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So What Do You Do, Faran Krentcil, Editor, Fashionista.com?

'We chase the younger designers, the messier celebrities,' says this editor/blogger ahead of her second Fashion Week lived online

- September 5, 2007

Fashionista.com editor Faran Krentcil (right) with model Agyness Deyn.
Despite an around-the-clock work schedule and a standard daily reading diet of at least 26 Web sites, Fashionista.com editor Faran Krentcil swears she's "not on crack." Trading fashion reporting for The Daily for blogging Fashionista.com into existence early this year, her editorial focus now requires her to reach a younger audience that "care[s] more about Jessica Stam than Jessica Simpson." Prior to her second New York Fashion Week at the helm of Fashionista -- one in which she'll lead a "fashion army" rather than cover the endless cycle of shows and parties solo -- Krentcil told us about the intimacy she curries with readers, even while covering an aspirational industry that keeps so many at arm's length, marveled at fashion mags' many missed opportunities, and revealed her own fashion media crush.
Name: Faran Krentcil
Position: Editor, Fashionista.com
Education: Duke '03
Hometown: Andover, MA
First job: From ages 10-18, I was a working actress. Mostly theater.
Last three jobs: Editor, Fashionista.com; senior writer, The Daily; fashion
contributor, New York (Web site, still going...)
Birthdate: August 8
Marital/relationship status: Not today
First section of the Sunday Times: Styles
Favorite TV show: WKRP in Cincinnati
Last book read: Summer's Crossing, by Truman Capote
Guilty pleasure: Flats with pants


It's your second New York Fashion Week as editor of Fashionista.com. What will you be doing differently this time around?
Fashionista.com was two weeks old during the last Fashion Week. Everything was very seat-of-our-pants, and I wrote the entire site from 4 a.m. - 8 a.m. Plus, I felt like I had to be at every show, because our brand was new, and I was its only representative.

This time, we have a "fashion army" covering the shows with me. That's fun for me -- more breathing room -- and fun for you -- more points of view. We have stronger brand recognition, but the seat-of-our-pants vibe will stay, because it's our signature.

I'm also guest blogging for Teen Vogue this season. They'll link back to Fashionista and we'll link back to them. I'm so excited!

You were a reporter at Fashion Week Daily, prior to being hired by Elizabeth Spiers as Fashionista.com's inaugural editor. How did you and Elizabeth initially connect, and what were your early conversations about Fashionista like?
I got a text from a friend -- nobody in fashion, just a guy who's good with his liquor. It said, "Elizabeth Spiers is looking for you." And I texted back, "So what?" I was exhausted -- I just wanted to write a book and a few plays, and breathe.

But I met her anyway, because I was curious. Our initial conversations were about voids in the Internet fashion world; what people wanted to read that didn't exist yet.

How close is today's blog to that original vision?
Well I think in the very beginning, Elizabeth expected the site to be little more caustic, but I never gave into that expectation because it seemed too obvious, and also very far from my own style.

For me, looking at our January archive now is like seeing a baby picture. You recognize small bits of who we are, and understand how we've grown. But we didn't have an editorial goal in the beginning, except to reach the girls and become part of their routines. And that's happened.

Which are your closest competitors, and what sets Fashionista.com apart?
In advertiser meetings, we're put against magazine Web sites a lot. But we're obviously quite different from those outlets, and I don't consider them to be editorial competition. We have a rougher feel, so our connection to readers is more intimate -- and certainly more volatile. They take things very personally with us -- or I should say, with me! It's as if we're a favorite indie band that everyone thinks they've discovered on their own...

How do you think the fashion print media is handling the Web? Which outlets are getting it right, and which have a ways to go?
I talk about this every day. Print media has so much access and they don't take advantage of it! Magazines take hundreds of photos that never get used. Letting all that beautiful information disappear -- it's like the Internet answer to wasting gourmet food.

When Elle put Lindsay Lohan cover outtakes on their Web site, I was like, "Finally!" And TeenVogue.com does a nice job of behind-the-scenes slideshows from cover shoots. But there can be even more. Also, the Web could acknowledge a simple fashion truth -- magazines exist to sell things.

When I see a fashion spread online, I want to click on the shoes, click on the dress, and go buy them. ShopVogue allows you to do this, but only with ads -- I don't want the ads! I want the shoes that Lily Cole is wearing on page 243! You know?

"Our contributors are really just the girls we wanted at our lunch table, so to speak."

Elizabeth left Fashionista.com's parent network, Dead Horse Media (which she co-founded) in mid-April. How has that affected your day-to-day?
Elizabeth wasn't very involved in Fashionista's day-to-day, so there hasn't been a big blip in our routine.

