A FASHION OUTSIDER’S DIVE INTO THE WORLD OF DIET PRADA
BY ERNA ADELSON
My style can be summed up in three words: Everlane, #Cloglife. Levi’s. I used to be about two years behind what’s trending, but Pinterest and Instagram have helped me shorten my lag time to about 10 months to a year. I read Man Repeller for the articles that are not about fashion, and Vogue mainly for the celebrity profiles and nonfiction, so when it comes to the subject of fashion, I know enough to know that I’m no expert. This was doubly confirmed when I was asked to write about the Instagram sensation Diet Prada. Until I googled it, I had no idea what that was.
Diet Prada, I quickly learned, is an social media-based crash course on the history of fashion. Founders Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler have an encyclopedic knowledge of every collection in what seems like all of history and a photographic memory, to boot. Their story is relatively well-known by now: they started as co-workers and shared a penchant for documenting the recycling of ideas in the fashion industry. Originally they operated anonymously, and their snarky tone combined with their genuine wealth of expertise and passion for the industry led to a following of over a million, with some fans calling themselves Dieters. They revealed their identities in an article in Business of Fashion, and have since both been dedicated solely to Diet Prada. Their mission, according to a piece in the New Yorker, is to re-stigmatize idea theft for a generation that has been raised on it.
After I got the story straight, I started to dig in to the Diet Prada archives, where I was educated in everything from references to film in fashion, the narrow vision of Hedi Slimane, vintage Balenciaga, 1950’s couture, and what I guess can be described as Stefano Gabbana’s terrible personality.
They were serving the cerulean monologue from The Devil Wears Prada over and over again, and in real time, I realized. And I was having my Andy Sachs enlightenment moment but without the shame that Miranda Priestly engendered in her ignorant assistant, because Liu and Schuyler aren’t just calling out me / the Andy Sachs of the world, but the fashion industry itself, which, thanks to a vicious consumption cycle, has come to count on people’s ignorance and / or apathy about what it’s become. I was awakened, but I was also in on it. The more soiled the laundry, the more I subscribed.
I had been following them for a couple of weeks when they blew the whistle on Kim Kardashian, suggesting that that the fast fashion brand Fashion Nova’s knockoff of Kim Kardashian’s archive Thierry Mugler dress was perhaps a little too fast. Was Kim leaking her wardrobe to the copycats in order to profit from the egregious cycle? they wondered, citing a post where the dress in question looked to be in production before Kim wore it in public. I should have been shocked, maybe even outraged at their suggestion, but now as a seasoned reader of Diet Prada, it seemed entirely plausible that this is how the fashion world worked. I was barely even surprised.
Kardashian has denied any relationship of the sort, decrying Fashion Nova for their impossibly fast knockoff. And now she’s reportedly suing a similar retailer, Missguided, for profiting from using her name and likeness to promote their products. (Diet Prada also speculated that she was leaking designs to Missguided). So, even Diet Prada’s takes should be supplemented with a healthy dose of salt and some of your own research. However, the duo should be credited for the fact that anyone who rushed to their favorite fast fashion site in order to buy the “Kim Dress” may have now heard that that the story of extreme cut-outs began way before a Kardashian wore them.
And, they have succeeded, in just a matter of weeks, of turning a self-proclaimed fashion outsider into a wizened old fashion skeptic. Although I won’t be giving up my clogs anytime soon, I now eagerly scroll Instagram, waiting for my next lesson in fashion history.