Marjorie Hillis (1889-1971) worked for VOGUE for over twenty years, beginning her career as a captions writer for the pattern book and working her way up to assistant editor of the magazine itself. She was one of a growing number of independent, professional women who lived alone by choice. In 1936 she wrote LIVE ALONE AND LIKE IT, the superlative guide for ‘bachelor ladies’ (who became known as ‘live-aloners’). It was an instant bestseller.
Three years after the book’s publication, at the age of forty-nine, Ms. Hillis bid a fond farewell to the live-aloners by marrying Mr. T.H. Roulston. Source: Hachette Books (may be awhile for you to receive LIVE ALONE AND LIKE IT from Amazon.com at the moment)
Yes. Cue Lady Dedlock from Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House” (2005 BBC adaptation with Gillian Anderson). I too am bored to death…with fashion, fashion magazines, celebrity covers and their vapid profiles, and this year’s September fashion issues. Perhaps the internet and fashion on demand has runined the impact and significance of September issues. Even the runways at fashion week are running on fumes — too many, too late before the next season arrives.
I received my Vanity Fair (VF) “Style” special in the mail mid August. Technically VF is not a fashion magazine. It’s my celebrity rag mag. When I saw the photo of Diana on the cover, I knew this season’s September issues were off to a real snore. Even Diana looks bored. Bored, bored, bored. In the words of this post by Dodai Stewart on Jezebel:
Is there a clamoring for another Princess Diana cover? Is it all all possible that VF readers are as nostalgic and death-obsessed as the editors? Should VF rebrand itself as Dead Icons Monthly?
I’ve decided not to renew my subscription to Vanity Fair.
New York magazine arrived next with a naked model on the cover. Actually, it’s filmmaker and acgress Lake Bell who is temporarilly inked by her husband, tattoo artist Scott Campbell, well known in Hollywood circles. The New York cover echoes Vanity Fair‘s hey day when Demi Moore posed pregnant and nude for the VF cover in 1991; and painted Demi in 1992 where you saw the impression of nipples through the paint. New York strategically placed type over the potentially offending body parts. I do intend to renew my subscription to New York magazine, not for the fashion but for the articles for real (not the old Playboy readers disclaimer). Without being a super star celebrity, Bell’s made her mark with the cover brains and all — read the article. New York magazine’s fashion issues are always interesting but not for everyone. And since Pulitzer Prize winning fashion journalist Robin Givhan is on their team (and at Fashion Week right now, and still writes special pieces for the Washington Post), I’ll be doing double duty with New York magazine by adding their website to my reading list.
I’m not sure if my “W” was plucked from my mailbox or if they decided to drop my subscription, but I haven’t seen it. It hasn’t occurred to me to track it down.
Flipped through the September issue of Vogue at the newsstand. People say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Where Jezebel may be bored with dead icons, I’ve become bored with living celebrity covers. Last year’s photo-shopped Lady Gaga had more umph and controversy! I’m not sure that Jennifer Lawrence takes herself seriously for this “Do you think I’m sexy?” cover look. Plus, any September issue outside a bridal magazine that hypes a wedding as a cover story has already dropped the ball IMO.
The September Vogue fashion pages doesn’t look half as interesting as Jennifer’s layout for an October 2012 issue of W magazine. For some reason I still have that W. The W fashion spread had the right amount of edge, fantasy, fetish (which W seems to like to trot out) and fabulous. I put Vogue back on the shelf. Lawrence has a new “Hunger Games” movie coming out. As the saying goes, “nothing spoils like success.” Pre-Oscar Lawrence seemed a lot more comfortable in her clothes than the super star. Do stylists rehearse walking up and down stairs, down narrow aisles, and a few dance moves with their clients in their Dior gowns. Or in the words of Andrew Leon Talley in his Vogue 2013 Oscar night Fashion report:
Jennifer Lawrence, sumptuous and quite beautiful in Dior Haute Couture, had a grandiose bell-shaped dress with an extra bit of train to push around. Though she looked supercool, breaking down the high-pitch volume of the couture-crafted skirt by opting for very little bling, it just wasn’t as exciting as her Dior Golden Globe silk organza with a tiny gold belt. (When I interviewed Lawrence at the Globes earlier this year, she told me she did not know what the word haute couture meant. As she fell going to the stage to receive her Best Actress Oscar, which she so deserved, it is clear that her skirt was too much to manuever. Many talents, no matter how great, need crash courses in how to handle the grand dress.)
Andre is still a contributing editor at Vogue but is also editor-at-large of the Russian magazine Numero Russia.
Okay. I’ve said too much about this topic.
