Stop reading at once if you don’t like my occasional rants about Vogue. But it’s one of those months when a large thump on the mat means it’s Vogue’s International Collections Special – in other words, there are a few articles, a couple of fashion shoots and whole lot of ads.
I open it and here’s an article on body hair, which apparently is back in ‘vogue,’ so should one go au naturel, the author asks? As the article always talks about a bit of down on the shin (yes, that’s shin) I say, please give those who really do have body hair (me for one) a break.
Then there are the fashion shoots, some with lovely, quite exquisite clothes, which makes me feel I must get something like that (from a charity shop, natch) which would be exactly what the editor is aiming at; the shoots are there to inspire. Yet some clothes are just odd; and all, unsurprisingly, at extortionate prices. But this time even denim gets the designer treatment. How about a shredded denim jacket at £999, or an embellished denim dress at £3,170? Actually I’d be interested how that dress gets to be priced. I’ve started watching the Great British Sewing Bee and one week the participants’ task was to revamp a denim jacket or skirt. One or two were truly original and equal to anything in the Vogue denim section. Did any of you see that programme? The best made article from that particular week was a lovely pink spotted dress with cut-outs made by a lieutenant-colonel from the British Army, who, I kid you not, took his sewing machine to Bosnia.
And what’s this? An article on porn for women? And I mean proper porn (is that an oxymoron) or New Porn as they like to call it, and I’m not talking about just a few pics of Jamie Dorman’s pecs. So I read it and suffice to say I felt slightly tacky afterwards. And although I was aiming to not say all that much about it, as I could get into deep trouble writing about such a personal thing, really, the article is trying to say that this apparently liberal and feminine porn is different. Well, however much you talk this porn for women up you cannot say that. Because, no matter how liberated the actors and/or participants are in this feminised porn they are still the objects of the gaze of the observer. And even if the majority of the observers are women (and I don’t have the viewing figures so I wouldn’t know but I dare say a few men are watching as well) who is profiting from this? And no, I didn’t try any of the sites mentioned so I could be completely wrong but I’m near to spitting tacks about this article. Admittedly the author confesses to finding the New Porn a total turn off (only in the last paragraph, btw) but you do wonder why the article was written. Has a kind of ‘getting down with the kidz’ feel to it.
Then my gaze takes in the models both in the ads and the photo shoots and I sigh with exasperation yet again, because it’s not the thinness of some of the models that strikes you it’s their extreme youth (one in particular) often set in a kind of noir, sexualised landscape.
Julia Twigg* in her book Fashion and Age argues that fashion shoots over the last two decades have increasingly used highly sexualised edgy imagery to suit and reflect the visual values of the young, male spectator’s gaze. But Vogue – do you think extreme youth attracts women to buy clothes?
I know Vogue wants to be aspirational but extreme youth must be unattainable for most readers. Therefore, as we cannot attain this youth we readers might say, ‘because I cannot look like that I won’t be buying those clothes’. Or maybe I’ve got it wrong and a model’s age is immaterial?
Nevertheless, I do feel that there should be some recognition that over the next ten years two-thirds of all retail spending growth will come from those aged 55 and over**. Think about that, Vogue! Cater for us, why don’t you?
Despite my irritation with Vogue, I shall continue to buy it, as it does give you the most up-to-date news about trends and style. We may say we don’t follow fashion but actually we do more than we think. As I’ve said before, just go into any vintage outlet and try on an 80s dress – not a good look! And Vogue also alerts you to current trends in popular culture – books, art, films and especially exhibitions such as the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition opening at the V&A in March through to August – am I going, oh yes, can’t wait!
That’s all for now
Penny, the frugalfashionshopper
*Julia Twigg (2013) Fashion and Age. Dress, the Body and Later Life. P109