For someone who recently described Chrissy Teigan’s red-carpet gown as “gynaecological chic (FLAPS GALORE!)”, the red-carpet critic known as Fashion Critical is exceedingly friendly and polite over email.
“How nice!” she responds when PRIMER reaches out to request an interview in the lead-up to the Oscars. “Yes sure, that would be lovely.”
There’s only one condition: she insists the interview must be done over email to preserve her anonymity. For although Fashion Critical is arguably Australia’s most famous red-carpet critic, she is also the most mysterious.
Every awards season, Fashion Critical (or FC as she’s known to her followers) delivers a take-no-prisoners commentary on the glamorous gowns that trip down the red carpet. She pulls no punches, applies a liberal use of capital letters – and her 200,000+ Facebook fans adore her for it.
“Like, who actually sewed this?” she wrote last month of Scarlett Johansson’s Golden Globes dress. “STAND UP AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE”.
And yet no one has the faintest idea who she is. “Close friends and family know the truth,” she explains over email. “They are sworn to secrecy.”
“It’s more fun that way!” continues FC, who launched her Facebook page in 2011. “My followers BEG me to never reveal myself. It’s part of the mystique! My cover is that I’m an elderly street-sweeping man from Gundegai. But I’ve since revealed that I’m a woman. So how much of the rest is true? Who can say?”
But here’s what she could say about her approach to Hollywood’s night of nights.
P: How are you preparing for the Oscars?
FC: I’m trying to see as many of the Best Picture and acting films as possible as I like to feel in the know about who’s who in the zoo.
P: Whose outfits are you looking forward to seeing at the Oscars?
FC: The Oscars can be a bit conservative compared to some of the other awards shows. I most look forward to people getting it wrong, as that’s obviously more fun.
But I imagine the usual suspects will look immaculate – especially those up for nominations – either lead or supporting: Charlize is killing it, Zellwegger rarely gets it wrong and has a very distinct vintage Hollywood style that she nails every time, and it shall be interesting to see what Scarjo [wears], and our very own Margot Robbie of course. I’ll also be keen to see what Billy Porter wears after his amazing Tuxedo dress last year.
P: What inspired you to start Fashion Critical?
FC: I literally don’t know. I think everyone has that voice in their heads when they see a celebrity on the red carpet. I’m the voice out loud. I say what everyone else is thinking. Ultimately, I wanted to make people laugh, I guess. But it certainly wasn’t a well-thought-out idea – I just started doing it one day on my personal page. And then I decided to name it.
P: Why do you think that people love looking at red carpet photos so much?
FC: I think we know how privileged celebrities and the lives of excess they’re afforded. They have more money than most of us could ever dream of and access to the best style teams on earth – so it’s equally amazing to see how magnificent they can look and also how ridiculous, if they get it wrong.
I always say that fashion is an art – and all art is open to critique.
P: Have you ever felt bad about critical comments you’ve made about celebrities’ outfits?
FC: NUP! The only time I feel bad is when someone looks like maybe they didn’t use a stylist – they’re not quite famous enough or they’re somebody’s partner. I generally will just NOT comment on them in that case. Because they’re doing their best and if they’re not full celebrity, I don’t really consider them fair game.
There’s a major grey area with the Brownlow Medal which is one of the most popular red carpets on the Australian calendar. It doesn’t sit well with me because most of the girls are just regular folk – not WAGS with gigantic Instagram followings. The people demand the album, but I’ll always be far more gentle on those lasses – because they didn’t ask for the attention (most of them anyway!). Those who have generated their own celebrity from their husband or partner’s career are in a different category though.
P: In recent years, there have been calls for journalists to concentrate less on women’s outfits and more on the films that they’re there to promote. It’s been suggested that focusing on their outfits is anti-feminist. What do you think?
FC: I think it’s different interviewing the talent on the red carpet and commenting on the fashion on a fashion page or in a fashion mag. Which is about, um, fashion. On the red carpet they’re there to talk about their films and their work but there is no DOUBT that the entire red-carpet machine is about the clothes, the designers, the jewellers, the makeup artists – the LOT. Everyone’s in there to make a buck. I’ve written about this in the past – the red carpet is a business from which EVERYONE profits, including the actors themselves.
But if I were a journalist on the red carpet and chose to comment ONLY on the clothes and not the work of the person – then yeah, I think that’s pretty shit.
P: Have you been contacted by designers or women who have appeared in Fashion Critical over the years? What have they said?
FC: Indeed! A few have reached out that are HUGE fans! Stylists too! They get super excited if they get a positive comment but I think they also know how to laugh if they don’t – it’s a comedy page. They get it.
P: Lots of your readers add their own comments under your captions. Why do you think people (women) love to give their opinion on red carpet outfits?
FC: I think on FC, people are extremely witty and funny and it’s almost a competition of who can be the funniest. My word, there are always comments that crack me up and that are a thousand times funnier than what I said. And it’s not just the women either – while 95 per cent of my followers are female, there are a few men in there who give the ladies a run for their money.
People have provided their opinions of red-carpet fashions since the DAWNING OF TIME – this is just another way to do it. It’s like sitting around with 200,000 friends and having a gossip.
You can follow Fashion Critical on Facebook (we do!)