You've run more international coverage in the past few months, as well as gotten more people filing to the blog in general. How do you find and vet contributors who complement Fashionista?
We want to keep Fashionista a very social experience -- but not in a MySpace way. Our site is based on the idea of girls passing notes under the table. But instead of notes about boys and teachers, they're notes about clothes, designers, models...

Everyone remembers that initial feeling of getting a note. It meant you instantly belonged to a clique, and to a conspiracy. So our contributors are really just the girls we wanted at our lunch table, so to speak. They were all readers of the site before they became part of our group, and when they contacted me, it was very clear they understood how they fit into Fashionista's world. Right now, that's more important than a resumé.

As for the tone of the site, it's very easy: We write the way we talk.

What's coming up for the site?
Near future: Redesign. The content won't change, but the site is going to look incredible. This happens within the next two months.

Far future: Look for more TV, more visual components, and more personal parts of the site that you can only access by invitation.

Walk us through a typical non-Fashion Week day, starting with the first things you read each morning...
Well, the fun/sad thing is, I'm always working. Whenever I read, shop, party, watch TV, walk to Whole Foods, whatever, I'm always thinking how it could fit into our site. I don't start or end my working day; the work winds through my life.

At some point every day, I will read all of the following for work:

Style.com, Vogue.com, WWD.com, Elle.com, Nymag.com, Runway.blogs.nytimes.com, Teenvogue.com, Nylon.com, Fashionweekdaily.com, Vogue.co.uk, Vogue.fr, Style.it, TheFashionSpot.com, Fabsugar.com, Dazeddigital.com, Vmagazine.com, Showstudio.com, Myspace.com/fashionistadotcom, Technorati.com, Gawker.com, Jezebel.com, Netaporter.com, Bluefly.com, Topshop.com, Forever21.com, and Flickr.com.

I swear I am not on crack.

Back in 2005, you told us about your crazy Fashion Week production schedule at the Daily. How does blogging the shows and related events for Fashionista compare?
Fashionista lives for its readers, and our readers are younger than The Daily's. We build our stories around what they want to know, and so our Fashion Week coverage begins with a question:

"If you're 26, if you're obsessed with fashion but also have a life beyond it; if you care more about Jessica Stam than Jessica Simpson; what do you want to know?"

So we chase the younger designers, the messier celebrities, the 5 a.m. models... and we show everyone our experience through smeared eyeliner, because it's how our girls already frame their lives.

My job now is to get that experience, over and over again, during Fashion Week -- and then to imagine 50 different ways to share it online.

Another difference between my work at The Daily and Fashionista is that now, I don't have a boss. Imagine the difference...

To go all Daily on you: What are your personal Fashion Week survival tips?
Be really polite, remember to eat, realize your seating assignment and your self-worth aren't connected, and go to at least one party just for fun.

Best and worst experiences covering Fashion Week?
Best: This is so expected, but I always think Marc shows are best because they remind me of great theater -- a group of people coming together to experience communal beauty. You leave thinking you've seen the world change. It's a rush.

And I'd be lying if I didn't say that meeting celebrities is hysterical. Once, Hilary Duff gave me a ride in her car. It was a really fun drive, though I never wrote about it -- I just told my mom.

Worst: Last year, I asked Ashley Olsen if I could interview her for The Daily. She said no. Actually, she gave me this HUGE smile, and said, "But I hope you have a nice day!" You know, in her Olsen voice? I was SO mortified. And she SO didn't want me to have a nice day. I'm still haunted.

Which big fashion media name is as intimidating as the grapevine would have us believe, and who's actually a big teddy bear, contrary to his/her reputation?
Cathy Horyn is so funny and so cool. I wouldn't call her a "teddy bear" -- in fact, I think you wrote this question specifically to discuss André Leon Talley (Not consciously. -Ed.) -- but she just crackles. She's like the conversational equivalent of Pop Rocks candy. I have a huge fashion crush on her.

Conversely, I find Carine Roitfeld to be the only fashion editor who can freeze you. Her clothes are so incredibly die-hard that she can invoke the "I'm-not-good-enough" feeling if you're in a casual outfit. But you have to get over it, because you'll never dress like Carine.

How do you handle hanging with fashion editors whose clothing budgets are the size of some bloggers' annual salaries?
My father is the inventor of toaster strudel.


Rebecca L. Fox is mediabistro.com's managing editor. She can be reached at Rebecca AT mediabistro DOT com.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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