Journalist, fiction writer, and style columnist Vivian McInerny dishes New York Fashion Week gossip from her many years on the beat, talks brushes with Anna Wintour and Harry Connick Junior, her chat with Destiny's Child, plus some wild changes in journalism over five decades.
Some of the things we talk about: the technological changes in journalism that changed all our jobs; what Anna Wintour said to Vivian the first time they met and when she iced her; how no famous people used to go to Fashion Week and it wasn't cool when they started showing up; how fashion isn't about expensive brands, but about how you choose to express yourself, how all the journalists were trying to figure out Donald Trump's combover 30 years ago.
Vivian McInerny 00:00
So searching for the meaning of life naturally then led to fashion.
Fiona McCann 00:10
Welcome to We Can’t Print This
Eden Dawn 00:12
it is a podcast telling this story you don't know behind the story do know.
I'm Fiona McCann
and I am Eden Dawn.
Fiona McCann 00:22
And every week we interview a writer of some kind about the stories behind their stories. And please, if you'd like our podcast, we'd love it if you'd share it with a friend, or you can support us yourself on Patreon. For as little as $5 a month. You can find that at patreon.com/wecantprintthis.
Eden Dawn 00:41
And this week we have sort of my teen idol on Vivian McInerny. Vivian covered fashion for The Oregonian, including being our New York Fashion Week touchstone here from 1984 to 2015, quite the career long time and brings many of those stories from the runways to us today. And it was just such a treat. She also has quite the following on the creators, network Ello, where she regularly publishes new work, in addition to her short stories, often published in literary magazines. And she wrote the adorable children's book, The Whole Hole story published through Harper Collins. She's been very busy. She's been very busy for quite some time for a
Fiona McCann 01:29
long time. It's true. Yeah. And Vivian was so fun to talk to because she's been in the industry so long, and it turns out to have been a lot of change, a lot of changes.
Eden Dawn 01:38
And I feel like some of those changes lead to new jobs, you got hired because of new technology, right?
Fiona McCann 01:45
Yes, I did. Because I was hard to work in one of the few newspapers in the world that was like, Hey, guys, what if we put our newspaper on the World Wide Web? Wouldn't that be crazy. And they had this tiny little annex of an office where they were like, Let's hire a bunch of young people to put the newspaper on the World Wide Web. And it was so fun, because honestly, I think like 99% of the newspaper, like, I don't even know what these people do.They're the online people.
Eden Dawn 02:14
They're the online people working on Al Gore's internet, as I like to call it.
Fiona McCann 02:19
I mean, the great thing at that time, weirdly, was that nobody was paying any attention to what we were doing. So we used to like develop these little columns that would never have seen the light of day in the actual newspaper.
Eden Dawn 02:28
Right, right. Right. Oh, that's interesting. I also got hired because of new technology, because I got head hunted for my job as fashion editor where I had been at a local paper. And they wanted to start a blog. I mean, one of those weblog thingies because for a minute blogs were so hot and they were a weird democratization because there were so many people get it was also kind of early rise of influencers. When you think about it, there were all these people doing blogs that were getting these huge followings, like a bigger than printed traditional publications. And so then I feel like all of the magazines pay. Everyone's like, we gotta get a blog.
Fiona McCann 03:06
I know. And meanwhile, I was back over in the actual newspaper, they were still getting faxes, they still had one of these huge big reference books where you got all your phone numbers from before the internet side of things. We're all like Google baby. Google.
Eden Dawn 03:19
Ask Jeeves you mean? You're right. It turns out Ask Jeeves actually didn't know that much. He did not know as much as Google. No offense, jeez, I feel like WordleBot knows more than Ask Jeeves.
Fiona McCann 03:34
But the blogs were big for sure. And we all had to write blogs, I had to write an arts blog, and which won an award. Back in the middle of the heyday of blogs, it was all like everybody has to have a blog and we had millions of blog and then suddenly it was like blogs are dead. Forget about blogs,
Eden Dawn 03:50
They're dead. And then remember, it was like pivot to video everybody do video now video is so big. And then in the time that we work together. Video was big video was done video was big video was done. And then now it's like TiK Tok, Instagram reels, adjacent.