My winner this month actually goes to Bazaar. Have they read my rants over the years about the lack of diversity in their fashion pages? This September, Bazzar delivers something. This is more of a nod than a solid win. Sarah Jessica-Parker (love her, but I’m still yawning) is the September issue’s cover model. I’m just grateful they didn’t go with Miley Cyrus featured as a celebrity model in this issue, but her name isn’t on the cover. ‘nuf said right there. Bazaar is sticking to their commitment to make sure no one ages out of fashion with recommendations for every decade of adult life without a walker. This month’s first fashion feature is “Singular Beauties: An Homage to the Diversity of Women.” The lack of diversity plus the lack of anything really interesting fashion-wise has kept me from moving many a Bazaar issue from the shelf to the check out. I’ve shelled out $16 + for Italian Vogue where there’s something fascinating about fashion even when there’s something lacking in other areas. But Bazaar decided to throw “diversity” a bone. For that I’ll give Bazaar a pat on the head.
I will download Elle on my iPad from my local library via an magazine app called Zinio. Zinio also has Vogue (not American) from other countries. Very cool. And no heavy lifting of September issues. I’m sure online publishing is weighing heavy on the impact and influcence of September issues.
With the exception of Glamour and Kerry Washington (the fashion “it girl” of color of the moement), and the magazines for a target audience like Essence (Viola Davis is on the cover), no other woman of color appears on the big 5 September issues (Vogue, W, Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire). Robin Givhan is keeping an eye on the runways during fashion week. And former model and agency owner Bethann Hardisonhas written to the fashion council’s of New York, Paris, London, and Milan with lists of designers to be put on notice. The models are losing covers and layouts to celebrities, so imagine if you’re not getting the runway gigs either.
Robin writes (New York magazine)
I think if you look back at history you realize that those sorts of changes that are rooted in morality have not happened out of the goodness of people’s hearts. They have been forced into making those changes through political efforts, through legislation, through economic pressure. So while I just said that I think Bethann’s campaign has legitimacy because she speaks as a voice from within the industry, I don’t know that sweeping, significant change will happen until pressure comes from outside the industry, from places that start taking the fashion industry seriously as a place that has an incredible amount of power and influence on the culture at large.
Lately, the cultural impact of fashion is far more interesting to me than fashion itself. And perhaps the missing women of the globe on the runways and in the magazines have pro-longed my boredom.
New York Fashion week wrapped up Thursday, the 13th. And I’m just finishing my September issues. It was a busy week on my end as well. Washington’s fall social season can require as many wardrobe changes as any catwalk debut. But September issues are here to remind us that possibilities still exist. The fall anticipation still has a sweet caress. And the aspirational life can be as purposeful as the lives we’re living in present time.
September Vogue celebrates it’s 120th year of publication. A time for looking back and forward. Editor Anna Wintour also highlights the brains behind Vogue style — its fashion editors. I always credit the documentary “September Issue” for bringing the fashion editor from behind the curtain. They weren’t even a part of the chorus line with the exception of the editor-in-chief whose musings are recorded in their monthly “letter from the editor” in the first chunk of the magazine. In the 2012 September issue, Anna Wintour brings us into the editor’s world on page 264. Let’s think about that in the context of past issues like July which was 142 pages long. Should the first congratulations go to the advertising sales staff who put in just as much muscle to produce a 910 page issue? I was advised by my medical team not to do any heavy lifting after minor surgery.
Focusing on the editor gives the fashion magazine a certain professional respectability in publishing at a time when magazine sales are continually dropping. Fashion editing is serious journalism.
I’m not entirely sure anyone on the outside appreciates the effort that goes into creating a shoot. It’s more than just choosing a model or picking the clothes; it’s a quicksilver understanding of whoever fashion is that particulat moment, and presenting a sampling of life and culture as we are experiencing it at that time.
Over the past few years the September issue has been the Vogue calling card for Fashion’s Night Out, the fundraising event created by Wintour that happens at the top of NY Fashion Week. A single magazine sponsored event has not been the best theme for a September issue IMO. In this issue FNO takes its rightful place with the advertisers with an announcement of Vogue’s upcoming book Vogue: the Editor’s Eye is gently inserted. (Grace Coddington’s memoir is due soon.). In addition to Coddington’s vision of life and culture as we are experiencing it (which includes cover girl Lady Gaga), there are editor Tonne Goodman, Phyllis Posnick, and Camille Nickerson. The fashion editor is like the chicken and the egg question. Will they rise to the level of the super model stardum for their individual styles?
While the September issue was going to press, a short lived campaign was going around the Internet asking people to vote for RuPaul to be the cover model for the September issue over Lady Gaga.
