The Highjacking of Vogue Magazine
The most coveted annual issue of Vogue is out this week. Known as the September Issue, the thickest edition of the year has been a guide to Fall fashion – a season that signifies the beginning of a new year for most women – for decades. This is the issue where women learn about trends in hemlines, style, rise, cut, color and fabric – all displayed on models wearing outrageously expensive fashions that will give a hint to what will be on the hangers in Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Target, and Zara – at a significantly lower price point.
For decades, fashion models graced the cover of Vogue but the magazine has changed over the past decade with some critics going so far as to say the magazine has been hijacked, changed into a magazine that looks more like a collision between People Magazine, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Entertainment Weekly. Where fashion models once graced the cover, Vogue now displays Beyoncé, Rhianna, Cate Blanchett, Lutia Myong, Gwen Stefani, Rooney Mara, Katy Perry and even Kim Kardashion and Kanye West on the April, 2014 cover. With Vogue Spain or Vogue Paris displaying models more often than starlets, the everyday fashionista has to ask what’s going on? The answer lies with Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief: Anna Wintour.
Anna Wintour has been at the helm of Vogue since 1988 – 26 years and the second longest running editor in the history of the magazine (Edna Woolman Chase was editor for 37 years from 1914-1951). In the early years, Wintour was fully committed to the display of fashion displaying models on most of the covers and in the pages along with the requisite advertisements. Even as late as 2004, Wintour put 9 supermodels on the most coveted issue of the year – the September Issue – but things really started changing ten years ago at about the same time magazine readership started declining (while the internet was exploding).
Although technically still a fashion magazine, Vogue began displaying celebrities on both its cover and feature stories, blurring the line between Hollywood and the catwalk. From 2005 – 2013, the cover of the September Issue included Sarah Jessica Parker, Kirsten Dunst, Siena Miller, Keira Knightley, Charlize Theron, Halle Berry, Lady Gaga, and Jennifer Lawrence; Kate Moss on the September, 2011 issue was the only exception. Celebrity covers seem to sell issues which in turn drives advertising dollars which fuels the publication of the magazine and all the jobs needed to create a magazine in a world where the magazine is dying a slow death.
Jump forward to September, 2014 and three supermodels (Cara Delevingne, Joan Smalls, and Karlie Kloss) are on the cover (there are six more models if the three-page cover is opened – reminiscent of the September 2004 ssue) of the 856 page issue, marking a return to Vogue covers of the past. The big question is whether Vogue will go back to its fashion roots or remain a reflection of our obsession with celebrities? Although the lines of fashion can often overlap into other fields, fashion at its core is an art..it’s about lines, color, fabric, sewing, and creative genius. It’s not about Hollywood although I’ve been told that’s debatable.