Fiona McCann 04:08
Well, even social media has been a big game changer as well. I remember when they were like, Okay, everybody needs to join Twitter. Yeah, it was really important. And then they were like, Wait, we don't have company rules about Twitter and all that had to be developed. And it was like, reused. Yeah,
Eden Dawn 04:23
yes, I forgot about that. Everything has changed so much. And that's in, you know, just a few years. But think of when you think about Vivian’s span how much more change and with the internet coming in the middle of that which was truly the biggest game changer and will continue to be and now we have AI and robots taking our jobs.
Fiona McCann 04:44
I know. I mean, the best thing to remember I think about being a journalist is just to know that no matter what you're doing, you will have to get ready for a big change somewhere. Somehow
Eden Dawn 04:53
that's true. And I want to take that back because when the robots rule us all, I want everything on the record to show that I was very
Fiona McCann 04:59
we love Robot robots I was on your side, are you we're not against you.
Eden Dawn 05:04
I do always say please. And thank you to all forms of AI because I just went like, you know what? They're doing a job too. And manners matter. And you never know who's going to have the power next. So never know. You never know. Yeah, everything has I think that is really good advice for young journalists, or old journalist. I'm not sure where we lie somewhere, hopefully, in between the two.
Fiona McCann 05:26
Yeah, but like, mainly young, honestly, even though I'm going to back now tell you about, like, all of these ancient rituals in the newspaper, when electricity was invented, and they had like a physical spike, where they were like, Oh, we're gonna have to spike that story, it meant they would like, pull the story off and put it on a spike, which mean that that story was killed. And they would have these like, typesetting very carefully. And then you could go down in the the ground floor of the newspaper building and just watch the printing presses, roll overhead was so exciting.
Eden Dawn 05:58
I love that I remember Mr. Rogers episode where they were like showing everything on the printing press and how exciting that was. I didn't, I didn't get to see that. But I mean, I did love in the magazine world where you would print off like, I'd work on this beautiful fashion feature. And then it would be printed up all big and you know, out on the wall where everyone would debate the does this one go before this one and move things around. And it was just a dreamy time that we were all in. And now,
Fiona McCann 06:25
I mean, times have changed for sure. And sometimes we can be looking back and going. That was a dreamy time before we had to do newsletters or that was a dreamy talk before I had her tweet everything. But there are some advantages to the modern journalistic methods, I think and one of them is we got our own podcast, which I think in the in the olden days of journalism, we'd win like knocking, pressing our noses against the glass panes of radio stations going can you let us in? I know we're a little flashy and stuff. But like we'd make a great show. But now we're like, just gonna make our own.
Eden Dawn 06:58
Just do it. I think that's a great segue for us to listen to Vivian. Tell us about all the days of yore, the yore days. Ye olde journalism,
Fiona McCann 07:09
journalism and faxes.
Ad Break ___________________________
Eden Dawn 07:11
Fiona, we have a new sponsor on the show today.
Fiona McCann 07:14
Yes, and we're totally chuffed because it's Betsy and Iya, which anyone who knows me knows I spend 99% of my life in their earrings. And I have three of their signature bridge inspired cuffs. And it's all designed and made here in Portland,
Eden Dawn 07:28
I have been writing about and wearing and obsessed with Betsy and Iya’s ready to wear jewelry since they started in 2008. And now they also make gorgeous fine jewelry, including custom pieces. And Betsy actually designed the Leo constellation wedding rings that my husband and I wear
Fiona McCann 07:44
Yes. And now you can support both our podcast and this rad family business by shopping with them through our special fancy link, which is Betsy and I a.com forward slash we can print this. I'm gonna spell it for you, BETSYANDIYA.com/wecantprintthis because you can probably spell that bit
Eden Dawn 08:05
use that special URL to automatically get 11% off your order of ready to wear but do not sleep on that fine jewelry either because it is good.
Fiona McCann 08:15
Thank you for joining us, Vivian.
Vivian McInerny 08:17
Thank you for having me.
Eden Dawn 08:18
I get to monologue for one second, because I'm so excited that you are here because I don't know that people will understand that you to me are so famous. You are so famous to me even
Vivian McInerny 08:32
I am sorry for the little life you have
Eden Dawn 08:35
Owwwww burned by our guest immediately. I mean, we've known each other for years now. But I think what people don't understand is that in Oregon growing up as a fashion kid, which I was that you were our gateway to fashion because this was pre internet. And Vivian off and on from now as we discussed 1984 to 2015, you were covering fashion week for us you were writing fashion columns. And that was all we had. And you were the person who would go to New York and live this glamorous life. It looked glamorous
Vivian McInerny 09:08
from the outside.
