Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Writer Stephen Fried apologizes for inventing the word 'Fashionista'

Former Philly Mag editor Stephen Fried says he's sorry for inventing the word "Fashionista."

Writer Stephen Fried apologizes for inventing the word 'Fashionista'

Kristin Davis (left) stars as  Charlotte York-Goldenblatt, Cynthia Nixon (center left) stars as  Miranda Hobbes , Kim Cattrall (center right) stars as  Samantha Jones  and Sarah Jessica Parker (right) stars as Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex and the City."
Kristin Davis (left) stars as Charlotte York-Goldenblatt, Cynthia Nixon (center left) stars as Miranda Hobbes , Kim Cattrall (center right) stars as Samantha Jones and Sarah Jessica Parker (right) stars as Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex and the City."

What's this? The person who invented the word "Fashionista" is from Philly?

Stephen Fried, the former editor-in-chief of Philly Mag, says he's sorry for inventing the word "Fashionista." In a recent Atlantic piece titled, "I Apologize for Inventing the Word 'Fashionista' 20 Years Ago," the writer chronicles how he invented the word in 1993 when he penned a book titled, Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia. The subject of Fried's book was one of the world's first supers, a beautiful, young model named Gia Carangi, who was born and raised in Philadelphia. After battling an intense drug addiction, Carangi died in 1983 from AIDS-related complications at the age of 26.

Fried, who chronicled the life of Carangi and the makings of the fashion industry in the '70s and '80s, needed a word for the designers, models and people he would encounter for his work. The writer later coined a slang term by adding an "-ista" to the end of fashion.

He writes, "Since I was re-reading a lot of the newspapers and magazines from the period of Gia's supernova career in the late '70s and early '80s, and remembering a lot of coverage of Sandanistas (and a lot of "–ista" jokes among my mag writer friends), I just decided to try it."

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Fried writes that the word, which only appeared four times in Thing of Beauty, was not received favorably by several people, including his wife, linguista author Ben Yagoda, and New York Times book critic and fashion editor Carol Kramer. He writes that Kramer, "b-tch-slapped me for 'fashionista,' saying 'he makes up corny labels, too.'"

Unfortunately for Fried's critics, the word "Fashionista" was further boosted in 1998 when HBO created a biographical film on Carangi's life starring Angelina Jolie. It became mainstream once it was inducted to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) in 1999. The new addition prompted the New York Times Magazine to run a piece on the makings and meanings behind the word, which the publication said was "embedded in the lexicon of fashion insiders."

Fashion news site Fashionista, meanwhile, wrote a response to Fried's apology stating:

"You may not have heard of Stephen Fried, but apparently we owe him a lot–everything, in fact, when it comes to our name. Well, according to him anyway."

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