Apparently the lady gaga’ed on her Twitter account that she was channeling RuPaul and Fozzie Bear for her 2nd Vogue cover. RuPaul fans are fans of fashion. Why have a copy when you can have the real deal. But in the world of magazine publishing a man can only grace the cover of Vogue in the company of a woman. And only one woman can own the September issue. Back to the chicken and the egg question about styling. Grace Coddington was the fashion editor “in charge” of the cover shoot with Marc Jacobs as designer. Apparently two dresses were created by Marc Jacobs for the cover shoot according to Wintour’s letter: one Grace liked, one Gaga like. The shape of the dress says Grace, the wrapping paper texture says Gaga. Maybe Photoshop was the consensus. Nobody’s saying.
Grace was probably happier in her romantic world channeling Edith Wharton. This is where Vogue looks back and the rest of us can go along for the ride.
– Another Gilded Age year.
– Dolce and Gabbana debuts their first couture collection in Sicily covered in Vogue as “One Enchanted Evening.” Hoop skirts, hand painted chiffon, crinoline. Creating fantasy. Bringing their grandmothers back to the altar. Seems everyone is channeling the past these days.
– 40 and under has been ticked up to 45. Youth is extended. Will we ever grow up?
Overused words by fashion editors:
Harpers Bazaar’s September issue is usually the first pony out of the gate leading the pack, but often overshadowed by a bigger Vogue or superstar cover. Gwen Stefani graces the cover of Bazaar in hot pink, in two different cover poses. I believe I picked up the earlier one.
Bazaar’s September theme is fashion and art with emphasis on art. What Bazaar may lack in daring artistic imagination, they more than make up for in giving readers a clear and straightforward view of the product/art, inspiration and process. It’s not too deep, but for readers who are fashion conscious, the artistic framing brings an appreciation for how designers think. Two visual artists who work in the visual aesthetic, Ed Ruscha and Nick Cave, are individually paired with fashion. Cave’s sound suits bring on Bazaar’s wild side to introduce wild and wooly fashion pieces for fall. Bazaar fuses new fall fashion with new work by Cave who in his own explorations of “otherness” is happy to indulge fashion’s interpretation of wildness. Cave isn’t just a prop; he’s really The Subject.
“I’m always interested in what’s first: Does fashion inspire art or does art inspire fashion? It needs to work between these two disciplines to be interesting to me.”
Ed Ruscha tamely interprets Stella McCarthy.
Since the Metropolitan Fashion Institute gala has become fashion’s hottest ticket for the museum, more and more galleries are dedicating space to fashion to bring in foot traffic. Fashion is now staking its claim in the realm of fine art. Fashion is individual expression. Designers and magazines suggest and guide more than dictate. Trends are coming from the streets and not the catwalks. Bazaar may not believe in magical realism, but they do believe in keeping it as real as they can.
As much as I’ve harped on Bazaar for the lack of diversity in model choices they have featured covers with Rihanna, Beyonce, Janet Jackson to keep it real with a trend for all fashion magazines — celebrities sell and sell more than clothes.
In Style starts from that premise on every page of the magazine. The September cover features Jennifer Lopez. I’m not going to include In Style in my September issues because I only reference it if I have an event to attend in Los Angeles and need to know what color nail polish is trending on the red carpet.
W Magazine has started to grow on me. It’s the baby on the blog celebrating 40 years. W’s part of the Conde Nast family with Vogue, but makes no apology for being all about style aesthetic, high end concepts and always edgy. Even its oversize packging says bigger is badass. Penelope Cruz is on the cover, but apparently didn’t have time (or the inclination) for a W style fashion spread. But a September cover puts Cruz in a category above and beyond pretty faces. Again W stands out from the pack of September issues by featuring an actress, not rock stars (Vogue, Bazaar, Elle)
Fall fashion is about “fantasy” as the cover states. Fairies and goblins, buldging shapes in fabric. True fashion is fearless. And I don’t think W. ever misses an opportunity for a dominatrix themed fashion spread. Super model Linda Evangelista indulges the editors’ and maybe dedicated readers’ fetishes fancies. In a tribute to super heroes, Linda goes for it full throttle in leather cat suits, capes, masks, and thigh-high boots. Oh yes, a riding whip prop makes an appearance – tamer than a bull whip. Gee, would Penelope even think about topping that? Oh, do you want to know about Karl Lagerfeld’s latest muse — his Birman kitten Choupette. There are some magazines that deserve their own shelf. High fashion or high art? You decide.
Vanity Fair only commits to fashion with the cover model. I was happy to get the cover with actress Jessica Chastain. The second or maybe it was the first cover and official cover featured Kate Middleton. Vanity Fair‘s September issue recaps the best dress list of the rich, famous, and fabulous in new, couture, vintage or otherwise. I read the magazine for the articles.
