Anna Dello Russo lives in a glass house — the virtual kind — her subtlest gesture or sartorial quirk scrutinized by her legions of fans. Pecking at their keyboards, those online viewers wax effusive. “She is like Coco Chanel to me,” one admirer exclaimed on The Sartorialist, the popular blog. “Isn’t she fabulous … so jolie laide,” gushed another on The Fashion Spot; a third posting on Ms. Dello Russo’s blog, to her: “I love when you wear pink.”
“They want to choose my outfit, to dress me like a doll,” said Ms. Dello Russo, the elastic-limbed editor at large for Vogue Japan. “I’m thinking I’m a Barbie of the Internet.”
Not that she is complaining. Ms. Dello Russo and her raffish style-world cohort, who populate the mastheads of the fashion magazines, represent a new breed of Web-based reality star. Cyber idols like Carine Roitfeld and Emmanuelle Alt of French Vogue, Kate Lanphear of American Elle and Giovanna Battaglia, lately of Italian Vogue, are hardly household names. But as the heroines of influential fashion blogs like Jak & Jil, Who What Wear and Citizen Couture, they are casting a spell, their comings and goings relentlessly tracked by a new generation of aspiring style savants.
“Editors and models have become the new fashion icons,” said Tommy Ton, the Toronto-based publisher of Jak & Jil, a photo blog that charts stylists’ and editors’ progress to and from the fashion tents. Their look and quirky glamour have, in fact, inspired a flurry of advertising campaigns, product introductions and fashion lines. “Even celebrities follow their lead,” Mr. Ton maintained.
They do, in fact, seem to be wielding an influence that is, ironically, poised to outstrip that of the magazines they serve. “You’ve got people interested in fashion in Middle America going to these Web sites and studying these people,” said Gregory Littley, a social media and branding consultant in New York. They are “using the blogs as a resource with which to educate themselves.
“To parts of America that aren’t exposed to Paris, New York or Milan,” Mr. Littley added, “those sites are a bible, a window on the culture that they take as gospel.”