fashionista coinage

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat May 4 17:30:46 UTC 2013

Great discovery by Barry!  I'll see on Monday whether I can request a copy of the 1992 book on interlibrary loan to verify the citation.

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Saturday, May 04, 2013 12:29 PM
Subject: fashionista coinage

LH mentioned the word fashionista yesterday.

On April 17 The Atlantic website published an article about the
coinage of the word fashionista.

Title: I Apologize for Inventing the Word 'Fashionista' 20 Years Ago
Author: Stephen Fried

[Begin excerpt]
Twenty years ago, I apparently changed language forever. I published a
book that unleashed upon an unsuspecting public a single word of
terrifying power and controversy. That word is "fashionista."
. . .
Fashionista first appeared on page 100 of my 1993 book Thing of
Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia. I created it because as I was
writing about the fashion industry - and young model Gia Carangi's
immersion in it - there was no simple way to refer to all the people
at a sitting for a magazine photo or print ad.
[End excerpt]

Barry Popik saw this article, and he also found an intriguing entry in
the WorldCat database that suggested the neologism fashionista might
have been used in the title of a book in 1992:

Vague : Violet Pea, a fashionista: a girl with her own take on fashion
Author: R William Conway
Publisher: London : Most Beautiful House in the World, 1992.
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English

Barry sent news of his excellent find to several people on April 21.
OED's Editor-At –Large, Jesse, has been notified. An examination of
the book in paper form may help to confirm or contradict the data in
WorldCat. The volume is held by a handful of libraries including one
at the University of Oxford according to WorldCat

Here is Barry's website entry on fashionista:

Below is an edited version of the reply I sent to Barry on April 22:

The data given for the publisher of the book " Vague : Violet Pea, a
fashionista" is odd: "England : Most Beautiful House in the World".
Perhaps the book was self-published. Very few catalogs have the work
listed. Trove: The National Library of Australia has a listing. Here
is the link:

There is a website that appears to be controlled by Richard
Conway-Jones and this seems to be the person who wrote the book
containing the word. The website lists a telephone number and an email
address to contact. (You can double-check to see if you think this is
the right person.) I do not know the currency of the contact data.
Perhaps Conway-Jones can be emailed and asked about his use of the
word "fashionista":

The website says: "His novels poetry and memoirs are now all available
from". When I followed the link to lulu and search for
Richard Conway-Jones I found a book which combines four of his novels.
One of the novels is titled "vague" and that is the name of the target
book with "fashionista" in the title. I do not know if it is in the
text. Maybe it was added to the title later.

the novels of richard conway-jones By richard conway-jones
eBook (PDF): $0.99
the first four novels by the author and muscian and painter richard conway-jones
the beautiful people
the fakes progress
aimes tu baroque?


On Fri, May 3, 2013 at 7:37 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      =?windows-1252?Q?Re=3A_=5Fcamerista=5F_OED=3A_=22No_dictionary_e?
>               = =?windows-1252?Q?ntries_found_for_=91camerista=92=2E=22?=
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On May 3, 2013, at 6:28 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> On Aug. 30, 1862, the Times of London commented, “America swarms with the
>> members of the mighty tribe of
>> cameristas,
>> and the civil war has developed their business in the same way that it has
>> given an impetus to the manufacturers of metallic air-tight coffins and
>> embalmers of the dead.”
>> Of course, an examination of the actual newspaper may reveal a different
>> reading, but, WTF?
>> Youneverknow.
>> "Apropos of nothing," to reprise a once-common phrase, I'd been under the
>> impression that _barista_ was the the first and only -ista word in English
>> that had ever appeared in the popular press.
> The OED's cites for "fashionista" include a couple from the mid-90s from such periodicals as "Time Out N.Y." and "Entertainment Weekly", and my impression is that it's been around fairly steadily since.  No doubt "Sandinista" played a role, as I'm sure has been hypothesized here.   But that civil war took place somewhat later than the one raging in 1862.
> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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