Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The purpose of a fashion magaine is...

What is the purpose of a fashion magazine? Most fashion magazines include beauty advice, "real-life" advice, the extravagant parties of high society, and maybe a profile of someone truly inspirational (i.e. a fashion designer, or a designer of something — not a celebrity) in their pages. But these particular magazines are labeled "fashion" for a reason. Most magazines have all the aforementioned content before the fashion spreads (except for the profile of celebrity/designer/some "important" person, which is included before/after the spreads, depending on the magazine). So, we can use the often used phrase of "save the best for last" here to understand perhaps why the spreads are at the end of the issue. The problem is — and I'm mainly talking about US fashion mags — is that the best is not saved for last.

Here is Chanel Iman (what a name for a model - Coco Chanel and Iman-the-supermodel-married-to-Bowie combined. It's too bad she's not like either) for the September US Allure.
I guess this editorial is titled "The Woman. Other." I'm a bit confused on that. She looks "womanly" in the first picture, and then she looks "other" in the second photo? If by "other," they're implying masculine, then yes, I agree. (In actuality, the first two photos were probably side by side, so it reads "The Other Woman.") The problem with this editorial is that there is hardly any styling. Yes, the stylist had to put shoes with the ensembles and add accessories, but save for the Gucci coat in look 7, there is really no styling here. In fact, there is no styling. Even the 7th look is entirely by Chloé - with a Gucci cardigan thrown on top, a hat by Margiela, and a bag by Hermes. Please, Allure, don't get too crazy with your styling!

Oh, and does this dress look familiar?

This is the same dress in look 4, which comes from Miuccia Prada (Prada fall 2010 ready-to-wear). The differences here are the hair, legs (i.e. absence of socks), and shoes. Oh, but the shoes with this particular look are Miu Miu, which is Miuccia's "less expensive" line. Thanks, Allure, you've been sooooooo inspirational by giving readers essentially the exact looks that were shown on the runway, looks that we can see directly on

Now, let's contrast the Allure spread with this one, which is photographed by Henrik Bülow and modeled by Siri Tollerod.
I do not know where this was published, nor are there photo credits, unfortunately. I highly doubt it was in a US publication. Anyway, the contrast between the two editorials is obvious. Chanel Iman is smiling and jumping in Allure, while Siri Tollerod transforms into art. Siri has a case of sexyface, but her posing and the two photos where she's not opening her mouth are the absolute best (look 4 and 6). The photographer, stylist, and model clearly worked together to create something interesting and beautiful. The shadowing in the last two photos adds mystery, and look 6 is a tad creepy. All together, the way the in which Henrik captured Siri, plus the styling, plus the effects added in afterward make for a terribly beautiful spread.

To answer the age old question, "What is art?" I say, fashion is art. Chanel Iman in Allure is not art. Chanel Iman in Allure is not fashion. Instead, it is merely plagiarism.

To end, the purpose of a fashion magazine is to inspire the reader, not to say "here is what you should buy and exactly how you should wear it." Its function is to show beauty in a variety of ways — by mixing up designs to put together a look, by photographing the shoot somewhere other than the common gray-white-tan backdrops, and so on and so forth.

(Photos of Chanel Iman and Siri Tollerod via

1 comment:

Josh said...

Well thought-out analysis. I do wonder, though...we both know I'm not versed in any way to the methods of fashion, but is the American fashion magazine market looking for the same innovation/information as those who read the magazines abroad? Maybe there are certain magazines that really are basically fashion advertisements instead of conveyances of art?