|An RCFA photo by Kallon|
featuring Chanel & Uma Thurman
You probably don't know who Catherine Kallon is, but you do know her work. Everyone does. No matter what Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour and Diana Von Furstenburg say.
They're going to miss her the most. They just don't know it yet.
Because Kallon is the one woman force that is the Red Carpet Fashion Awards - and she's shutting the whole site down. And when I mean down... I mean down. As in - you'll never see, read or view anything she's ever posted again.
Because she's hasn't quit writing. She's quit completely. On January 14th, the whole site goes black. As in dark... pitch dark.
I know what that means, but I get the distinct impression that no one else does, because if they did, they'd be freaking out. Big time.
Right now, when you Google the terms "chanel," "couture," and "red carpet" in an attempt to see what Lagerfeld's designs look like in real life, or to get a closer look at them, or to see how they look in a more 'ready-to-wear' state... you'll find that 90% of the photos Google pulls up are those of Kallon's creation.
That's a seriously impressive number. Even Vogue hasn't created a following like that. But people don't understand or recognize this for a number of reasons. First, Kallon doesn't put her name all over her site like most other authors do. She doesn't put her name in the .jpg's title, she doesn't put her name on the photo in a way that isn't removable, etc. etc.
But the real culprit is that thousands of site's around the world copy Kallon's work and post it as their own.
I myself have posted photos from her site, but I've always provided links and references to the RCFA, but most fashionista's and photojournalists and bloggers just don't bother. They think that if it's on the web, it's theirs to play with. That's why some bloggers put their watermark across the photos - but not Kallon. And you know why? Because she's dedicated her life to the art of fashion.
A watermark would destroy the beauty. A watermark would make it seem like she's claiming rights over dresses that, as she puts it, 'some designers pour 600+ hours' into the making of them. She's never placed herself before the art of high fashion or couture.
May she should have. Because the fashion industry has seriously taken her for granted. The majority of money she made on the site was through connecting customers who actually bought the clothing she pictured.
And that was no small number. From her earliest days, fashion was making a mint off her site. But instead, fashion heads retaliated with ugliness - ever increasing ugliness. And I am 99.9% positive that they are the reason she's leaving, not her overwhelming amount of followers.
The fashion industry isn't known for giving credit where credit is due. As much business as she brings them, they don't acknowledge it. At all. The only thing the fashion industry gives Catherine Kallon, despite the millions she's made them over the last decade, is grief.
A lot of grief. Because the fashion industry isn't just known for being unfair - it's known for being uncivilized - severely uncivilized...
First, they choose you - you don't choose them. You can't earn your way in through talent (take Siriano and just about every female designer in the last three decades). Instead, you have to earn it through deprivation, sex, drugs, addiction or most likely, a combination of all four.
Oh, there was a time when talent got you somewhere, but that died in the mid-80's when fashion became mainstream and those who'd made it just didn't want to give up any of their power - not to anyone. And so began the reaping of designers who had little to no vision who were also willing to "play the game" - as in their game.
What's "their" game? Allowing anything from breaking contracts without retribution (one contract by a major house promised $100 million but really only delivered $1 million to a new designer for their designs), closing up shop upon their request, and literally handing over designs, money, models - whatever they ask whenever they ask to the already successful from the newly arrived.
Oh yes, the higher ups are brutal to each other, but think of all the major houses who began in the mid-80's... and which ones began since then? I rest my case.
With such uncivilized kings and queens reigning over the fashion industry, it's no wonder that their minions are uncivilized. At a recent New York Fashion Week, a daughter of some client literally slapped a usher across the face - and hard. "How dare you speak to my mother that way!" they spat. What had the usher done? Told them they had the wrong seat and asked them politely to move.
Wow. That's actually punishable by law. It's a crime. But no one batted an eye. And with such incivility happening publicly, one can only wonder at what happens behind closed doors. I'm somewhat thankful to be privy to some of it, because I'm never left wanting more of it when I hear the stories close.
