The other day someone asked me why I still do the liveblog. After all, I’ve done it three years in a row. Isn’t it time to move on? To which I say: Definitely not! I’ve been so focused on my day job lately that I’m barely finding time to read anything. (Alas, snarking on fashion magazines does not pay the rent, though I’m willing to entertain
offers.) If not for this liveblog, I might never read September Vogue. That page count is intimidating!
As always, the rules: I have not opened this issue of Vogue. I have not read what any other writers thought about this issue. I’ll be looking at everything except the cover for the first time. The liveblog happens in real time, so just hit refresh on this post to see the latest entries. And I’ll be posting periodic updates on Twitter and Facebook throughout the day, too.
Here we go!
10:01 a.m.: Well, what is there to say about Halle Berry? She seems to have appropriated Anna Wintour’s haircut for this cover, but she could wear a Katy Perry-style colored wig and still be gorgeous. Also, she’s apparently the first African-American woman to appear on the September cover since 1989, which is just shameful.
10:04 a.m.: Seriously, 1989. 21 years. That’s certainly sending a message, but I sure don’t like what Vogue is saying.
10:05 a.m.: On to the ads! The issue opens with Ralph Lauren Romance, Prada, and Dior, the latter of which features some truly amazing lacy thigh-highs. I could never, ever pull them off, and probably never afford them, but I desperately want them anyway. Congratulations, fashion! You win this round!
10:08 a.m.: The models in this Gucci ad are seventeen feet tall.
10:09 a.m.: There’s a Revlon ad featuring Jessica Biel, Halle Berry, and Jessica Alba at a Revlon Run-Walk for Women. None of them appear to be wearing much makeup. They all look gorgeous. These are the faces magazines are Photoshopping into oblivion?
10:11 a.m.: More ads: Madonna for Dolce & Gabbana, blue eyeshadow from Estee Lauder, fur (ugh) in Fendi, lots of faux-science for Lancome. Scarlett Johansson for Dolce & Gabbana beauty, Chanel on a fire escape, and lots of military influence for Burberry Prorsum.
10:14 a.m.: Hey, Miu Miu? Maybe you didn’t notice, but the models in your ad appear to be missing their eyebrows.
10:16 a.m.: Two pages of Tucker for Target. Here’s my thought process pretty much every time Target releases a new designer collaboration: Ooh, that’s gorgeous! I must get to Target right away. And then I go to Target and try things on and discover the entire line is either a) unwearably short or b) made of cheap, shiny fabric. You won’t fool me again, Target!
10:19 a.m.: Michael Kors ads are what my life would look like if I were wealthy and blonde.
10:20 a.m.: Kate Moss nude for David Yurman. Yawn. Seen it a million times.
10:22 a.m.: At last! The table of contents! Julia Reed on the Gulf, Blake Lively in Paris (sensing strong eye-rolling potential in this article), and, well, I’m just going to quote this one:
What Hillary Clinton’s aide-de-camp wore to the altar
10:24 a.m.: Gap has a fold-out for their new collection of black pants, which they claim “fit like a dream.” Maybe the best way to illustrate that isn’t with a passel of six-foot-tall models. I mean, what doesn’t fit them like a dream?
10:28 a.m.: MORE ADS, in summary: everything is black, trimmed in fur, and made of leather. That’s pretty much it.
10:30 a.m.: Did I mention fringe? There’s a lot of fringe.
10:32 a.m.: Bulgari’s ad features a naked model holding some kind of wild cat cubs. Juicy Couture’s models are cradling tiny rabbits. Either they’re declaring live animals to be this fall’s hottest accessory or I’m missing something.
10:33 a.m.: I really, really hope I’m missing something.
10:34 a.m.: More contents! Two Lynn Yaeger articles! I’m delirious with anticipation.
10:37 a.m.: Nearly 200 pages in and I’m not even all the way through the table of contents. More coffee, please.
10:39 a.m.: Multi-page ads for Aldo, Express, and Payless, followed by what appears to be the final page of the table of contents. Coming up: articles about tennis, equestrian sports, the “best restaurant in the world,” and Reed and Delphine Krakoff’s collection of “iconic furniture masterworks.” I guess they have to counter those mall-store ads somehow.
