Buried in the 10th paragraph of writer Eric Wilson's "Thursday Styles" piece on the opening of Armani's new 5th Ave. flagship store, after the square feet and the years of construction and the annual company revenues, is the revelation that the designer's much-hyped dispatches from New York fashion week are not, in fact, entirely the perma-tanned Italian's own work. Anyone who imagined Armani coming home in the pre-dawn hours to his Upper West Side pied-à-terre from some fashion after-party only to dutifully type his impressions into a little gray text editor should take note: his blogging is all "as told to J. J. Martin, a freelance journalist."
But it might not be a clear-cut case of Lydia Hearstism. Armani is somewhat less than proficient in spoken English, and conducts his English-language interviews via interpreter. It would be strange indeed if he were suddenly able to blog daily in flawless English prose. (After a rocky start where he criticized Americans' pasta, window coverings, and what we wear to night clubs, Armani has gone on to recount his first trip to the Bronx, where he opened a new arts center with Caroline Kennedy before riding the subway back downtown, and dished about his star-studded store opening on Tuesday night.)
J. J. Martin has contributed to The Moment before, always from Milan. If Martin speaks Italian, it wouldn't be an unusual choice for the Times to hook him up with Armani. But Wilson's phrasing "as told to" suggests that Martin's role exceeds that of a translator. All of Armani's columns have appeared under his sole byline.
It's not entirely clear what Martin's involvement is or who exactly writes these posts — does Armani dictate them in Italian and give Martin license to edit freely? Does Martin interview Armani and collect his thoughts into posts wholesale? Is he a garden variety ghost writer? If so, why aren't Martin's contributions acknowledged with any kind of byline credit? More than anything, we wonder why it took the Times days to explain how a non-English-speaking designer could guest-write for one of the publication's most-beloved blogs.
Related: Lydia Hearst Doesn't Write Her Own Columns [Gawker]