As I flicked through the April issue of American Vogue – a mercifully thin, advertising-light edition – I noticed that every one of the three or so editorials were in the same style despite being the creative fruits borne from different creative minds. Grace C, Edward E, David S and so forth. All major players yet how come this similarity and reduction of their efforts to Dynamism? “Dynamic”. I loathe that word. Especially when used in the context of fashion to imply movement caught freeze frame. The jumping model, all gangly and wide eyed, arms flaying like spaghetti, caught in some contorted pose. Or the mock I’m-going-to-work executive power stride, model caught legs akimbo, feet comically just off the ground, bemused mock gasp at the camera, usually with a pair of sunglasses, arms tucked behind her ears, lenses perched precariously atop barnet.
Added to this, the way American Vogue portrays “serious” portraits of women of importance – goodwill ambassadors, presidents, first ladies – in a serious, classical style gives a mixed message. There’s a constant flit between composed worthiness and girlish excitement. Will the real SLIM LADY please stand up?
Its all very 80s. And quite repetitive yet stagnant for something that should suggest movement. What irks me the most is that this type of photography reduces the model to a gangly, that word again, school girl – hopelessly, haplessly happy! Women as time-starved hysterical beings, caught like rabbits in the headlights. I just don’t get it. It reduces American Vogue to a predictable door-stopper when really it should be breaking boundaries not just in content but also in the presentation of style. After all, it IS a fashion magazine first and foremost, is it not?
Movement implied, even when absent
American Vogue isn’t the only culprit but it has somehow made this style its trademark. Now signatures are crucial but at some point the line between them and cliché becomes blurred. In general, magazines really need to evaluate how they portray themselves. Nary a day goes by without the naysayers foretelling the print industry’s curtain call. A bit premature, perhaps. Nothing beats flicking through real pages. It’s a bit like smoking – sometimes its the routine and process rather than what is ingested where the PLEASURE lies.
Regarding content. Fashion to flatter every figure? Is that possible? Diets, eating disorders, cosmetic surgery – The Beauty Lecture. Haven’t women read enough of these dogmas masquerading as good advice? Its spring so what’s new? Well lose weight and slap on the fake tan. Escapism. For sure. But what about an issue dedicated to staying in? Finding your own paradise at home, in your own company? The wardrobe foibles of a stay-at-home executive? I don’t know. Something useful. Something real. Something fanciful. Just get the models to stay perfectly, beautifully still. (From time to time, at least)
PS Amazing hair on Liya Kibede.
Vogue Italia: Ease up on the soft focus romanticism.
British Vogue: Keep it up.
Vogue Paris: Let Helmut Newton rest in peace.