Fluff flies as fashion writers pick a cat fight with bloggers

Editors claim the amateurs taking their front-row seats have been bought by the big couture houses

They were fashion's Young Turks: the scant few voices of criticism in a sea of superficiality. But fast forward one season, and fashion bloggers are facing a backlash for falling under the spell of the big design houses they set out to debunk.

Enthusiasm has waned for bloggers such as Tavi Gevinson, the 13-year-old wunderkind who waltzed into the front row of the biggest catwalk shows, as former fans complain bloggers have been "bought off" by the industry.

An online spat broke out last week after Tavi's giant bow-shaped headpiece obscured the view of one of British fashion's most senior writers, Grazia magazine's style director Paula Reed, at the Christian Dior haute couture show in Paris. Grazia claimed it had "started the Tavi backlash" after Reed tweeted a picture of the Dior collection – as seen through Tavi's bow.

The fashion world rushed to take sides. "Oh, the irony of a grown-up correspondent's view of the runway being blocked by someone little older than a child and no taller than Frodo," wrote The Clothes Whisperer site.

Tavi, who is from the suburbs of Chicago, hit back on her blog, The New Girl in Town: "I had no intentions of blocking the views of people behind me but it didn't block any views – I'm SHORT, so watching the show behind me would be like watching it through a regular-sized adult, but better, because adult heads do not have holes in them.... But also, I am really curious as to when news websites will write about something interesting, i.e. not what someone wore to a fashion show."

Sarah McCullough, Selfridges' creative concepts manager and an avid blog reader, said: "It's mind-blowing that bloggers like Tavi are at the couture shows and being showered with all kinds of gifts. It has soured things a little bit for me."

Senior fashion insiders believe blogs have turned into little more than mouthpieces for fashion brands, which are increasingly using bloggers to regurgitate their press releases. Dolly Jones, editor of Vogue.com, said: "PRs plant stories with certain bloggers who are influential. Those have a ripple effect. It's a really powerful selling tool."

Robert Johnson, associate editor at the men's magazine GQ, said: "Bloggers are so attractive to the big design houses because they are so wide-eyed and obsessed, but they don't have the critical faculties to know what's good and what's not. As soon as they've been invited to the shows, they can no longer criticise because then they won't be invited back."