After every red carpet event, awards ceremony, or fashion show, the first place I find myself looking is @diet_prada. I know I am not alone in this, as this account has amassed a truly loyal following of Dieters, who, much like myself, avidly follow for the next scandal or outfit critique. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Diet Prada, it really can be summed up by having three main ‘genres’ of post:
- Harsh (but equally amusing) outfit commentary,
- Calling out copcycat designers, and
- Revealing the latest personal scandals of those-in-fashion.
At its core, however, Diet Prada embodies what is being termed ‘Watchdog Culture,’ even having given rise to similar accounts for different industries like @esteelaundry. Despite sounding like quite banal content, accounts like these have garnered an unprecedented level of popularity. If I were to guess, I would say that demand has risen so hugely for two key reasons: our inherent distrust of mainstream media, and our expectation of total transparency from the industries from which we consume. Fashion is under a greater level of scrutiny than ever before — but what is this doing for the industry and the designers who have to work in it?
What Diet Prada truly does best is holding designers to account, both creatively and personally. Most recently, calling out the undeniable similarities between the infamous Dior tote bag and Calvin Klein’s SS20 collection. Space is also given to smaller designers who have been taken advantage of by larger brands, as seen in October 2019 when artist Sharona Franklin was asked to contribute to Gucci’s Resort 20 campaign. She was later dropped in favour of another photographer and when teaser images were released, the similarities between Franklin’s niche work and these images were undeniable. Without pages such as Diet Prada, smaller brands would remain collateral damage in the pursuit of a larger brand’s next collection or editorial. Arguments have been made however, that with this new level of creative surveillance, designers are less willing to take risks, out of fear of being written up on one of these watchdog accounts. Critiques of this nature have not previously been broadcast on such a public platform and some may consider this an environment that is not conducive for total creativity. Personally I would argue that the expectation of original work from a designer is not unreasonable one. Asking for originality should not be a deterrent for a designer from providing this for us.
Diet Prada also demands personal accountability from those in fashion. As quoted by Maureen Brewster, an expert in media portrayal of fashion: “Brands are no longer these anonymous, faceless corporations. Consumers are expecting more transparency and authenticity from all brands and products they consume.” What truly propelled Diet Prada into its dizzying heights of success was their coverage of the Dolce and Gabbana scandal in November. The leaking of Stefano Gabbana’s racist Instagram DMs resulted in the D&G show in Shanghai being cancelled on the day it was meant to have taken place. These standards of accountability are important to uphold and Diet Prada has laid a strong foundation for this. But just as we ask for transparency from those in the industry, should we not ask it of our sources of information too? A major part of Diet Prada’s appeal is their portrayal as an unfiltered, unaffiliated group. However, much of this charm falls away when we take a closer look at those who run Diet Prada and their links with well-known brands. Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler met whilst working for milliner Eugenia Kim and have only recently been revealed to the public as the names behind this account. Despite being a sensible marketing move, to propel Diet Prada from an Instagram account to a legitimate business venture, the pair have come under fire for their affiliations. After having taken over the Gucci Instagram account in 2017, questions started to be raised about their ability to remain totally non-partisan. Answers finally came when their namesake brand — Prada — released a monkey figurine that was described ‘at best tone-deaf and, at worst, racist and exploitative’ and Diet Prada’s usual fiery criticism was absent. They opted instead for a caption lauding the brand’s history of casting inclusivity.
Diet Prada’s reputation has been built on a foundation of utter transparency and trust — with this being eroded, they risk the loyal following that they have spent years building. Or perhaps this is just the next step in its transformation to a legitimate business venture. All that is for sure, in this new era of accountability, Diet Prada is no less immune than anyone else in fashion.