10:50 a.m.: I just realized that, two hundred pages of ads into this magazine, I’ve yet to spot a dead-model pose. What a pleasant surprise!
10:52 a.m.: “Letter from the Editor” begins. Let’s see what Anna has to say this month.
10:54 a.m.: Of course, it’s about Fashion’s Night Out, which is, according to Anna Wintour, a response to adversity.
I thought about that recently when I spoke to the interns spending their summers at Conde Nast. What these bright, ambitious young men and women need to know about is the thing we all have to face in our working lives at some point or other: turning a negative situation into a positive one. You have to learn to deal with adversity, I told them…
Which is great and all, but doesn’t acknowledge that fashion’s exclusivity and relative inaccessibility is a huge part of why the fashion industry suffers when the economy does. How would Wintour reconcile that, I wonder?
11:06 a.m.: Thirty-two pages later, still on Wintour’s editor’s letter:
As a side note, it was gratifying to me to see so many of these clothes worn at the collection by models who glowed with a radiant health. I like to think that the work of the CFDA Health Initiative has had a profound effect on designers, who now think of their girls as women.
I’d like to see if this is borne out here in the pages of Vogue. Wintour goes on to cite the presence of “Victoria’s Secret’s Doutzen Kroes and Miranda Kerr” on the runways as evidence of more womanly shapes gaining prominence in the industry, as if lingerie models are somehow more representative of the general populace than any other model is.
11:11 a.m.: Linda Evangelista in a four-page spread for Talbot’s. Still amazing.
11:12 a.m.: Is it hypocritical of me to call out Anna Wintour about realistic models and then praise Linda Evangelista, who appears to stopped time back in 1990? Perhaps.
11:14 a.m.: Has Bebe stopped selling shirts? I ask because neither of the models in their ad are wearing one.
11:17 a.m.: An eight-page L’oreal ad calling itself a “Master Class” on hair and makeup. And the line between advertising and editorial blurs further.
11:19 a.m.: It’s time for “Talking Back,” wherein readers express their praise and disdain for the June issue. One reader wants to see more Crystal Renn (co-sign!), another wants more vegan fashion (good luck with that request!), and a Gossip Girl fan wants more Leighton Meester and less Blake Lively.
11:22 a.m.: For those of you keeping track, that’s the second time I’ve mentioned Blake Lively and I haven’t even gotten to the article about her.
11:25 a.m.: And it’s Maybelline’s turn to pretend its ad is actually content with its “Runway Lookbook.”
11:28 a.m.: “Contributors” pages finished (bo-ring), I’ve arrived at Julia Reed’s “Engulfed.”
11:39 a.m.: …and I’ve finished Reed’s article, which was actually quite even-handed and relegated New Orleans’ celebrity residents, Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock, to a paragraph near the end. The article focuses largely on the city’s blue-collar residents, which is quite a departure for Vogue.
11:42 a.m.: Next up: a profile of Jonathan Franzen, who is either the greatest novelist who ever lived or the most over-hyped writer in all of history. Let’s read the article and find out!
11:44 a.m.: Ooh, the intro calls this interview “candid” and his new novel “epic.”
11:46 a.m.: The Franzen profile is split by an ad for the Chase Sapphire credit card, which is a better comment on the contents of this magazine than I could ever imagine.
11:49 a.m.: So I’ve never read any of Franzen’s books, but this quote is unwittingly trenchant commentary about Vogue:
“We’re unprecedentedly rich and free; why is everyone so miserable?”
11:51 a.m.: Skipping the actual excerpt of the book. For now, I’m far more interested in the lovely confections in the Mulberry ad.
11:52 a.m.: Other than the purple fur, that is.
11:53 a.m.: The Guiseppe Zanotti ad appears to have been influenced by bad-girl Sandy from the end of Grease. And not in a good way. Shiny cropped pants and a leather jacket? Maybe on Halloween. Maybe.
12:01 p.m.: Reading about women in the military. Another surprisingly good article, which I’m sure will be balanced out by the Blake Lively thing.
