not in vogue anymore?

'“Gwyneth Paltrow, Caroline Trentini, Gisele Bündchen, Nicole Kidman, Sienna Miller, blah, blah, blah,” as the reader, Kathryn Williams of San Diego, said. “I could make a calendar of your cover girls, and it would probably repeat year after year.” She added: “Let’s face it: Vogue is getting a bit stale. It is a pity, too — because the magazine is still much better than the others.”' - a New York Times article quoting froma reader's letter to American Vogue.

Yep, utterly true, and yet, as the letter pointed out, it is still a far better magazine than a lot of the stuff out there, because it hires good writers to write its features, and in terms of design and layout, it's head-and-shoulders above a lot of magazines (clear, uncluttered, well-defined space and sections). Ideally, Vogue is a good read for someone who doesn't want to live and breathe fashion - it looks (glossily) at other equally pleasurable things in life like film, literature, art, politics, food, design, etc etc.

Plus I find it hard to give up on Vogue for sentimental reasons. At age 11, it was my gateway to high fashion. I liked it for the rarefied world it revealed. I wanted to see haute couture, photographed by Irving Penn, knowledgeably written about by Hamish Bowles. In the 90s, which was when I first picked it up, I was introduced to the genius of Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester. Later, I enjoyed the introduction of the intimate "Nostalgia" feature, where the voices of personalities came alive on the pages talking about the inspiration they drew from images from Vogue's past (ironically, I;m doing the same here). Like Nicolas Ghesquiere rhapsodising about Francoise Hardy, or Sofia Coppola remembering Helmut Newton's evocative shots of Charlotte Rampling. My mouth watered reading Jeffrey Steingarten.In Vogue's pages, I also learnt a little about art and went to the library to find out more. Even if other magazines featured the same things, Vogue was where I saw it first, and it was like an introduction to the adult world.

When did it start to go wrong? I know I rolled my eyes when I saw Keira Knightley on the cover for the nth time in September last year. And when the latest January issue featured yet another ladylike 50s'-styled editorial. It's been a yawn for a long time, only occasionally illuminated by little glimpses of excellence. What to do next? I'm lazy to speculate. But I hope Vogue doesn't lose its links to its storied past the way Bazaar has (as pointed out in the NYT article). It lacks edge, but then the Vogue brand to me wasn't built on edge. It was something that was modern and refreshing but classical and refined at the same time. Maybe it's not what sells anymore. But I think I will miss it if it was gone.

In any case, reminiscing gives me the excuse to trot out this old shot from 2000, which I love for the way it evokes the grand portrait tradition while being utterly modern. Plus, I also LOVE this Helmut Lang dress, which to me remains the most sublime example of a modern evening dress til this day.


theresa said…
Hi, I really enjoyed reading this post. I share the same disappointment in Vogue Us as well, the covers are always featuring the standard actress, therefore failing to capture my attention.
You have an amazing blog here, and I really look forward to reading more of your posts, would you like to exchange links?
fashionaddict said…
Thanks for your comments, I've added you to my list of reads and look forward to checking out your blog more often :)

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