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?

Cover story
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.

Additional Notes
– Another Gilded Age year.
– Steampunk
– 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:
“Magical realism”

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:

Fall is in the air.

Can the good life be far away?

Visit the store for mentions in this and other posts on this blog.