Fiona McCann 09:10
I mean, this is the monster that you
Eden Dawn 09:14
take responsibility for this.
Vivian McInerny 09:17
But I do think people think of Fashion Week is really glamorous. In fact, it's just bedlam.
Eden Dawn 09:23
It's once you've actually worked or covered fashion. Now I know right now. Now I've been a journalist long enough to know that it is in fact is not glamorous, and you're exhausted and you're there under deadline. But you did a wonderful job of making kids like me growing up in the country and then reading in the Oregonian what was going on in the world because it was the only way we knew we didn't have the internet. We didn't have blogs and Instagram and all this stuff where everyone now has immediate access to fashion instead we just waited with bated breath for McInerny to come back and write in the Oregonian and tell us what was up
Vivian McInerny 10:00
I feel like I should have used this power for better things than what to wear. You know?
Fiona McCann 10:05
No, that's important. It was.
Eden Dawn 10:08
And so we wanted to have you on today to talk a little bit. I mean, obviously Fiona and I are both journalists. And Fiona comes, especially from newspaper journalism, which has changed. I don't know if you know, changed a little bit in the last few years, which was
Vivian McInerny 10:22
Eden Dawn 10:26
but I really want to talk about this time in your career that I'm so enamored with, and I will try to not be a sycophant. I will do my best.
Vivian McInerny 10:36
No, go ahead, because
Eden Dawn 10:40
tell us the first fashion week you remember going to,
Vivian McInerny 10:43
ah, I think the first ones I went to the first few years, they were just kind of all over New York City. So instead of centralized in the tents, as they think a lot of people are familiar with that. They were just held fashion shows were held at hotel ballrooms, showrooms of restaurants just kind of anywhere. And you as a reporter would have to prove that you're a reporter, buy a list of the fashion shows from a woman called Eleanor Lambert, who started Fashion Press Week in 1943 and she was still doing it when I started in the 80s. So you would buy this list of where the shows were. And then if I think you then had to ask permission to come
Fiona McCann 11:38
ask for an invite, like a media pass or whatever.
Vivian McInerny 11:41
Yeah, except that it was each one individually. So it was such a pain, because you were literally with each show. And there were, you know, maybe 75 shows,
Fiona McCann 11:53
and you had to get a separate pass for each one. Yes. So glad for the internet.
Vivian McInerny 11:58
So it was really it was it was difficult, but it was really exciting. Because they were the things like you know, in a hotel ballroom in The Plaza was common venue, which was a beautiful ballroom. And that sounds fun. But there would be maybe up to 900 press people out of fashion show in a ballroom, the show would end. And then these 900 people would be running outside to get a cab to the next show that was way downtown.
Fiona McCann 12:30
to tear each other's eyes out. To get into those cabs. It was
Vivian McInerny 12:34
terrible, except that people from like Vogue that they had limos waiting for them have so but the rest of us Yeah, it was hard. It was tricky. And plus, because I was brand new to New York, I had no idea where he was going or what I was doing.
Eden Dawn 12:50
When did you start noticing the difference of because I also think now people are aware with it sort of culturally as this big. I mean, same thing with the Met Gala, which just happened is this like celebrity extravaganza, but it was it was an industry event, like Fashion Week was very much for journalists and buyers and not for famous people exactly.
Vivian McInerny 13:11
It started out really like a glorified trade show. And then they invited the press and but you know, 1943 have been a long, many years of it being quiet. And then I would say it actually was that first year that I went that I went to a Bob Mackie show and he was a designer. I know you've interviewed him right?
Eden Dawn 13:35
No, I haven't but god I would love to. Bob Mackie is just… You know who Bob Mackie is Fiona? Do you Do you not? It's okay. I have to check in with her because we have a cultural dissonance.
Fiona McCann 13:44
Or maybe I'm just ignorant but sometimes I pretend I know things. You know, share it. I can't seek you know, Bill now,
Eden Dawn 13:50
you know, every amazing outfit Cher has worn
Fiona McCann 13:52
This one I do know. Cher.
Eden Dawn 13:56
That's fine. Oh, when you think of Cher and sequins and hats and this like that's Bob Mackie. Okay, so he is no surprise, a gay man who is fabulous.
