Michael Quintanilla gave students a front row seat to what’s in trend for the fashion journalism industry during Mass Comm Week Wednesday.
Quintanilla is a fashion and pop culture writer and stylist for the San Antonio Express-News and that newspaper’s TRENDS magazine.
Quintanilla’s first job as a journalist was covering the police beat for the San Antonio Express-News.
“I went from crimes of passion to crimes of fashion,” Quintanilla said.
While covering the police beat Quintanilla did not have adequate transportation to get him to assignments. Quintanilla relied on his mother to drive him around on his beat.
“I’d pick up the phone and say ‘Mom you have to hurry up we have to get to a homicide,’” Quintanilla said.
The journalist said he would tell his Mother to wait in the car. However, when he returned to the car she would be missing. Quintanilla’s mother would be speaking with police officers, getting information her son might have missed.
“She did make me pay for gas,” Quintanilla said. “How embarrassing. What 20-year-old has their mother driving them to a double homicide? I learned a lot about my mother in those car rides.”
Before joining his hometown paper four years ago, Quintanilla was a fashion and pop culture writer for the Los Angeles Times where he biannually covered fashion weeks and prêt-a-porter shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris, a beat he fell into after his editor decided to rearrange the staff.
Quintanilla said he had little knowledge of fashion before taking the beat.
“It’s a good thing to move forward but let’s not forget what got us here in the first place—curiosity,” Quintanilla said.
Quintanilla said it is important to humanize fashion.
“As consumers we suffer from designer-ism,” Quintanilla said. “There is a human side to this. We have to care more about just the printed word these days.”
Quintanilla was covering New York City Fashion Week for the L.A. Times when the 9/11 attacks occurred. He spoke about breaking the story and his own personal experiences at Ground Zero and the World Trade Center site, just a few days after the events occurred.
“You’re always a journalist first,” Quintanilla said. “Being on the fashion beat led me to the biggest story of my career and of our time.”
While at the L. A. Times, Quintanilla also wrote features and covered the party beat that included celebrity interviews, red carpet events, movie premieres and after parties.
Quintanilla said the Hollywood red carpet is a great escape to glamour.
“Hollywood is a fantasy,” Quintanilla said. “We as journalists have to offer up a fantasy with the reality. It’s a conundrum in this tough time.”
Quintanilla said technology and fashion go hand in hand. He said at fashion shows bloggers are now sharing coveted front row seats with major writers in the mainstream media.
The journalist said these days it’s all about the online hits your website receives. He said journalists need to make use of slideshows, blogs, Twitter and Facebook.
Quintanilla reports from the front row of fashion shows with two cameras, a notepad and video camera in tow.
“You need four hands to do it all,” Quintanilla said. “We’re shooting our own pictures and videos due to downsizing.”
Quintanilla said a lot of “old timers” refuse to change.
“You will get moved around or fired,” Quintanilla said.
The “fashion guru’ said the most important thing is to have fun.