Robin Givhan’s honest and blunt reflections on the industry brought fashion journalism to a whole new level when she became the first fashion writer to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2006.
Born in Detroit, Givhan graduated from Princeton University in 1986, followed by a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan. She then joined the Detroit Free Press, where she worked as a reporter for 7 years, before moving to the San Francisco Chronicle and eventually had a brief sojourn as an editor at Vogue. Since 1995, Givhan has been employed on and off at The Washington Post, serving as its fashion editor and fashion critic. In addition to her fashion beat, Givhan covered Michelle Obama during the first year of the administration. In September 2020 she was promoted to senior critic-at-large of the publication.
Givhan drew attention to herself when she criticised the attire worn by former US vice president Dick Cheney at a ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Ridiculing Cheney for dressing down in a ski cap and parka for a solemn event, Givhan stressed the significance of how political leaders choose to present themselves to the world and showed how sartorial commentary could be serious.
In an interview about writers who cover the fashion industry, Givhan told CBS News, "There are a lot of people who sort of say that something is good or important or progressive or edgy when, in fact, it's just crappy. And no one will just say it's crappy.” She added, "I'll also say when I think something is absolutely magnificent."
In 2013, Robin Givhan was inducted into the University of Michigan's Detroiter Hall of Fame. Givhan’s work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, New York Magazine and the New Yorker, among others. She is the author of “The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History.” She has also contributed to a number of books, including "Michelle: Her First Year as First Lady" and captions for photographer Lucian Perkins' book "Runway Madness."