Art Ortenberg, Cathy Horyn's longtime partner and co-founder of Liz Claiborne Inc., contributed his own two cents to the Oscar de la Renta hot-dog spat in a letter to WWD today. (No, he did not go the De la Renta route and take out a full-page ad, which Horyn deemed "over-the-top.") Here is what he wrote:
To the Editor:
True, Cathy Horyn is my girlfriend. Nevertheless, I feel it necessary to cudgel Gaga for her badly informed, dumbing-down opinion that an uninformed opinion is as valid as that of a seasoned critic — as though Gaga and Bridget Foley of WWD or David Denby of The New Yorker or Ben Brantley of The New York Times or Brooks Atkinson or Pauline Kael or any professional critic is just another opinion and that Gaga’s vacuous thoughts deserve the same status. Grow up, Gaga.
Ortenberg makes a very sound — and even obvious — point that Horyn's status as a highly informed, long-standing critical voice means that her word carries far more weight than your average schmo with a Twitter handle. This is why she is paid to write about her opinions and most other people are not. It's also sweet that he came to his girlfriend's defense.
But what's odd about Ortenberg's letter is that it addresses what Gaga wrote about Horyn in V magazine over a year ago, not the singer's role in the recent dispute Horyn had with De la Renta over her largely positive review of his spring 2013 show, in which the designer apparently misunderstood her usage of the expression "hot dog." (To review: Following Horyn's review, De la Renta ran a full-page ad in WWD condemning her criticism. Gaga tweeted her support for de la Renta this week, reviving interest in her denunciation of Horyn in last September's V, in which the pop star blasted the "predictability of the most notoriously harsh critics who continue writing their notoriously harsh reviews." Clearly, there's a lot of baggage here on all sides.)
While Ortenberg's argument is totally legitimate, it seems odd that he would chime in now, when Horyn arguably has no need to defend herself; De la Renta's beef can be summed up as a misunderstanding and subsequent overreaction on his part, as Horyn herself tactfully stated. Indeed, Ortenberg's defensiveness only exacerbates what has already been blown way out of proportion. [No applause necessary for our successful omission of an overcooked dead horsemeat joke here.]