Vivian McInerny 14:08
So when he would have his shows he was really frowned upon by New York fashion because he was Hollywood. And he was glitzy
Fiona McCann 14:20
and they're not fun. Too gaudy for New York. Way to go. Yeah.
Vivian McInerny 14:23
But he was the first one who brought in celebrities because that's who he dressed. So when the first shows I went to Diana Ross was there. And as far as I was having her Yeah, there was no one bigger. She was somebody I grew up with. I mean, I really remember seeing her on TV when I was like eight years old and just her eyes were all glitter. She's stunning. So and the New York Press was really snotty about it. They actually wrote about like, how Bob Mackie was going to ruin that with this celebrities stuff. Little did they know And then by the 90s. When I went back, it was clearly you know, every designer had celebrities front row.
Fiona McCann 15:07
When you I mean, as a writer back then say in the 80s, you had to go and I don't know, I'm trying to remember what people do you had a recording device did you have like, how did you have a note?
Vivian McInerny 15:18
I just had a notebook. And then I had a camera later, actually, pretty early on. I had a camera. I didn't travel with a photographer because the photographers were just like, this. mass of people at the end of the rabbit photo pit is overwhelming. Yeah. And the idea of trying to get somebody else in there, it was just it was pretty impossible for regional paper. But they would let the, you know, writers in so
Eden Dawn 15:48
what were you turning around? What was the expectation? Like how many words per show what was this turnaround? Like
Vivian McInerny 15:53
it was? For the most part was daily. Okay. And they were short stories. This is embarrassing to admit, but I wrote in inches. So they were like, 12 inch story time, and I can't quite remember what that translates to. But they're short. I think there was a
Eden Dawn 16:10
12 inch column. Oh, say Oh, column at 12 inches. Yeah.
Vivian McInerny 16:13
So I think it was less than 800 words, probably like something like,
Fiona McCann 16:19
six or something. Yeah, that's amazing. It's still quite a lot of words. I mean, it's
Vivian McInerny 16:23
when you're going to shows all day. And then you're trying to synthesize all Exactly. That was the key thing was, I often was trained to write about how it would relate to what people in Oregon would be interested in. Yeah. And people weren't waiting like, well, except for eating. Now.
Eden Dawn 16:43
You did a marvelous job of that. Because the thing about regional journalism, which we all in this room love and support so much, is it isn't just about reporting the facts. So if that is part of it, but I think it's also reporting the facts in a way that you know, is important to your community of readers. Right, exactly. And that is a different thing. Because if you come back and you're like, here's the $20,000 Versace dress you should be wearing in Salem, Oregon. It's not going to get very far. That's like the here's the trends I saw.
Fiona McCann 17:13
You know, here's how to adapt them for rainy weather.
Vivian McInerny 17:18
Yeah, yeah, one point I remember, because the shows were always months in advance. So you would be in September, looking at spring and spring looking at fall. So at one point I started writing about, okay, here's what you can throw out of your closet, because probably no one's going to be wearing that next year. But hold on to this.
Fiona McCann 17:40
Oh, that's really useful. I could still use that. To be honest.
Vivian McInerny 17:43
It was also a way to you could get things on sale. So anyway, was
Eden Dawn 17:50
tell us about the hierarchy between because I imagine you spoke about a little bit of the snobbishness perhaps from the from the New York reporters towards Bob Mackie, but tell me about as the as a regional reporter from especially at the time Oregon did not quite have the fashion capital that it does. Now. Although Nike in the 80s was definitely coming of age. Did they treat you differently? I knew it.
Vivian McInerny 18:17
Absolutely. Not in a separate tent. But we had a group of regional press writers who really bonded and it was a wonderful group of people. And we called ourselves “The Fifth Row,” because there were only like six or seven rows. And we were always way back.
Fiona McCann 18:36
there. In the seventh row.
Vivian McInerny 18:39
Yeah, turns Yeah, probably. Sometimes me, sometimes me. But um, they were the front row was always the celebrities and the celebrity journalists like Anna Wintour. Yeah. And all the Vogue people, any magazine people,
Eden Dawn 18:56
you've interviewed Anna? More than once?
Vivian McInerny 18:59
I wouldn't say I interviewed her. I talked to her on the side of the runway more than once. And the first time I talked to her, you know, she has a reputation for being really cold and really mean. They called her “Chilly Wintour.”
Fiona McCann 19:15
Certainly had an unfortunate surname.
Eden Dawn 19:18
I think it's kind of badass, but kind of a badass name.
