Mid August anticipation builds and I start nagging the newsstand shops about the arrival of the September issues – primarily Vogue. I started this draft around September 6 and now September’s almost over. But I’ve still got issues. And those issues are sitting on my coffee table. The September issue is to fashion magazines what Cannes may be to film. But these days, Venice and Toronto might change that seasonal trend. Pretty soon I’ll give the one more look and they’ll be gone. One I will keep around for a bit. Another may go on permanent loan. The first to go into the dead newspaper basket without another look will probably be American Harpers Bazaar.

Harpers Bazaar is usually the first out the gate and consistently my first disappointment. More on that later. The hanger-on will be New York Fall Fashion. This one comes in my mailbox. When I pulled out the magazine with China Mashad on the cover (1 of 4 covers for the weekly), I knew instantly, August had trumped September.

Mashad was photographer Richard Avedon’s muse in the 1950s and 60s. Not only does she have attitude (in the good sense) and style in her photos, she has a fascinating story. Same for New York magazine in recent months: attitude, style, and fascinating stories. There was something decisive about this fall fashion issue even the fashion spreads. Decisive not in a “yes/no” way but more like a road map that actually gets you to your destination. Interpret that as you wish. I declare New York the winner of my annual September issues review.

My only issue with New York is the same-o-same-o about “different.” “Diversity” isn’t different. It just is. By now I get it that Harpers Bazaar doesn’t recognize what is. They just are what they are and aren’t interested. While riots burned in London, Manchester and other austerity drenched U.K. cities, Bazaar was happily putting “Upstairs Downstairs” and Maggie Thatcher to bed. Yes, I’m a fan of “Masterpiece Theatre” and if we’re doing downstairs fashion, it would help to be able to see and distinguish the fashion models from the stand ins. Am I saying, draw sharper class lines? I know Meryl Streep is playing the Iron Maiden in a film due out this year, but is that a catalyst for fall fashion? I suppose in its effort to beat Vogue to the September issues punch, there was no time for anyone to shout “Stop the presses” and reshoot at least the Thatcher spread with more punk pepper. Perhaps they’ll make up for it with a Wall Street theme for December. Gifting time. The occupation of lower Manhattan began right after NY fashion week and continues. This Wall Street Upstairs/Downstairs has everything the fashion editors at HB could want in a theme for a fashion spread.

I’m not the only one with September issues.

Ironically, British Bazaar’s September issue featured Beyonce on the cover. If it’s celebrity bump they’re looking for, then good for B HB since Beyonce’s baby bump was the crack news of the first week of September and then fell flat during fashion week.

I have nothing against Lea Michele of “Glee” fame. I love “Glee” and never miss it. But my “Glee” buzz never goes beyond the broadcast. I own no “Glee” CDs, downloads, or DVD sets. Even Vogue jumped on the “Glee” bandwagon with a centerfold of the cast to promote “Fashion’s Night Out.” The last reason I’d do FNO would be to see the “Glee” cast. Again, nothing personal. IMO British Harpers Bazaar‘s editor had the Wintour celebrity cover foresight.

BTW according to Women’s Wear Daily, the rag page for the serious, professional fashionista:

At the newsstands Vogue is up 12.7%, Harper’s Bazaar is down 14.3%

American HB editor in chief Glenda Bailey had this to say:

“It would be a lot easier if we could feature proven sellers like Jennifer Aniston or Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover every month, but we took some risks this year and tried stars that were a little outside of the norm for us, and they didn’t always translate into newsstand sales.”

Yes, everyone’s trying to reign in the teens, and in defiance, HB took the lead in ringing in the women who lunch and have the cash flow to buy the magazine’s features. Former super model and actress Isabella Rosellini had this to say in her interview in New York magazine:

“I don’t look at Vogue to ask what I”m going to wear. Because it’s something on a body too young. I have to look at the social pages to see women my age. To see how Amanda Burden is dressed and say, ‘Hmmmm, Maybe I should try that.’ They give advice to young people: ‘If you are brunette, this color would be best.’ But I would love it if the magazine said, ‘When you are in your sixties and your neck is like this, consider wearing this'”

Rosellini and her daughter Elettra Wiedemann (now a model) were one of 4 Fall Fashion covers for this year’s New York magazine (see above).

Some Vogue September issues are better than others and none has been better than the September issue that became the subject of the documentary of the same title. No documentary has promoted a magazine and its brand so effectively than “September Issue.” I actually own a DVD copy. One of the fashion features in this year’s September issue was a China theme dressed up kinda in the same way Vogue and HB does Kenya or another “Out of Africa” location with 21st century locals as backdrop. Models were capped with black page boys wigs. A few prominent Chinese movie types are included — director Lu Chuan, Daniel Wu and Fan Bing Bing as well as other cultural celebrities. This is no Sophia Coppola movie moment. When you’re hobnobbing with the ones who can buy, you gotta blend.

Just for fun, here’s the September issue cover for Vogue China. Hmmm. No page boys here.

Kate Moss was a good choice for the American Vogue cover having both model and celebrity wrapped into one package. Not only is she not 12 anymore she actually looks better with age. I pay more attention to Kate’s spreads now than I did in the 90s during the grunge/heroin chic era. In another Wintour coup, the September issue generated chatter in the fashionsphere (Read The Emperor’s Old Clothes blog). Vogue was the exclusive photographer for Kate Moss and rocker Jamie Hince’s wedding. Not only was the wedding a feature featured but also the designer of Moss’ wedding dress, the mericulous disgraced former Dior chief designer John Galliano. Regardless of Galliano’s remarks in that Paris bar or his dismissal from Christian Dior, it appears all is forgiven at Vogue especially when fashion’s concerned. And he did design and gift Kate Moss a stunning wedding dress inspired by the jazz age.

But Pultizer-prize winning fashion journalist Robin Givhan credits Moss for keeping the light on for Galliano:

“She is a model who has known Galliano some 20 years and must surely have a better sense of what is in his heart than those who can only judge him by what he said and what he did while in the haze of addiction. Standing on the outside looking in, the only thing to read into Moss’s choice of Galliano is this: She is his friend. And for a man who was once hailed as a creative genius, who has seen his professional life destroyed by his own hand, that must be a sweet salvation.”

Personally, I thought Wintour was hinting that this Kate’s wedding dress was her pick over the other Kate’s. Would Sara Burton’s design for Alexander McQueen make the cut for this year’s blockbuster exhibit at the Met.

Perhaps if fashion is going to have any relevance in the coming years, it might be wise to look to the edge with a golden parachute.