12:02 p.m.: That’s Blake mention #3! Sorry, Meester fans.
12:03 p.m.: An ad for Marc Jacobs’ new cologne, called Bang, in the middle of an article about combat operations. That probably could have been handled better.
12:04 p.m.: Also of note: Marc Jacobs has a tattoo of Spongebob Squarepants.
12:06 p.m.: Focus, Wendy, focus! Back to the article.
12:09 p.m.: Just finished “Bye-Bye Baby,” about mothers heading to war. After the New Orleans article and now this, kind of makes the rest of the magazine seem frivolous.
12:11 p.m.: And Vogue doesn’t help by following up “Bye-Bye Baby” with an article about Helmut Lang moving to New York…in 1995.
12:15 p.m.: I just can’t. From the Helmut Lang piece:
Before long, I settled into a cycle of moving between Vienna, Paris, and New York, often on the Concorde, every few weeks. There was a restaurant circuit: Mr. Chow to Da Silvano to Indochine to Florent to Lucky Strike–the big deal back then–and from 1997 onward, Balthazar. The hotel was always the Royalton.
12:19 p.m.: Skipping ahead to the Blake Lively in Paris article, which I’m sure will be so much more palatable.
12:20 p.m.: Or not.
She came, she saw the haute couture, she conquered the City of Light.
12:26 p.m.: Here’s how you get Christian Louboutin to name a shoe after you. When he shows you a sketch of his latest style, exclaim, “That is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! I want to sleep with it under my pillow at night!”
12:27 p.m.: For best results, you should probably be Blake Lively and then say those words.
12:31 p.m.: What the hell, Lanvin? Models with slicked-back hair, bright pink lips, and smokey black shadow up to their brows standing hunched into a box? It’s like a sadistic version of a Robert Palmer video.
12:34 p.m.: “Green Days” features “utility-chic pieces in military hues.” Insert insightful commentary here about the juxtaposition of military chic with the reality of military life presented earlier in this issue.
12:36 p.m.: I mean, following up an article talking about war casualties with captions like
Skinny cargos for the urban warrior
A flak jacket/knit hybrid
comes across a bit insensitive, no?
12:39 p.m.: Page 424 features the wedding gowns of Hillary Clinton staffer Huma Abedin and models Coco Rocha and Lara Stone, if you’re into that kind of thing. Requisite exaggeration, courtesy of Zac Posen: “[Rocha's dress] is beyond couture. It was a major labor of love.”
12:42 p.m.: Still, just one page devoted to three brides? Way less annoying than last year’s article about Sylvana Soto-Ward’s “recession” wedding. Congratulations are in order, I guess?
12:46 p.m.: Wait wait wait. Why is the bride article page 424 but the page before it (with just a right-hand page ad in between, mind you) was 420? So page 420, an ad, and then page 424? I don’t get it. WHAT HAPPENED TO THOSE OTHER TWO PAGES? I demand those two pages back!
12:49 p.m.: On second thought…
12:50 p.m.: And then all the page numbers disappear until page 448. WHAT IS HAPPENING?
12:52 p.m.: Clearly I need a break. I’ll see you back here in a little while, when I’ll resume liveblogging from page…whatever.
1:40 p.m.: Wow, it’s beautiful outside. But I’m back–and inside–to finish this up.
1:44 p.m.: The “Flash” section has all the details–plus a handy map!–for Fashion’s Night Out in New York. Which is great, if, you know, you live in New York. Not so great if you live in Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, or one of the other cities Anna Wintour mentioned in her editor’s letter as locales for the event.
1:46 p.m.: The next page features “floor-skimming frocks” for a “haute hippie vibe.” Can you really be “haute” and “hippie” simultanenous? I don’t think so! Find another way to describe long dresses worn with sandals, Vogue.
1:49 p.m.: Takeaway from the Cesare Pacotti ad: they’re the perfect footwear for those times when you just want to wear a coat over lingerie and straddle a bearded man.
1:50 p.m.: A Tom Ford ad without Tom Ford in it. Always a good thing.