Vivian McInerny 19:22
But the first time I talked to her, I introduced myself as I do. And she said, Vivian, my best friend growing up was named Vivian. And I thought that was such a sweet thing for her to say it immediately makes you feel welcome. Yeah. Is your best friend Vivian.
Fiona McCann 19:39
Oh, but I just imagined her and then ground her to the ground.
Vivian McInerny 19:43
Which unfortunately I read later, she she did. And and then another time, I spent her several times on the side of the runway and she was always, you know, fine. And then one time, I asked her a question, and she did just completely frost me. And it was so intimidating. I had to ask I think I asked something down like a general question. And she did not like being an Oracle. And that was not the way to talk to Anna. If you had a specific intelligent question, she was fine.
Eden Dawn 20:21
She had no time for florals for spring. Groundbreaking
Fiona McCann 20:25
Vivian McInerny 20:26
Yeah. I think it was actually her her dad's nickname, but it fit with her smile. Wow. Yeah, he's
Fiona McCann 20:33
still you can still be nice. Is all I'm saying. Yeah, don't have to be rude.
Eden Dawn 20:38
She has been there. Now. I can't even I mean, decades. I don't know how long she has been.
Vivian McInerny 20:45
Yeah, I don't either. But 30 years, I would think/
Fiona McCann 20:48
We're gonna have to get her on “We Can’t Print This”
Eden Dawn 20:53
She’s not coming in now. Because we talked about Chilly Wintour.
Vivian McInerny 20:56
Just do not ask her like what's in style right now. She will ice you until you're frosted is quite a difficult question to answer. Yeah. And it's too vague. It's just open. But but she was she was wonderful other times. And I talked to so many people on the side of the runway, and they're not quite interviews. But you know, we're talking before the show.
Eden Dawn 21:19
And everybody's in like, in Zoolander, all on their runway. Yeah, sitting at the pristine white runway waiting for it. And you would just run up to them and kneel down and say, Can I get a quote from you.
Vivian McInerny 21:31
Basically, okay, kneel down for you before, and I did it, because for the weirdest, longest time? Nobody. I know this sounds surreal. But nobody was going down and talking to the celebrities. They just will I don't know if they thought they should respect their space. So I did not.
Eden Dawn 21:52
I did. You're very polite. So it's not I mean, you went up politely.
Vivian McInerny 21:56
I did go up politely
Fiona McCann 21:57
In journalism to you know, sometimes, yes. To just have to be the person who just Yeah, yeah.
Vivian McInerny 22:03
And one of the one, the early one that I did is I saw these three young girls standing by the side of the runway, and they were wearing gold lamé jackets. And this was not a cool look. This was maybe early 90s. They were very noticeable. And so I went up to them and said, like, are you in a band? And the girl goes, well, we're not really in a band, but we do sing. And I said, oh, and I said, and so that's why you're writing the matching outfits. And she said, Yeah, my mom thought we should wear it. So people would know we were in this group. And I said, that makes sense. And I took her picture. And all three of the young women were gorgeous. But the one in the middle was just had something, a real aura. It was Beyonce.
I knew it was Beyonce!
Eden Dawn 22:55
Fiona just looked like the sun came up from behind a cloud and shone upon her and she was
Vivian McInerny 23:01
I mean, they were really young. They did have a song up, but they were not well known yet. I had to ask how to spell her name. Yeah.
Eden Dawn 23:11
We didn’t know how to spell Beyonce then. So Tina Knowles had made all their little jackets? She
Vivian McInerny 23:16
Yeah, yeah. She was pretty amazing. Another time I was at a Tommy Hilfiger show, and waiting to check in. And the guy in front of me, says, the guy's like, guy with the Clipboard is like, name. He goes, Connick. He goes, you're not on the list. And he goes, No, I'm, I'm sure I'm on the list. He goes, What's your first name? Is Harry. And the guy goes, no, no, there's not Harry Connick on the list. And seriously, you're like, I know. Yes. Add the Jr. Will that help? And so, Harry Connick Jr. was so humble. He just kind of nods and walks away like, okay, I guess I'm not going into the fashion show. And I walked over to him and said, hey, you know, this is the press table. That's why you're not on the list. You should just go directly backstage. And so he goes, Well, how do I do that? And I'm like, let me take you. So I did. I just took him to the entrance of the backstage I didn't try to push it.
