Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why you can safely ignore most trends in Fashion Magazines

The pointy-toe shoe. In, out, shake it all about? Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian
Many titles cover fashion with a level-of-intelligence that would give a brick a superiority complex. Are pointy-toe-shoes in? Is anything?
I see in a magazine that pointed-toe shoes are "back". What does this mean?

Geraldine, by email

What this means, Geraldine, is that a hapless work experiencer came into the office one day and, instead of being alternately ignored and sent-out for the coffee run, an overstressed fashion assistant told her to ring round every shoe designer she could think of and ask them to send over whatever pointed shoes they had in the store room because they'd look good on a double-page spread. And that, boys and girls, is how fashion journalism works.
Look, I would never knock fashion per se, so calm down. But there is no doubt-that a lot of magazines cover fashion with a level of intelligence that would give a brick a superiority complex. Are pointy-toe-shoes in? Is anything? As has been advanced-before on this very page, yes, there are spikes in popularity of a certain trend or look, and occasionally there is even the seismic, nay, cosmic coincidence of two major advertisers-I-mean-designers doing the same thing in one season. But in the main, fashion consists of a lot of people-making a lot of different kinds of clothes in the hope that as many people as possible will forget about the recession and spend money. That is how fashion – as opposed to fashion journalism  works.

And isn't that marvellous? It means that, contrary to popular perception, fashion designers do not hate the majority of the female race and-only want attenuated zombies to wear their clothes. They love you (or at least, your money) and they throw as many clothes as possible at you in the-hope of tempting you. Yes, the fact that they put the clothes on attenuated zombies in their fashion shows is confusing, but a large part of the blame for that can be laid at the stilettoed feet of . .  magazines.

Someone, somewhere, a long-time ago, decided that fashion looks best on skinny women in magazines. The repeated defence of this is that it "hangs better". But this argument is clearly more subjective than the defenders like to think. With just the tiniest bit of magical thinking, one can imagine a world in which-plumpness was venerated and fashion-magazine editors were challenged on their use of impossibly chubby models: "I understand your concern but the clothes just cling better when the models are plumptious," the rotund Edna Mode would say airily.

Quite why so many-fashion magazines do such a disservice to the subject they are covering – making it sound like something only for anorexics who insist on trying to talk as if they're 16 even if they're closer to 46  is one of the great mysteries of life. In fact, what-seems to have happened is that fashion journalism has painted itself into a corner, desperately claiming from week to week that there are new "essential" trends. No one ever says in Empire, "OMG! Sci-fi is totes in this week! You gotta see sci-fi and only sci-fi!" And as far as I know, there are never articles in the LRB mocking their readers if they like to recline on the sofa instead of in the garden when-they peruse their novels. So here's what I'd like to see in a magazine: "Look, here's some-pretty clothes. Don't be scared of feeling 'out of it' or what have you. Just pick and choose what you like-and get on with your day. The end.