So it makes sense that this industry drives away so many hopefuls. Story after story pours in from bloggers to YouTube gurus who have millions of followers by the way, telling of their original dreams of participating in fashion... only to run away quickly in the face of the ugliness.
"Who could have thought such beauty would be all rotten inside?" one said, sipping a hot cup of coffee, "I didn't like the people. I hated them, in fact. So I gave fashion up."
And that's exactly what DVF, D&G and Marc Jacobs want to hear. Stay away. It's all about us. And you are most certainly not us.
In walks Catherine Kallon. Someone they hadn't heard of, didn't know and didn't want to know. (Who do they want to know, by the way? Mirrors?) Not only that, but she committed the greatest fashion sin of all: she brilliantly discovered a market that... well... they hadn't.
Well, that's one argument anyway. But when I think about it, I realize that they very likely had thought of it - in their dreams. Well, not their dreams - their nightmares.
Why would her site be a nightmare to them? Because she was covering their most precious commodity, the red carpet, but even worse, they had no say!
They weren't controlling it from behind closed doors. Unlike everything else covering the red carpets out there, from People, to E! to Elle, they weren't picking who or what would be covered.
Not only that, but she did it well. She was talented. She had a great eye. And she gave an incredibly vast array of information none of us ever even knew existed. It was heaven for us. It was hell for them.
In a recent article, Kallon talks about how, in the beginning (2007), only a few designers were being featured at the very few events that were being held. Now, she says, there's a myriad of events every single night, and most importantly, a new myriad of designers being used.
And here's the thing she just doesn't get. This is her doing. She opened the door for everyone. She created this new, amazing and multi-faceted world of fashion and color. Without her, we never would have had a thirst for more - more - more! Without her, stylists wouldn't have tried to do something new or branch out of the ordinary.
She was the showcase the world looked to, and therefore stylists tried new and unheard of ways to be featured in that showcase. Thus a whole new world was born. A world in which she silently reigned, behind the scenes, letting the art speak for itself.
In short, Catherine Kallon let fashion soar the way that it should have been for the last 30 years.
Dior would have been proud. So would have Chanel. But today's higher ups just don't get that. You know what they will get? The big picture... when their pocket books are hit.
Because even if she gave rise to a whole new generation of designers we never would have known about before - and even if she did let "color" in to the red carpet, by actually posting pictures of actresses and actors from Shanghai to Madrid to South Africa... letting us see fashion as a global world, not merely a white one like Wintour shoves down our throats every month (no, the Carters and the K's don't count!)...
Even if she did all of these things, she brought a deluge of wealth upon the ateliers and other houses on high! What happens now, when Karl loses 90% of his looks on a google search? And what happens when the pictures left don't link us viewers to a page we can buy the looks on?
Have they ever thought of that? No.
Because when a site goes "dark" everyone, that means every photo, every post and every link from the last 10 years will be gone from the web completely. You will go to the site, and nothing will come up. Nothing. You will find Catherine Kallon nowhere. It will be as if the RCFA had never existed.
And honestly, if we think about it, we know what that means...
Fashion will no longer exist.
Not the way we wanted it. Not the way we bought it. It will be dead. A generation of fashionistas will be obliterated in half a second. And, as the saying goes, you don't know what you have until it's gone.
On January 14th,
the world of fashion will find out what they have lost.
They will find out that they persecuted the wrong person. They bit the hand that feeds them. They will learn what they have lost. And hopefully, hopefully... they will beg her to come back. They will make it worth her while. They will beg on hands and knees.
Because we all need her. Not just the world of fashion, but the world... the whole world in general. And that is a very precious gift indeed. Let us honor Catherine Kallon with a bow. She's earned it. Even from Karl himself.
PS- My husband, upon reading this piece, asked me "Can't you just download the photos you really love before the site is gone?" To which I simply replied with a sad smile, "Oh honey. You have no idea. That's absolutely impossible." For how do you sift through 500,000 photos, half a million images of dreamy loveliness... ever? No. My dear husband. He was sorely mistaken.