Took him to the entrance of the backstage
Fiona McCann 24:24
Eden is doing very serious air quotes right now.
Eden Dawn 24:32
I told you I grew up in religious school, which means we can make anything so dirty.
Vivian McInerny 24:38
Oh, my God, I'm embarrassed.
Fiona McCann 24:40
He went easy on the eye. So and
Vivian McInerny 24:45
He was kind of the height of his fame. I think he was even on Will & Grace then. Anyway, he was great. Yeah, and he was such a sweet man. And so when later when he was sitting out in the in the, you know, audience and I went and talked to him and he was very sweet. So I have high regard for him.
Eden Dawn 25:05
Tommy owes you a debt of gratitude because he would have been absolutely so mortified had he been turned away from his show.
Vivian McInerny 25:13
And his people were so rude. I don't really,
Fiona McCann 25:16
but also I kind of love that Harry Connick Jr. was like, Okay, then I'm gonna make a big, big scene about it. Yeah. Yeah. Nice, man. Did you always have an interest in fashion? And then the journalism came next? Or were you a journalist to amend the fashion came next? Like, how does that?
Vivian McInerny 25:35
Yeah, I have the very typical way of becoming a journalist of fashion journalist. I went to a school for eight years wearing a uniform, so I knew nothing about fashion.
Fiona McCann 25:45
So there's things you can do with a uniform turns out, yeah, roll it for ranking.
Vivian McInerny 25:52
And then I went to The Hunger Games, that is public school. And then I just went fashion, bananas, just like would follow trends. And then I guess like every high school or now I went through Minneapolis racks where I grew up, there was a secondhand store, and Minneapolis Rags, you would buy everything by the pound. So I would go down there with my boyfriend, and we would just load up on I was really into beaded sweaters like 1940s sweaters, and black crepe dresses with shoulder pads. I must have looked ridiculous in high school. But that was my introduction to fashion. And then after I went through a really, I can make fun of it now, but seriously, bad, existential crisis. All I knew is I wanted to see the world. So I saved up every penny I earned at the mall. And I went to Europe first. And then I met a boy. And we ended up traveling through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India. And I was in Nepal for a little over a year. So searching for the meaning of life naturally then led to fashion,
Fiona McCann 27:12
fashion the answer?
Eden Dawn 27:14
That's clearly the answer, the identical story of how I led to fashion.
Vivian McInerny 27:19
It is funny though, I think there is something to that when you're really seeking meaning. And then first of all, there is meaning and clothes.
Fiona McCann 27:30
Major signifiers of meaning to be honest, exactly
Eden Dawn 27:32
It is the way we choose to express ourselves to the world. That's why I don't like any parameters on how we tell kids they should dress. And I grew up with uniforms. I grew up with the dress code, and it felt very stifling. Yeah. And
Vivian McInerny 27:46
Fashion can be so fun, so expressive. And the thing, I think that a lot of people think fashion, writers have this one idea of what is good fashion. And I think it's much more that we love the creative expression, whatever it is, so I can absolutely love somebody who dresses in a way that I would never feel comfortable dressing. But
Eden Dawn 28:13
yeah, it's so I agree with you so much. I mean, I do have a fashion degree. So there were there were technical things where I could look at something and be like, That's patterned quite badly. That just doesn't fit well. But for the most part, it was is their passion behind this is their story. Yeah, they're good color here. There's so many things to it,
Vivian McInerny 28:34
that that was one of the things that got me to realize what while I was covering fashion, I think there was a part of me that still sort of thought it was beneath me. You know, I was a writer. This is frivolous. Yes. I wanted to write meaningful stories. And I, you know, I did do a few of those in addition to fashion, but every break I ever got was writing in fashion. But there was this one time when I talked to people about a favorite piece of clothing or something that they just held on to
Eden Dawn 29:06
Yes, that was a recurring piece you would do. It was so much fun.
Vivian McInerny 29:09
And one of them. There was this woman who said, Oh, I have this green suede jacket. And it you know, it wasn't really that fashionable then but she would wear it. And it was her grandmother and grandfather during the Depression. They would go window shopping because no one had money. And they'd walked by this green suede jacket and admired it. And then Christmas comes or an anniversary or something. And the husband presents his wife with this green suede jacket.
Fiona McCann 29:44
And she had cut off her arms! This is an O. Henry story.
