The September Issue

Fashion.  There is sort of this caricature of me that I’m not the fashionable person but that Tawn is.  Of course, Tawn’s taste is impeccable and his interest in fashion is very high.  (See his blog, Bino on Fashion)  But that doesn’t mean I’m disinterested in fashion or don’t appreciate it.  I just rarely put too much thought into matters of fashion.

September Issue 2.jpg Last week we saw The September Issue, the new documentary by R.J. Cutler that is essentially the story of the person who inspired The Devil Wears Prada.  Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, is the high priestess of fashion, nearly singlehandedly starting trends and choosing what is in and what is out. 

The real star of the film, though, is Grace Coddington, a former model who is the creative director at Vogue.  Somewhat of a yin to Wintour’s yang, Coddington fights to include things she thinks are beautiful and deserving, even going behind Wintour’s back in one sequence to order undone some airbrushing she thinks is unnecessary.  Coddington and Wintour both started at Vogue the same day twenty years ago and have this interesting relationship that is both collaborative and antagonistic.

Watching this film provided an interesting insight into the world of fashion.  It also helped me coalesces some of my feelings about fashion.

20s Shoot.jpg Left, one of the photos from the September 2007 edition of Vogue as part of a shoot that Coddington designed.

If I’ve earned a reputation as a fashion phoebe, it is because (aside from my general lack of style in dressing myself) I don’t see a need to know which designer is whom, what the latest style is, and what color will be in next autumn. 

Who is the designer at the house of Dior?  I don’t know.  What is the significance of the Channel Chanel 2.55 bag?  Couldn’t tell you, although Tawn has tried to educate me in these matters many, many times.

But when I watched the film, I enjoyed seeing the display of moving art worn gracefully by the deadly serious (and deadly skinny) young ladies strutting the catwalk.  Whatever happened to smiling models?  Wouldn’t people prefer to buy fashions that appear on friendly looking ladies? 

I enjoyed seeing the passion and joy of some of the people involved in the business, especially the care Coddington gives to designing each photo shoot and the passion that young designer Thakoon Panichgul, a Thai-American whom Vogue selected for a young designer award and who is featured in the movie, puts into designing a modern take on the white t-shirt.  These people love what they do and are very gifted artists.

No, the thing that disinterests me about fashion is best exemplified by one of the various subeditors or whatnot who in the movie is caught on film constantly saying a different thing to each person, complimenting the ideas of whoever is talking and then back-stabbing them when they are out of the room.  That reminds me so much of what I found in the movie industry when I lived in LA.  Petty, petty, petty rivalries, hangers-on, and people whose interest was not about the art but about their inflated sense of self-importance.

There’s a lot of that in many fields, I’m sure.  But I think fashion has to take the proverbial cake in terms of people who try and use fashion and style as a way to validate themselves and to elevate themselves over others rather than as a way to truly express themselves as individuals.


0 thoughts on “The September Issue

  1. I do enjoy looking at nice dressed people; admiring their passion and have the ability to know how to look good!  One time, a friend said, “it is an LV” and I looked blank!  lol, now you know I have a lot to learn in that department. hehe.

  2. I stay away from fashion (and I’m told it shows – haha)… I wouldn’t know one designer from another. I know. Not very girly of me, but whattayagonnado? I’m just happy when my clothes match. LOL

  3. First – Tawn has a blog?! I’m heading over. Second – the last 2 paragraphs are dead on. You have summed it up completely. You no fashion sense? Although you are not a fashion plate you do look “put together” except maybe after an excessively long bike trip but I bet even Tawn would look rumpled.@Dezinerdreams – I never even considered that you would fall into that category. I see you in the “passion and joy…and are very gifted artists.”

  4. Yesh I don’t get the no smile look on models… Could be distracting?!I really want to go the Michael Kors route and just wear jeans + black T-shirts…

  5. @yang1815 –  Or Steve Jobs – black mock turtlenecks all the time.@TheLatinObserver – Amen.@Dezinerdreams –  Val’s right; you fall into the “passion and joy” category. Will let you know if it becomes the “inflated sense of self-importance” category. =D @murisopsis –  “Put together” only to the extend that I wear roughly complementary colors…@SamsPeeps –  It seems I attract a certain readership… =D@stevew918 –  And nice looking undressed people, too, right?@CurryPuffy –  @ElusiveWords –  It was only when I read your comments that I realized I had mis-spelled “Chanel”. D’oh.

  6. well, I am with you Chris. But my daughter knows so much, and I have to constantly try hard to not insult her sense of fashion by wearing something that does not match. I am going to check Tawn’s blog now. 

  7. I personally like it when models don’t smile, and have that fierce brooding look hehe. And I’m all for my 30 dollar jeans and cheap vintage t-shirts. That’s all the fashion I need.

  8. “fashion has to take the proverbial cake in terms of people who try and use fashion and style as a way to validate themselves and to elevate themselves over others rather than as a way to truly express themselves as individuals.”I couldn’t agree with you more here.It’s sad, in a way — that instead of fashion being a result of what comes from the inside; for many people, fashion has become a thing of the outside determining (or even replacing) the inside. I believe that the choices we make subconsciously about things we understand reflect ourselves well. Music, for one, I always say is a reflection of the soul. Fashion, in a way is also a reflection of how we view ourselves. When I look at someone, I can get a general idea of the kind of person they are by the choices they make in their personal fashion. It’s unfortunate though, when I see a woman so covered in couture brand-labels that make no sense whatsoever — in my mind, it’s the equivalent of music without soul; or food that may be high quality but is mass produced with no personality.For me, fashion is a uniform. I dress very understated-ly. I like tailored, hand-cut clothing because the fabrics have good texture and quality, and the fit is unparalleled. If you just look at me, I’m not flashy at all; but if you look closely, you can see attention to detail. One thing though, that I always put my personality into, are my ties and my cufflinks and tie bars. Those, I painstakingly hand-select over the years; or I have them custom made to my specification.I’m not sure how to end this. But hey cool, Tawn has a blog. Going to go take a look 🙂

  9. @chow@ireallylikefood – I got into an interesting discussion with a younger friend who is very much a fashionista.  His position is that fashion allows people to express their individuality and that expressing individuality is an innate human desire.  My response was that, quite to the contrary, humans tend to seek group identification.  Like you point out, fashion is a uniform.  We try to find the uniform that best fits the group with which we wish to identify.@Wangium – VERY uncanny.  And they got the office arrangement down spot-on.@TheCheshireGrins – The exception being your gorgeous wedding dress, right?  =D

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