1:52 p.m.: Page numbers have resumed! No, I’m not going to go back and see if more pages are missing. Anyway, page 448 has an article about an activist working in Haiti. This is an awful lot of social conscience for one issue of Vogue.
1:53 p.m.: Not complaining. Just saying.
1:56 p.m.: File under fall looks I will not even attempt: the turbans on page 458.
1:57 p.m.: “Life with Andre”! And he’s in L.A. I can’t wait to read his insights on my hometown.
2:00 p.m.: Never mind. It’s mostly about LACMA‘s director, Michael Govan, though ALT does mention that Govan is wearing ten-year-old Prada and that he once flew to Beijing with Govan’s wife. Wouldn’t be ALT without a little namedropping.
2:03 p.m.: Manolo Blahnik says:
“People need to see more beauty these days. I don’t think the world in these difficult times has enough.”
Which he plans to remedy with a new design of shoes. Guess it’s only the wealthy who need more beauty. Those who can’t afford Manolos are apparently doing just fine.
2:06 p.m.: Yeah, I just can’t manage to get into this Hamish Bowles article. And the next article is by Lynn Yaeger, so I’m moving on.
2:11 p.m.: Still reading this article…but wanted to note that the page numbers appear to have skipped ahead again. Yaeger’s article starts on 480, there’s a double-sided ad for Zappos, and the next page is 485. Huh? Do ads count double?
2:14 p.m.: So, “Learning Curves” is basically about the exaggerated feminine silhouette that took hold in the 1950s and how awful the undergarments needed to achieve that look were. Requisite mention of Mad Men and Christina Hendricks? Check.
2:19 p.m.: Oops, sorry, make that “the incredibly sensuous Christina Hendricks.”
2:21 p.m.: Sally Singer writes about being fitted for a custom-made Ralph Lauren suit. By Ralph Lauren himself. Starting at $5,800. The page’s subhead? “The Way We Shop Now.” Oh, okay.
2:23 p.m.: Singer also calls herself “hourglass-figured,” while the accompanying photograph of her shows her to be as slender as the models on the magazine’s other pages. Either her definition of “hourglass” varies from mine, or that Ralph Lauren suit is seriously magical.
2:27 p.m.: Lynn Yeager again. Actual quote:
Remember when $800 was a lot for a purse?
Uh, no, I don’t remember.
2:28 p.m.: Other gems: sweaters are female (Yaeger refers to one as “she”) and admits she once considered flying back to Paris to exchange a dress. Wow.
2:36 p.m.: I just can’t, part 2.
This woman prefers traditional online shopping, because of the larger screen, but goes phone shopping when necessary. Recently, she was in St.-Tropez, shopping in an actual store, when her Net-a-Porter adviser called her, saying that a pair of white brogues from Church’s were available in her size after being sold out. “So I had to act fast,” she said in an e-mail. “It was exhilarating to know that even though I was outside the States, I could still shop for what I wanted, and it would be waiting for me upon my return. I was guilty of shopping in two different time zones at once!”
2:39 p.m.: Also? According to this same article, MAC makes it really easy for a “town-car rider” to order lipstick.
2:42 p.m.: According to Florence Kane’s “You Send Me,” women in L.A. don’t go to boutiques anymore–they just have their personal shoppers send items directly to their homes. Guess I didn’t get the memo.
2:43 p.m.: Page 508 uses the term “luxe-grunge.” That may be even more obnoxious than “haute hippie.”
2:51 p.m.: Articles about fashion resembling porcelain, a Parisian designer who makes short, black dresses, and Fashion Week in Pakistan.
2:54 p.m.:Interesting idea from the article about fashion in Pakistan that I wish had been further explored:
…[the designer] pays 700 women to do traditional embroidery, which he incorporates into his designs… “If a woman is making her own money, she can pay for her children’s schooling. They don’t have to go to madrasas, which people go to because they’re free,” he reasons. “You’ve saved them from becoming suicide bombers.”
I can’t determine if this is actually true or just self-aggrandizement on the part of the designer, but either way, worth exploring.
