“I think I got reported,” Luke Meagher told me on the phone last week. “And I think I got reported by someone from High Fashion Twitter. Because they all don’t like me. I know that people were @’ing me in tweets when I was suspended, saying, ‘Thank god it’s dead,’ or whatever.” Meagher paused. “So there is low-key beef.”
The “it” to which Meagher is referring is @hautelemode, which, until its suspension, was one of the defining voices of the Twitter subculture he mentioned: High Fashion Twitter, also known as hf twitter. (Even if it’s not grammatically correct, “hf twitter” is the preferred stylization on Twitter.) High Fashion Twitter is just what it sounds like: right now, across the platform, users with perverse portmanteau handles like @balenciogre, @jacquemuslut, and @diorcouturepoor are arguing about Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy, dressing down luxury world amateurs, talking about ethical design practices, and protecting the sanctity of Margiela Tabis at all costs. It is catty. It is authoritative.
And it is at war.
But first, a history of this vibrant subculture. Members of hf twitter tell me that it goes back as far as 2014 or 2015. Its ranks are quite young—Gen Z’ers, many of whom are finishing up degrees at Parsons, FIT, and fashion schools in Germany, Mexico, and England. Many of the archival images its members share and the collections they celebrate were made years before those users were even born.
If hypebeast twitter is driven by the machismo jawnz-copping-swashbuckling meme-itude of Four_Pins, hf twitter brings the snobbery and condescension of, say, the Devil Wears Prada to nearly everything: one recent post from another cult account, @laqerfeld, compared the user’s new therapist to Louis Vuitton womenswear director Nicolas Ghesquiere (“I’m definitely ghosting him”). Rather than focusing on buying stuff, or interpreting the latest and biggest trends, the discourse peddles in expertise, in the rarity of archival runway or editorial photographs, and identifying small or forgotten details, insisting that those who missed them are too basic to understand real fashion. Members often parody this obsession with obscurity for obscurity’s sake: “i love hf twitter,” wrote @diorwiak earlier this month. “bitches will put any 4 pics they like for no reason and caption it ‘this energy..’”
But the subculture is also incredibly self-aware, and intent on plucking fashion down from its icy perch. @hautelemode was a paragon of the form, even if Meagher resists that association. Before his account was suspended last week, it had nearly 13,000 followers, among them many bold-faced fashion names. Meagher’s still-active @hautelemode Instagram, for example, is followed by Michele Lamy, Diet Prada, Justin Theroux, Mel Ottenberg, and several other industry movers and shakers. (It’s a cocktail party guestlist that a Paris runway show could only dream of.) There, Meagher has compared Givenchy’s rosebud logo to marijuana, made memes about controversial photographers, and gave the clearest and most succinct review of Tom Ford’s Fall/Winter 2019 show I saw anywhere. Hf twitter is seduced by the industry’s usual charms, but also highly skeptical, loving its idols without giving them the cold worship that traditional fashion media tends to offer them (“this is Raf Simons,” @laqerfeld wrote in a thread introducing the hf twitter pantheon about two years ago. “belgian. a meme. cries a lot”). They are writing the recent-history books of fashion in almost-real time, reminding us of when Young Thug stood up from the front row of a VFILES show to fix a model’s look, or the vibe of Raf Simons’s Dior, or footage of Lagerfeld golden child Hudson Kroenig walking in Chanel.
Most twitter subcultures, like sports twitter or black twitter, assume a fluency in phrases and cult figures and brands—and hf twitter assumes you know your Margiela from your Marni, and that Rudi Gernreich did Jacquemus before Simon Porte Jacquemus was ever born. The Antwerp 6 is its Holy Trinity. (This also brings us to what got Meagher kicked off the platform in the first place: Kim Kardashian, sinner and saint of hf twitter, posted a photo of herself in some archival Alaia with a joke from Clueless: “a totally important designer.” Meagher retweeted and finished the joke from the movie: “And I will totally shoot you in the head.” He concedes that this was not his best joke.)
But what makes hf twitter singular as a twitter-subculture is that fashion already thrives on another social media platform: Instagram. It might seem surprising that a medium as visually-oriented as fashion has a thriving commentariat, but the sort of style that flourishes on Instagram is perhaps too basic for hf twitter, which is more interested in dissecting our compulsion to buy than celebrating it. “I feel like Instagram is a tool to sell fashion, whereas Twitter doesn’t have as many users or a big enough market to have that sort of attention,”said London-based Chalukya Samarawickrama, who tweets as @balenciogre. It was on hf twitter, for example, that Samarawickrama first heard about the extent of the industry’s sexual abuse and harassment issues; it’s also where he began to learn about Martin Margiela and his influence on the current generation of designers.
But hf twitter is also, as Meagher has learned, a very volatile place. That is true of most of twitter, but, Meagher told me, “I don’t want @hautelemode to ever get into being the nasty part of High Fashion Twitter, and that’s why I resent being called a ‘High Fashion Twitter’ or whatever, because I don’t want to be associated with it.” (He is now tweeting as @hautelemess.) Samarawickrama told me that “if you aren’t a fan of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld or Versace, to name a few, hf twitter are the sort of people that will drag you through the mud and label you as ‘someone who doesn’t know fashion,’ and I have seen people who have expressed their opinions on these brands as well as others be ridiculed when talking about designs from these houses.”
So what do these users hope to do with the couture intel they’re amassing? Meagher has a growing audience for his video series on YouTube, and Samarawickrama is finishing his thesis collection, having interned for Roksanda and Queen-approved designer Richard Quinn. Is the next big voice in fashion among the Twitterati’s ranks? Will the next great fashion critic tweet their way to the top? Can the barbed attitude of hf twitter bring something fresh to fashion’s Instagram influencer tedium, or will it tear itself apart before it breaks into the mainstream? The group seems to know it’s bound for greater things: “can someone from hf twitter go insta famous already???” @yslfemme asked earlier this month. Several followers pointed out that this had already happened. Alton Mason, who made history in December 2018 as the second black man ever to walk in a Chanel show? Only a few months before, he was just an infamous, if anonymous (and now locked), hf twitter account. From hf twitter to hf modeling: in the words of the people, so @prouda of that @Valenteeno. @SlayMcQueen!
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