a good vintage: on the shelf
A few of the older editions of US Vogue I still have - how I wished I kept more. As a child and as a teenager, I was fascinated and intimidated by fashion. They were windows to an aesthetically refined world, that bore very little relation to my everyday life of as a schoolgirl in uniform. They were an education in fashion, art, film and photography, and even now I can trace my preference for certain things back to them, even as I have come to see the aspects in which they are lacking.
It seems silly to some of my friends and family at first when they learn of my library of magazines, neatly shelved, arranged by title and year, tended carefully the way I tend to my novels and other books. But there's a difference between these magazines, and publications like Cosmopolitan, or Glamour, or Cleo. The photography is among the best - Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh, Annie Leibowitz, Patrick Demarchelier, Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton. There are pictures in there I would gladly frame up, and I love that such photography gems were available for a few dollars on newstands around the world, every month. Now that some of these photographers have passed on, I often think, why didn't I keep more of them?
Anyway I thought since I'm on a nostalgia trip - it must the end of the year making me sentimental for lost time - I would go through an issue thoroughly and see how I feel about these pictures a decade on.
This is one of the oldest issues I still have around, from April 1999. By then, my magazine habit was full-fledged - I didn't buy every issue but every month, I diligently went to Tower Books (just above Tower Records) and decided which titles were worth parting my pocket money with. (Tower Books and Tower Records were a browser's heaven, I spent hour in them choosing books, magazines, and music.)
I remember I loved the ball skirt and tank top look on the cover because I'd loved Sharon Stone wearing her then-husband's shirt with her Vera Wang ball skirt to the 1998 Oscars and I thought that was terribly glamorous and offhand at the same time. I've lost my taste for this look by now, but Sharon Stone's look? Still utterly timeless.
I loved this Ralph Lauren campaign with Gisele - the purity, the ease, the feel of luxury. I wonder whether a designer could build a luxury business now on such designswhen people can get the same looks at Zara and Uniqlo? The quality might be crappier, but not everyone cares.
This Liz Claiborne look is so very Ashley Olsen now -
I liked this editorial more for the mood than the clothes -
The Yohji look on the right, I'll always love. It's sculptural and easy, somehow -
There's also nothing especially interesting about the clothes in this editorial, but the all-American styling is a great frame for Lauren Hutton. These preppy, WASP-y editorials were very common in Vogue then.
Everything in this editorial of white shirts prove what a staple white shirting is (okay, as if we need anyone to tell us that). The actresses may not faded into obscurity, but the clothes live on.
This feature of the Star Wars prequel costumes was one reason why I bought this issue. I liked Star Wars as a kid and was pretty excited by the prequels. Who knew they would be so blah? The costumes were great though. Audrey Marnay is really working them.
The Fendi Baguette! Not an issue went by without one for at least two years, I think. For something hyped as a new classic, I think they look quite dated. What do you think?
Katherine Betts, who went on to a short-lived stint at Bazaar, created the Index section still found in the current Vogues.
I prefer the way Vogue does these shopping pages now, because they cram relatively less products on the pages and usually center it around a model or society It Girl so it doesn't look just like rows of product.
I really wanted one of these then. I wonder what happened to them?
There are lots more I haven't bothered to capture - including a timely article about how the new dot-com rich spend their money (this was before the tech bubble burst in 2000) and women working in the IT sector. Those really captured a portrait of the era: confident, optimistic, a shift from traditional sectors to the new. There was also a funny piece on being suckered by sample sales, and an essay by the legendary fashion journalist Amy Spindler, former style editor of The New York Times Magazine, on her battle with cancer. She died, but passed away in 2004 from a brain tumour.
I'm a tad surprised at how much of what I saw in the magazine I would still happily wear, although perhaps 12 years isn't all that long ago. Still, with the Kurt Andersen essay in mind, I feel like it's not a bad thing that not ALL clothes have evolved and innovated beyond recognition - surely sometimes good design endures to become a classic?
Which are the magazines that captured your style imagination?