The Washington Post is a different news organization than the one she left in 2011 for The Daily Beast, Robin Givhan said in a phone call with Poynter. The Post announced Tuesday that Givhan was rejoining it as its fashion critic. “It’s not as if there was something pushing me out the door,” she said of her former and now future employer. “It was more that something else was enticing and luring me.”
Givhan’s Daily Beast gig didn’t last very long — she was laid off at the end of 2012 as the Newsweek/Daily Beast marriage foundered — but she said the opportunity to work for a digital-first outlet gave her “a really good understanding of how to engage with readers in a more intimate way.” She also appreciated the ability to work quickly: “That almost instant but really satisfying gratification of seeing something get out there fast and not only reflect the conversation that’s going on, but also help direct and further the conversation, I think that’s one of the great things about being able to do stuff on the Web.”
At the Post, Givhan will be platform-agnostic. “I’ll be in print and on the Web,” she said. “I hope I’ll be in every possible Washington Post outlet, from the magazine to the daily paper to the website.” She says she’d “also like to think that the stories that appear in the paper will not necessarily be limited to the Style section.” She’d be happy to see her stories flow into the business and opinion sections as well.
The Pulitzer-winning critic, who joined the paper in 1995 and once described then-Vice President Dick Cheney as wearing “the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower” to a Holocaust memorial, has spent the last year in a “cone of book-writing solitude,” preparing a volume on a gala at Versailles that was an important moment for American fashion. She’s written for New York Magazine’s The Cut and freelanced for the Post recently. In her note announcing Givhan’s hire, Post Executive Features Editor Liz Seymour said her quick-turnaround piece on L’Wren Scott “had more detail and authority than any other account I read.”
Givhan said her philosophy of fashion is that it “doesn’t happen in a vacuum and you can’t cover it as if it does happen in a vacuum. I’m always interested in trying to connect the dots to larger social and cultural issues.” She’s always appreciated that the Post doesn’t have a fashion section — Style comprises arts, living and culture, even media coverage. “One of the things I have always loved about the Post is that the boundaries are pretty porous,” she said. “Fashion bumps up against and communicates with every other part of the paper and every other story.” She’s “really hopeful that there are opportunities to delve into areas that are not really fashion and find the culture story,” she said.
She’ll work from D.C. — “I’ll be in New York enough, obviously, to cover the industry, but I think that sometimes it’s helpful to have a little arms-length distance in fashion” — and plans to start in June after finishing the last revision of her book and taking a break.
Over the past year, Givhan said, “a lot of my interaction with the Post has been simply as a reader,” and says she’s noticed that in the past year, with new editor Marty Baron and new owner Jeff Bezos, “there’s been all these really wonderful, rich narratives that have appeared in the paper.” Overall, she said she’d noticed “a greater sense of lushness in the journalism.” In the newspaper business now “there is a greater sense of bounty,” she said. “I think for a while it was a little bit of a high-protein diet.”
Related: Robin Givhan on Her New Book, Race, and Reviewing the Fashion Season (The Cut) | Robin Givhan’s scathing review of the original Wizards logo (The Washington Post)