The countdown is on to tonight’s unveiling of Google’s new Boutiques.com fashion portal. After revealing the name and details of the site’s looks-matching technology, frockwriter thought we would hone in on one last, local, element: New York-based Kiwi Gala Darling. Frequently cited as one of the world’s most influential fashion/personal style bloggers - who calls her blog "The playgirl's guide to radical self love” and claims it boasts close to a million individual page views per month - Darling is one of a dozen fashion bloggers invited by Google to curate their own virtual fashion boutiques. Update 18/11: Now launched. Click (here) to check out her boutique and see who else is involved. Not bad for a magenta haired, tutu-rocking, tatt-emblazoned self-help dilettante, who launched into the blogosphere in December 2006 with a post entitled “Fashion help for recovering Goths”. Those in her native Wellington might know her better as Amy Paape. Reportedly a graduate of that city’s Chilton St James and Samuel Marsden Collegiate Schools, she moved to Melbourne in 2006, legally changed her name that year, then decamped to New York in 2008. Retail, as it happens, runs in the Paape family. Darling’s mother, Janet Paape, operates a Lower Hutt fashion boutique called She Designer Excitement, while her Porsche-racing uncle, Digby Paape, sells highend audio equipment at Bose Wellington.
Darling is far and away the most successful fashion blogger to emerge from Australasia.
Not surprisingly perhaps, she has attracted plenty of haters along the way. Their biggest beef? Just how she earns her income.
A backlash began in 2008, after a series of blog profiles on her attracted a large volume of negative commentary. The more charitable observations slammed her as “shallow, selfish and a user”, “a FRAUD” who “lives off her parents money”, “a spoiled rich hypocrite” and “a trust fund ditz”.
Darling has responded by saying she is entirely self-funded.
No doubt it is difficult for some to grasp just how much money successful fashion bloggers and other online personalities are currently able to command.
The higher the traffic, of course, the higher the ad revenue. However advertising is just one facet of their revenue streams.
Darling started selling podcasts in March 2009. The series is called Love & Sequins and costs US$12 per podcast, including a 10,000-word transcript. Darling told the Evolving Influence fashion blogging conference at New York Fashion Week in September this year that at the time she launched the series, podcasting began generating more income than any other blogging-related activity she had previously undertaken.
Darling also does commercial collaborations. On her blog, she discloses that in 2010 alone, she has worked with Estee Lauder, Juicy Couture, Coach, JC Penney, Ralph Lauren and Jeff Silverman - last month, unveiling a shoe she designed for the latter manufacturer. Here she is in the Coach Christmas campaign:
Then there are public speaking and appearance fees. Frockwriter has heard of day rates starting at US$2,500 and going as high as US$15-20,000 being offered to some of fashion's new media-specialist high profilers in various markets around the world.
As one of Boutiques.com's invited blogger curators, Gala Darling may be earning, we understand, a one off (low) five figure fee.
Suck it up, haters. Then shop her look.