How the Fashion Rumor Mill Went Into Overdrive

This is an edition of the newsletter Show Notes, in which Samuel Hine reports from the front row of the global fashion week circuit. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

It’s the biggest weekend on the American fashion calendar. No, not New York Fashion Week, which starts today with shows by Peter Do for Helmut Lang, Collina Strada, and the newly-crowned prince of American fashion, Willy Chavarria. With mixed feelings, I’m missing most of the NYFW schedule. Instead I’ll be reporting from the center of the Swiftularity, Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.

In case you haven’t noticed, the NFL is rapidly catching up to the NBA as the premier league creating style moments. When Travis Kelce bought his first pair of Collina Strada pants, it was only the latest sign that the football tunnel was the place where new fashion stars could be minted. And brands big and small are getting in on the action. Just a few weeks ago, Bode teased its highly-anticipated Nike collaboration by dressing Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith. And this weekend, the fashion industry will be placing bets across the Chiefs and 49ers rosters, hoping to cash out with viral moments thanks to the sky-high levels of interest in this year’s contest. (A certain 49ers wide receiver will be walking into Allegiant Stadium on Sunday in a full runway look from a major European house—he will surely not be the only one.) Plus, there’s the opportunity to score the biggest fashion coup of the year by dressing Usher for his halftime performance. Stay tuned.

Around when Usher goes on in Vegas, Ludovic De Saint Sernin, the Parisian prince of low-rise trousers and barely-there tops, will be making his NYFW debut. (Luckily, his audience doesn’t seem like a football-crazy crowd.) Which is an admittedly clumsy transition to the real point of this week’s column: fashion gossip. Gossip has always played a huge part in driving the excitement around fashion, and it’s especially ripe right now because of all the top-tier free agents—like Alessandro Michele, Riccardo Tisci, Sarah Burton, and Haider Ackermann, to name a few—and the open (or rumored to be opening) creative director roles, like the one at Givenchy. (Wouldn’t De Saint Sernin make sense there? Just look at his Ann Demeulemeester collection.)

At the men’s fashion shows in Milan and Paris last month, there was so much scuttlebutt flying around over spritzes that I could barely keep track of who was supposed to be going where. Some speculation was basically logical, while other whispers struck me as straight fashion fanfic, like the idea that a hot London-based designer was “confirmed” to be landing at a certain uber-luxury heritage French house that has no incentive to change anything. When I asked Beka Gvishiani of Style Not Com, the industry’s Instagram account of record, if he had also noticed an uptick in gossip in recent years, his reply was unequivocal. “Omg YES!” he said.

There will always be abundant gossip in creative industries filled with big personalities. (Looking at you, art world.) But in fashion right now both supply and demand for it are surging. Now that fashion has gone mass-market and made inroads into every aspect of popular culture and public life (like the NFL), an increasingly large audience follows the industry as if it was its own sports league. And they are clearly hungry for leads on player transfers and owner-box intrigue, as I was reminded last week when a mutual follower on X with no obvious connection to the fashion world tweeted about how Demna is supposedly leaving Balenciaga. (He’s not, as Lauren Sherman confirmed in her Puck column Line Sheet this week.)

The vast majority of fashion rumors are, of course, not true. Which doesn’t mean they’re unimportant. Designer rumors have a way of exposing insider priorities, and they often reveal the vast gap between the editorial and retail establishment and the actual shot callers who hire and fire creative talent. (If anyone tells you they knew Louis Vuitton was going to hire Pharrell before it was announced, they are lying.) And fashion gossip is used the way gossip has always been: to spin stories, to float trial balloons, to jump-start or advance careers, and (of course) to settle scores. Which is why Gvishiani—whose blue-hued IG grid tracks the tick-tock of luxury fashion for 300,000+ followers—gets several tips a week about designer (and, interestingly) CEO moves.

Though Gvishiani shares some anonymous rumors on Style Not Com, there are dozens of small-scale Cindy Adamses who really get the tattle going. Most of them play fast and loose, making Diet Prada look like the Financial Times. I first learned of the rumor that Simon Porte Jacquemus might be going to Givenchy from one X power user in particular, an American in Paris named Louis Pisano, who tweeted confidently about the appointment some months ago. (I reported last week that he is not.) Pisano has been called “Instagram’s Messiest Fashion Influencer.” But in my opinion they do their best work on the Musk-owned platform, where their feed offers dishy takes on the fashion topic du jour. But Pisano will train their pen on anyone, from beloved stylists to (allegedly) nasty PR reps. “I use Twitter as my group chat,” they told me.

When I met Pisano in January for coffee at Cafe Kitsuné near the Tuileries Garden, it was the waning days of Paris Fashion Week, and I admitted I’d recently deleted Twitter from my phone. “That's what I need to do,” they replied. “It would save me a lot of trouble.” Pisano’s feed is a steady stream of unvarnished opinions (“Givenchy sucked ass”), spicy observations (“Elena Velez is the Donald Trump of emerging designers”), and anecdotes about drunken afters with “friends, muses, and collaborators of iconic designers,” as they once put it. Taken as a whole, the account feels like the work of a real-life Emily In Paris, if Emily was a freelance influencer and journalist who had long stopped giving a fuck.

At the café, Pisano is wearing black vinyl jeans and a sailor hat, a nod to their past life as a member of the US Navy, which brought them to Italy in 2009. By 2014, thanks to connections forged on HF (“high fashion”) Twitter, the subculture of fashion nerds who worship Martin Margiela and love to argue about design minutiae, they had left the Navy and moved full-time to Milan to work in PR, where they got a crash course in the inner workings of the industry—and how to leverage rumors for one’s own ends. By the time they landed in Paris as an influencer and occasional contributor to French glossy magazines, Pisano had become a leading source of gossip on HF Twitter. “I was in this head space of: let me just blow up on my own. I’m going to say all the shit I need to say about all these brands, all the shit I heard working in PR,” they said. “I just posted all of it.”

I asked Pisano about their sources, which tend to be, shall we say, unreliable. “I live in Paris!” they said. “We all go to the same bars, we all go to the same restaurants. We all get drunk at the same after parties together. And people talk!” “We” means the designers, stylists, and employees of the town’s many fashion houses, all of whom do indeed talk, and Pisano’s feed at times feels like a chaotic transcript of those conversations. Which has occasionally landed them in hot water. Most infamously, in 2022 Pisano posted an unverified rumor about Rihanna and A$AP Rocky’s relationship. The tweet went viral almost instantly—but it wasn’t true. “I’m a big tweet and delete-r,” they said, but this time the damage was done. Their contributor contract with Vogue France was canceled, and fashion week invites dried up.

If anything, the experience of going from insider to outsider has left Pisano even more emboldened. “The good thing that came from that is that there's no more pretense,” they said. Pisano is an influencer whose brand is built on drama, not on being in the good graces of high-powered fashion PRs “I think that scares them, that I don't have to play the game that they're playing,” they said.

Before they left, Pisano told me that they want to move beyond, if not on from, Twitter gossip. Their plan is to expose the truth behind fashion’s most salacious rumors as an investigative journalist. “Bad behavior, corruption, that kind of thing. Illuminating inequality in the industry,” they said. “I want to do those kinds of stories that take a year to do.” Not just a few seconds to tweet.

Still, I had to ask: did Pisano have any good gossip for me that I might have missed? They demurred at first, before dangling a designer transfer that you’ll have to read about on Twitter. I asked Pisano how sure they were about it. “Look,” they said. “If it happens, I was right. And if it doesn't happen, someone set me up!”

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Originally Appeared on GQ