2:58 p.m.: Ethical fashion from model Lily Cole, square-toed shoes…and we’ve arrived at the beauty section!
3:03 p.m.: It’s all about Fashion’s Night Out and the various items available for purchase during the event. Of note: Chanel’s khaki nail polishes. You know, in case greige wasn’t unflattering enough.
3:06 p.m.:Also potentially of note: page 538 features Justin Timberlake in velvet pants.
3:17 p.m.: The health section features an article about multiple sclerosis, which one doctor calls a “disease of affluence.” Which explains why Vogue is covering it.
3:18 p.m.: Just to be clear: I’m not making light of MS. Just of Vogue.
3:20 p.m.: “People Are Talking About”…that section I never read. I see little reason to start today.
3:21 p.m.: Models in the Versace ad are wearing cold-shoulder dresses. Is that coming back? I suppose I should be grateful they aren’t cold-shoulder bodysuits. Everything I wore in high school is coming back to haunt me.
3:23 p.m.: More about Fashion’s Night Out. Can you stand it? I’m not sure I can.
3:27 p.m.: In summary: two pages of self-adulation. Twelve pages of portraits featuring odd combinations of models, actors, and athletes. Usher next to Rachel Weisz? An Olsen with orange hair next to a hockey player in his New York Rangers uniform? Dakota Fanning and Elly Jackson of La Roux? Okay!
3:30 p.m.: Just looked at those pictures again. They’re like the weirdest class portraits ever taken.
3:32 p.m.: On to “Sweater Girl,” with Lara Stone. Did Vogue manage to refrain from congratulating itself for casting the “voluptuous” Lara Stone? Let’s find out!
3:36 p.m.: So, if you have a grand to drop on a sweater, I highly recommend you check out this fashion spread. Otherwise? It’s lovely but not very exciting.
3:37 p.m.: Next up: “Checks and the City.” Get it? Get it?
3:39 p.m.: Wine-colored lipstick, tweedy plaids…yep, I’m pretty sure it’s 1992 again.
3:41 p.m.: Wonder how noted vegan Stella McCartney feels about Vogue pairing her dress with leather leggings on page 637?
3:42 p.m.: How long before leather leggings become known by a horrible portmanteau along the lines of jeggings and treggings? Leleggings? Leaggings?
3:43 p.m.: Also, haven’t we seen this leather-and-lace photo spread (here called “Pretty Tough”) like a million times? We get it! It’s tough! It’s feminine! It’s both…just like you!
3:45 p.m.: An article about Eric Holder. A shame this comes near the end of the liveblog, when I’ll have to struggle to pay proper attention. My focus, it’s fading.
3:53 p.m.: Now, on to the Halle Berry article, which promises a look at her “surprisingly grounded” life.
4:02 p.m.: So this part of the Halle Berry profile was awesome:
The only reason she is submitting now, she says, is that Vogue made her an offer she couldn’t refuse: the September cover. “What that means for a woman of color and what that means in the fashion world, what that means to pop culture, there was no way I could say, ‘No, I’m not going to be on the biggest issue of the year.’”
This part was the author patting himself on the back:
…she shoots me a look and then says sweetly, “You are the first writer I have ever let into my house.”
And then there’s this part:
When I ask where we are, she says, “We in the ‘hood,” and then adds, “This is the good part of the ‘hood. There are much scarier ‘hoods.”…It is clear, in other words, that while Berry may live in Beverly Hills and Malibu, she is entirely at home in this part of town.
Is this supposed to be evidence of her being down to earth? Would we see this in an article about a Caucasian celebrity? I really don’t know what to make of this. (From the article, it does seem Berry spends significant time in less well-heeled neighborhoods than her own as part of her work for a domestic violence shelter.)
4:10 p.m.: Next is an article about “British tennis sensation Andy Murray,” and other than noting Anna Wintour’s apparently ongoing obsession with tennis players, I just don’t care. Moving on.
4:11 p.m.: Barf.
Reed and Delphine Krakoff marry a passion for old-world detail with a collection of iconic furniture masterworks. Hamish Bowles is suitably impressed.
