’t speak up for the Jews, though, at least not in this particular article.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

 

 

 

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