the mechanics behind getting dressed
It must be serious business indeed if The New York Times finds it necessary to cover it - how American Vogue plays a role in dressing people for the all-important Costume Institute Ball (I think it was last night).
To be honest although it's a Met event, anyone reading American Vogue (hereforth simply referred to as 'Vogue') would mistake it for a Vogue/Anna Wintour event. The designers worn, sponsoring, or featured are usually those favoured by Vogue, and the roster of guests are the sort you see regularly in the magazine. Whenever I see the ball covered by other magazines (like Bazaar, etc) I always get a minor jolt, thinking, 'Oh yeah, it's not really a Vogue thing.'
But it is, isn't it?
So NYT does a story about how Vogue helps some of its guests find the right dress by the right designer (I hope not all guests count on this great service, so boring!) and the whole process just made me realise what an extraordinarily efficient machine the whole publication is.
One Vogue editor interviewed put it this way: "Our goal is to have more fashion statements,” Ms. Melling Burke said. “We put a lot of effort into every aspect of it. We like to have the fashion up to par as well."
That's so.....staged. How do you stage a 'fashion statement?' If the individual is incapable of making her own statement, putting her in an editor-approved outfit is not really going to work (see Jennifer Hudson styled by Andre Leon Talley).
So it works like this - some cool/anointed-as-cool girls are picked by Vogue to come, and then Vogue puts them in touch with designers they think work on the girl. Like Irina Lazareanu gets sent to Phillip Lim -
'"As the model’s fashion fairy godmother, Lauren Davis, a contributing Vogue editor, said she had sent Ms. Lazareanu to Mr. Lim (who is a Vogue favorite) because she 'loves that masculine-feminine look, and I knew Phillip’s whole last collection was very much like that."
Phillip Lim, the designer to whom Ms. Lazareanu was referred, said: “It’s an opportunity for us to present who embodies our clothes. It’s almost like having a live billboard or live campaign.” Mr. Lim chose a short tuxedo-jacket dress from his holiday collection for Ms. Lazareanu."
It might have been more fun to see what Ms Lazareanu would pick for herself. But no, that wouldn't do! It might end a smear on the perfect glossy pages of Vogue. No, no, everything must be perfect.
Actually, I don't mean to rage about Vogue here. I love Vogue, I love it's glossy perfection and the way everything is beautifully laid out and photographed and its own brand of polished creativity. I am completely in awe of Anna Wintour and her utter power over the industry, and how she's not afraid to use it. I love the Fashion Fund and the way it helps young designers and gives them the sort of space you wouldn't otherwise see in a mainstream glossy.
But it all has to be taken with a pinch of salt because it would be so depressing if Vogue's brand of managed perfection becomes the only definition of perfection to its huge readership. I can't imagine a world of editorialisation, where everyone has the same good taste.
In its own way, the whole Costume Institute ball is becoming just like the Oscars, but instead of Hollywood stylists blanding it all down, we have Vogue editors doing the exact same thing, except that they claim to be trying to 'fashion' it up. They even send them to a preferred hairstylist!
Oh by the way, in case we forgot what the whole point was, the designer featured by the Met this year is Paul Poiret. Actually I don't know much about Paul Poiret, but clicking here and there online, I do like how he's a designer that you can't really define. If I wear going to the Met ball (hahaha oh what a deluded statement), I would wear this Derek Lam -
inspired by this -
Or if I didn't really give a fig about what Paul Poiret is all about, I would wear this entire ensemble from Vera Wang -
So what if it's not quite right? I just want to wear it. Just like some days I wear really fancy things to work and other days I wear shorts and a polo. My mood is my own, just like it should be.