4:16 p.m.: Aw, the people who live in an 18,000-square-foot home decorated with priceless antiques even have their own O. Henry story:
Their tastes are so symbiotic that the two have even been known to bid against each other at auction. Case in point: an Alexandre Noll sculpture that Delphine thought would be perfect for Reed. “I kept on bidding and bidding and bidding, and I’m like, ‘This person is insane; this is too much!’ So I stopped. That Christmas, when I opened my gift from Reed, I had a big laugh. I told him, ‘I know you paid too much for this!’”
4:20 p.m.: Prince Charles on page 666!
4:22 p.m.: Prince Charles would like you to save the planet via your wardrobe, preferably by wearing wool, which seems very manageable for someone who lives in England.
4:24 p.m.: More rich-people things!
Monaco blue blood Charlotte Casiraghi is a rising star of show jumping…
4:25 p.m.: Jeffrey Steingarten visits “the best restaurant in the world,” which I suppose is still under the category of “rich-people things.”
4:30 p.m.: It is only the slightest exaggeration to say that the word “sorrel” appears in every other sentence of this article.
4:31 p.m.: Suppose I should look it up.
4:34 p.m.: From “Va-Va-Boom”:
The emergence of the Victoria’s Secret women on catwalks thrilled the fashion audience–did this mean that the industry finally had a place for slightly bigger, slightly older women?
Emphasis on “slightly.” They’re still women who wear lingerie for a living. Sheesh.
4:40 p.m.: Oh, but it isn’t about the women. It’s about the clothes. Marc Jacobs:
“There was such a sigh of relief from press and buyers that there were clothes for women…I think it was the new thing to talk about this season, but I don’t know how lasting it will be. What we all love and hate about fashion is that it’s all about change–and who knows what will we love and what will feel fresh next season?”
So, you know, if your body type happens to be out of style next season, too bad! Also, Vogue, maybe you could stop acting like fashion is sooo accepting of different body types every time 50s silhouettes come into style, because as soon as those styles are gone, so is the acceptance of curvier bodies. It’s just so predictable. And predatory.
4:43 p.m.: The article closes with Chanel Iman lamenting her thinness and wishing she could be curvier. At this point in the day, I can’t even process the irony.
4:46 p.m.: A photoshoot featuring artist Nick Cave in his amazing costumes, sporting various (mostly fur-trimmed) accessories. The bags? Meh. Nick Cave’s soundsuit performances? Worth a Google.
4:48 p.m.: More fashion: “We Are the World,” which is a “veritable United Nations of kaleidoscopic embellishment and texture.” And fur. Lots of fur.
4:50 p.m.: Vogue wants you to buy Fashion’s Night Out tees, tanks, and hoodies, and as pretty much the only affordably priced items in this issue, I can’t argue with them.
4:51 p.m.: Eager to see more fashion that only a model could pull off? You’re in luck! “Tender is the Night” is packed with silky, ankle-brushing skirts topped with chunky sweaters and beehive hairdos.
4:53 p.m.: “Index” claims to have “a few cool things to shop for on Fashion’s Night Out itself,” because, you know, they didn’t put things to buy on every other page of this issue.
4:55 p.m.: So, what should you buy? $840 plaid Etro booties, $100 note cards, a $509 Ann Demeulemeester necklace for a “rocker girl.” Maybe you’d like a $25 bundle of birch logs? (The hell?) Or $125 old-fashioned glasses, if you’re into “clean chic.” Or, if you’re really into Vogue‘s twenties trend, how about a velvet sofa? (Price not listed.)
4:58 p.m.: THE LAST PAGE! What have we here?
4:59 p.m.: It’s a $1600 pair of Louis Vuitton shoes, designed by Marc Jacobs, and naturally, the caption contains a quote from Jacobs. Do they just keep Jacobs on retainer at Vogue? He’s been quoted constantly in this issue, even when he doesn’t even make sense. Here, in “Last Look,” he explains that he’s designed a pair of shoes to be “dowdy–in a good way,” which requires explanation. There is none.
5:01 p.m.: The back cover is a Lancome ad. And I have never been so glad to see a Lancome ad in my life.