Eva Friede is wearing a new hat these days. Significantly more exciting than knitted berets or woven fedoras, The Gazette’s fashion editor of nearly ten years was recently asked to cover design in addition to fashion. “I’ll be covering all kinds of design &- everything from interior design, to architecture, to objects, so that’s a whole new field for me to learn about,” said Friede whose official title is now style editor. At The Gazette since 1988, where she started out as a copy editor, the McGill psychology graduate was the editor of the Review section before joining the fashion department full time. The self-described “professional shopper, stylist and trend-watcher” sat down with the Concordian to give us a little peek into her life as a style editor.
Q. What is your favourite part about being a style editor?
A: It’s what we call “research.” So shopping, checking out what’s in the stores. I do like writing once I am writing about something that’s interesting and compelling to me. I also like the visual part such as planning pages.
Q. What is your least favourite part about being a style editor?
A: Well these are difficult times to be a journalist, so that’s not fun. If I want to nitpick, news is cyclical and every year you have to do the coat story or the boot story, and as journalists we want everything to be new, but it isn’t always. That can be annoying. There’s no shortage of story ideas, but when you work within the confines of seasons and the newspaper has to cover certain things, it can get a bit boring. You have to search for new angles, new trends &- something new because we always want it to be different. That’s actually one of the best things about journalism, because in general, it is different. It is defined by “new.”
Q. You have interviewed a lot of designers, models and celebrities during your career, do any interviews stand out for a particular reason?
A: I remember I interviewed Isabella Rossellini and I was very, very, very nervous. It was really hard to get the essence of Isabella Rossellini. She’s so famous and it’s very hard to get something other than what everybody else gets. That was a very long time ago, and next week I hope to interview her daughter, Ellettra Wiedemann. She’s going to be in town and she’s a model for LancÃ´me.
Q. Based on your experience, are people in the fashion industry as difficult or as dramatic as they are frequently stereotyped?
A: It’s a business and everybody wants exposure. It’s not like you’re trying to talk to people about things they don’t want to talk about. The designers can be colourful, but in general they want to get their message across and they’re nice. I interview mainly designers from Montreal who are basically struggling, and there isn’t a relationship that’s adversary. People are quite cooperative and want to tell you what they’re doing.
Q. Why do you think there tend to be negative attitudes towards arts and fashion journalism?
A: I guess in a newspaper, sports and politics play a paramount role because in general, it’s men who pull the strings. Sports and politics are generally what senior editors want to see the most of. I don’t know where their advertising comes from, but I guess arts would not figure high, although in a paper like the New York Times, fashion certainly does.
Q. How do you stay up-to-date on what is happening in the ever-changing world of fashion?
A: Oh it has gotten very, very difficult lately. But I look at pictures, I read newspapers, I read the wires, I read some blogs but not enough. I also look at what people are wearing on the streets here, and what’s in the stores here. I’d love to say I travel, but I don’t do that very much anymore, although it’s certainly an excellent way to stay up- to-date on fashion.
Q. There are so many fashion blogs out there it seems everyone is calling himself or herself a style expert or a critic. Do you generally view blogs as healthy competition, or as a threat to more traditional forms of fashion journalism?
A: Well, blogs are definitely draining newspaper readership. But there was a study that someone sent our way recently that showed the vast majority of all “new” news still comes from traditional newspapers and news media. I don’t know if it’s the same way for fashion, but it depends on what people are looking for. A lot of the blogs push products and if that’s what people want, that’s what they can get. I try not to push products, I try to interpret trends or identify trends.
Q. Do you enjoy working on your blog, The Constant Shopper?
A: I love it. I don’t have a lot of time for it, but I love it. I would do more, but there’s just not enough time in the day.
Q. What do you see as the future of fashion journalism?
A: It really seems that if anything is going to be hived off onto the web, it’s fashion. It’s such a fast business and newspapers don’t seem to want to, or have the resources to cover it the way let’s say the Times does, or magazines do. I guess we will come out of this recession at some point, but as far as I know, the magazines are still cutting back. They are expanding their web presence though, which I guess is the future.
Q. Do you wish that The Gazette had a bigger fashion and style section?
Q. As a style editor, do you feel pressure to dress to impress on a daily basis?
A: Not on a daily basis, but if I go to an event I think about what I am going to wear. I love fashion and I love dressing, so I think I would do it anyways.
Q. What is your go to outfit of choice?
A: At the moment it’s leggings and a long tunic dress or a long sweater top. It’s very, very cozy.
Q. Any favourite spring/summer trends?
A: I haven’t really studied the trends so far, but I think I’m going to be sticking to the leggings, jeggings (legging-like denim)and tunic tops. In terms of lingerie dressing, I like a little bustier, but in moderation and covered up somewhat. It depends where and on whom, but I think it was a little overdone on the runways for summer. The other thing is the trench and utility wear. It’s not really my thing, but it’s a classic.
Q. What is your advice for aspiring journalists?
A: I guess you just have to be really smart and really fast, and mine the web for possibilities at the moment. You also have to be able to function on many platforms.