I wish I had a chance to really jump into Elle. When you stop buying magazines for horoscopes, that’s probably the sign that you’ve aged out. But I managed to pluck one of the last Elle’s off the newsstand before the October issue showed up. All the magazines are focusing on the life, muses, and vision of designers. Elle is even smarter. It’s editors still rule and they don’t have to make a lot of noise about it. “Project Runway” will do that for them. Yes, Elle instructs, but their fashion eye is on target partially credited to the work of the magazine’s creative director Joe Zee. Elle style A-Zee and trends are sophisticated and fun romps through the season before you get into the meat of the September issue. Unlike a lot of the old guard magazine, Elle is not going through an identity crisis (at the moment) or trying to appeal to everyone. Style still rules, but lifestyle has a niche market. So maybe you don’t give a damn what your boyfriend says about the cut of your pants. At least you know what your fall pants options are. I would say Elle is a winner in my pile of September issues.
Lately I’m drawn to magazines that highlight life’s pleasures with style. No trending, guessing at trends, suggesting or instructing. For awhile, I was reading Town and Country to see how the “other half” enjoyed life’s pleasures. There’s no instructing in Town and Country. Either you have it/inherit it, or you don’t. New money need not apply. Town and Country is featuring fresh new heiress and legacy kid faces in fashion of their choosing. (How does the other half dress.) Gone are the New England twin sets, single strand pearls, and couture gowns of their grandparents. But I’m sure it’s still a kick to see your wedding picture in the magazine.
But I’m not from Connecticut, don’t own an island, yacht and have never been to the Hamptons. My cultural roots are in the South and I share more of the pleasures of a semi-new bi-monthly magazine, Garden & Gun. I’m not big on Southern fashion, but the magazine is smart, easy on the eyes, and just well done. The title threw me off at first — it’s not the lifestyle magazine of the Natonal Rifle Association. It’s geared more to the creative classes of the new south. And yes, they will use the term “Southern belle,” but you may be pleasantly surprised. In fact, because this bimonthly magazine has limited distribution north of Annapolis, MD, I’m going to post the link: gardenandgun.com/
No it’s not fair. But it’s the world we live in where a woman can say as much and sometimes more by what she wears as what she says. First Lady Michelle Obama and Republican First Lady hopeful Ann Romney made telling statements in the dresses and designers they chose for their grand appearances on the conventions’ political stage.
Ann Romney chose Oscar de la Renta in signature GOP red. Classic, tasteful and a price tag of approximately $2,000 ($1,900 by the lowest estimates). The dress made a statement about where Mrs. Romney and her husband stand in wealth — on top of it but they’re not aristocrats. It’s the kind of dress that leaves the “wow” factor to the color and accessory choices of the woman who wears it. Mrs. Romney further understated her dress with simple gold jewelry and black pumps. This is the “old money” look for the 21st century. No pearls. And no crass new money diamonds and gems. But a little solid gold bling doesn’t hurt. The dress is made of silk taffeta. It “wrinkles so easily” (Cue Madeline Kahn “Young Frankenstein”). Taffeta makes a statement about status and how close you desire to be to another person including strangers in a big convention hall. The dress was Ann Romney’s choice. It was what she felt comfortable to wear. Oscar de la Renta has designed gowns for First Ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton. For Mrs. Romney, why break with tradition?
First Lady Michelle Obama gave her speech in a dress designed by Tracy Reese. The colors are pink and gray (update: the trim is blue). Price tag: Tracy Reece dresses run between $200 and $500. The pink pumps were from J. Crew (around $245) Mrs. Obama seemed to be less concerned about party colors and more into what works for her including bearing her signature toned arms. The pink dress shimmered and moved as Mrs. Obama moved. Wrinkles look like they’d dissolve on this dress with a few good strides across the stage. Do either women have time to iron before they step out? I remember my mom avoiding at all costs ironing the morning of for fear of potentionally leaving the iron on which could start a fire, not to mention being late for work and school. These are working women’s concerns. Tracy Reese is a young designer compared to de la Renta. Young designers have become the First Lady’s signature fashion statement. Young designers struggle. To be selected by the First Lady is a bump they all dream of. Oscar de la Renta was already an established signature designer at the time he got the calls from the last two First Ladies. Old school vs. New school?
Americans are very uncomfortable talking about class in a serious fashion. Race makes the contrast a lot simpler. Does it matter that one designer is Hispanic and one is African American? What does that signal to voters? Not much. But it could tap into buyers’ decisions. In the 1% vs 99%, haves and have-nots context of this presidential election, both Mrs. Romney’s and Mrs. Obama’s fashion statements can be called “Class acts.”
And now, words in motion.
Transcript from Ann Romney’s speech at the RNC Convention (Tampa, FL)
Transcript from Michelle Obama’s speech at the DNC Convention (Charlotte, NC)