Vivian McInerny 29:50
Almost like that. It turned out he had sold his blood. Oh, to buy her the jacket. I mean, that's meaningful. It's so meaningful. And that just really stuck with me, and just how much we imbue clothing and articles of fashion with meaning.
Fiona McCann 30:09
I love that. That sounds amazing.
Eden Dawn 30:11
I know because it is such a thing. I think of jewelry I wear all the time. I feel like I have so many relatives with me. And it's a nice way to keep things on your body. Like I said, it's an expression that we have. It's an outward expression from an inward feeling. And I love that about fashion. So
Fiona McCann 30:29
you got into journalism and your sort of first main job was The Oregonian right?
Vivian McInerny 30:34
Kind of I did not go to J School, which was pretty much a requisite at that time, everybody was going to J school. But I had this unusual experience of having spent about three and a half years overseas, half that time in Asia. And so that kind of helped me be more with my confidence than anything. When we came to Portland, I started taking writing classes, and at PCC and the community college. While I was still taking classes, they told the students of this opportunity of a alternative paper, that's what they were called them before zines, even alternative newspaper was looking for someone to write stories. And I was like to didn't have the confidence yet. But my husband, who has tons of confidence, he went and he wrote a story. And then he said you can do this. So the editor was looking for someone to write a fashion story. And they this was the early 80s. And it was really that sexist then that it was like a fashion story. We better ask a cute girl. Yeah. So they asked me to do this story. And I told them, I know nothing about fashion, I really, really know nothing. And they kept saying, well, well, you know, what, where do you shop? And I said, I only go to like Goodwill. And and they said that's it. Do that story. So that was my
Fiona McCann 32:07
way. You know, your husband was probably like going in saying I know everything about whatever subject you need. And you're like, I know nothing about fashion to people who know less than you about fashion. No doubt. Yeah, I mean, you don't you just don't have that you constantly underselling yourself.
Vivian McInerny 32:20
i Oh, it's it's still it's just yeah, I wish I had
Eden Dawn 32:26
A rule for women. I think particularly in journalism, where there still is so much sexism. And I feel like as fashion editor as well, and you covered so much arts and culture, anything that's under the lifestyle umbrella. I feel like we had to deal with a lot of snobbishness. Yeah, because we are not doing real journalism. We're lifestyle journalism. And it's like, it's all the same. Yes. Reporting. It's finding sources, hopefully factual.
Vivian McInerny 32:51
Yeah. No. Yeah. Actual.
Fiona McCann 32:54
So is the aspiration to do.
Vivian McInerny 32:57
And with fashion, there's the added thing of you're dealing with the photos. Because as a journalist, typical journalists, they fill out a form, and the photographer shows up and takes the picture. So when I sort of pointed out to an editors, like no, I kind of arranged these photos. And they were like, well, we all do that. We all fill out forms. It was like, no, no, like they were saying, oh, shoot, yeah, we were setting up photo shoots. So there I was doing these weekly stories, and also, hiring models, makeup artists, when we could afford it. I was picking up the clothes, deciding what the whole look would look like where it should be shot. I was doing all of it.
Eden Dawn 33:39
Stylist and producer. Yeah, that's why we're very good at events. Now
Vivian McInerny 33:45
I hate doing it, now
Fiona McCann 33:46
you were in journalism, or in sort of the newspaper business? From the 80s through to 2010. Is that what we said? Yeah, so you must have witnessed, I mean, the changes within the industry at that time, kind of phenomenon,
Vivian McInerny 34:00
embarrassing to admit, when I first walked in? To the Oregonian. We used typewriters. Yes, they were electric typewriters, fancy modern typewriters. And then I think within six months, we all had computers. But that first time, it was like only the copy desk would have computers. So you would write your story, then you would have to go and rewrite it in a borrowed computer. So six months later, I had a computer. And then when I came back after my long leave of absence, the Internet was brand new. It was so new that we had to have a reporter who was a science tech reporter. Kind of explain what it was.
Eden Dawn 34:45
What was the biggest change then, if you remember from that first fashion show reporting that first one in the 80s to the last one you said you went was 2015.
Vivian McInerny 34:55
I think the biggest difference I would say is just the awareness of it of The public awareness of who Fashion Week was. And in the beginning, no one cared. No one understood what it was or why it mattered. And in the end, it was just a celebrity. Not seen, you know, and there were people who were there only to see celebrities. And so it became almost too aware of itself. So it was less about the fashion and more about the idea of fashion. So, and I, I did have this one moment, Paris Hilton, who is at every show from the beginning, and she would always sit front row, and then she would be on her phone, like, I'm front row, but I'm too busy to speak with you. And one time, it was right before she went to jail. And she was coming out from backstage being led by the hand by a handler, and he was leaving her by the hand, and she was taking this little baby steps behind him and looking down very shyly, like a five year old child. And she was holding her little dog. And it was like, Oh, I, the whole energy was, I don't want to be here. Oh, and then she goes and sits front row where the lights are brightest. And I just thought this has gotten nuts.
Fiona McCann 36:24
So then, apart from Fashion Week in itself, what were the biggest, you know, you've obviously witnessed a lot of changes within the journalism industry as well. And, you know, what were the are there sort of marked moments, obviously, when we went from typewriter, which is sort of I mean, you think about it now like you couldn't cut and paste on a typewriter? How would unlike research, I'm How do you research stories without the
Vivian McInerny 36:46
that was the hardest thing that when you did want to an expert on something, you would have to try to, you know, there was a giant book reference book, and you would go to this reference book and think, Okay, I'm gonna write a story about firm. And then you'd look through and find like the American first association, and make a phone call.
Eden Dawn 37:09
I feel bad about the level I have complained about trying to find sources now in my life, since I always had the internet to do
Vivian McInerny 37:16
well. And when I go, Oh, it's just gonna say when the internet came in, and when social media became a big deal, that was another thing that the newsroom changed around where they had brought somebody in to teach us how to use social media to make contacts. We were really early, early Facebook, early Twitter, and how to use it for journalism. And in the beginning, it worked really well. Because you could reach out to somebody and get a response now, it wouldn't work at all. Ya know, the person you're trying to reach for now have 5 million followers and
Eden Dawn 37:53
flash in the pan. Yeah.
Fiona McCann 37:55
Yeah. And also Elon Musk owns it. Now. This whole podcast is about what happens when certain people take over certain things. How did we get here?
Vivian McInerny 38:05
Oh, I have a Donald Trump story. Okay, till that day shit. Donald Trump I saw on the side of the runway many times. And I talked to him a few times. But I will say that I spent the whole time talking to him, staring at his hair, trying to figure out how the comb over worked, because it was whatever journalist wanted to explain it. And all I could come up with it was like the Celtic knot of comb overs. It was very complicated and could not be deciphered.
Eden Dawn 38:38
I think we should probably wrap up here.
Vivian McInerny 38:42
Fiona, I don't know you well, but I do think we probably I know. I swear you look like some of my cousins. Yes.
Eden Dawn 38:49
I think that's right, we just found out these two Irish gals are likely related. And that will be so great. We can make a whole mini series podcasts about YouTube.
Fiona McCann 38:59
Thank you so so so much for coming and and for joining us today. For all our listeners. Vivian is on Twitter at @VivianMac. And so is her Instagram. Is that right at @VivianMac both of them. Yes. Great. Yes. And that's it from We Can’t Print This for today. You can see more info about this episode, including transcripts and links to things we talked about. wecantprintthis.com And check out our Instagram stories at we can print this for all the visuals too. And of course we are on Twitter still hanging in there.
Eden Dawn 39:33
and Instagram where hopefully we can put up some pictures maybe from some of your old stories. Oh have anything I think it might be really fun for us to share some stuff. And a reminder for everyone that we are not backed by anyone. We are just independent journalist talking about writing and letting you know about it because we love it and we think you will too. So you can support our work in the podcast one by just sharing it send this to a friend you think might like it, that's a huge help. Or you could become a monthly supporter on patreon. Thank you to our producer Miranda Shaffer and to Dave Depper for our intro music. This podcast was recorded at the writer's block in downtown Portland. And a big old thanks to our third office mate Rachel Richie for how she wears her baseball cap backwards where she looks like a little youngster and a movie about baseball. I love when she does that
Fiona McCann 40:22
That's true. We could have a whole episode on Rachel's fashion choice
Eden Dawn 40:25
just like a cute little fella. She wears her little baseball cap backwards like she's when she's ready to go to T ball.
Fiona McCann 40:31
Also, if you are a writer with a great behind the story story, please let us know you can write to us and we can print email@example.com Or you can write on your typewriter and put it in an envelope, get a stamp, get a stamp and then open it and retype it and send it to the email.
Eden Dawn 40:48