Friday, January 06, 2006

The Mystery of Vanity Fair

I have only a short blogroll, and James Wolcott's blog is on it. He writes well, he's witty, he's liberal and he loves to mock right-wingers. He did claim to be a friend of the loathsome Camille Paglia (I use loathsome for brevity's sake, in place of "misogynistic", "pretentious", "shallow", "anti-Semitic", "self-infatuated", "empty-headed", "crackpot" and "friend of Rush Limbaugh") but he only mentioned her the one time, so I forgave him, especially with all the Pajamas Media hilarity he's conveyed lately.

His most recent blog post promotes his bread and butter job at Vanity Fair magazine, but sorry, James, (Wools? Wolly? Cotty? one wonders what the wags of the Vanity Fair set have jocularly dubbed him) that's where I draw the line.

Once or more a year, I really don't keep track, The New Yorker has a "fashion" issue. Half the magazine is wasted on stupid glamor ads and even an article or two about fashion.

It seems to me that subscribing to Vanity Fair would be like getting the fashion issue of the New Yorker every month.

Vanity Fair, like the New Yorker, is part of the Condé Nast family of publications, but so is Glamour and Vogue and Bride's, Elegant Bride and Modern Bride (what, you can't be both an Elegant AND a Modern Bride? And what's with all the fucking Bride magazines anyway? Are there really enough Brides to read them all? Or is the bifurcation of brides into elegant and modern part of a clever plan to force modern, elegant brides to purchase two magazines to cover all their archetypal bases?)

You have the New Yorker for fiction, non-fiction (including some of the best political and medical reporting around) reviews, arts and culture listings and cartoons - on a weekly schedule. If you want fashion you go to your Glamour-Vogue-Bride option. Having Vanity Fair trying to cover both New Yorker territory and G-V-B3 territory is the opposite of the clever modern/elegant bride scheme. So who is Vanity Fair aimed at? Someone who is too cheap to subscribe to both the New Yorker and one or more of the fashion mags? Hardly what advertisers are looking for, is it?

I mean, how can anybody over 40 care about fashion anyway? Once you hit 40, unless you're Madonna and you work out 12 hours a day and spend whatever it takes to maintain an unnaturally youthful appearance, nobody's all that interested in looking at you, and that includes men in spite of all the "men age better" bullshit you hear. They don't age better appearance-wise, they age into wealth.

But even if you are under 40, do you really need to buy a magazine to figure out what to wear? On a monthly basis? Even if you're wealthy enough to afford to buy designer fashions?

Not only does Vanity Fair care about fashion, it indulges in - nay, sets the standard for the Best Dressed List. The Best Dressed List, like the word loathsome, encompasses so many things I hate: celebrity worship, plutocraphilia, fashion obsession, and gossip-column discourse.

THIS JUST IN: The New York Times reports today that many of the Best Dressed Lists don't even have integrity!

"Everyone has a best-dressed list now, to the point that it has become empty and meaningless," said Amy Fine Collins, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair and one of the guardians of what is generally considered the most authoritative of American best-dressed lists. It was created in the 1940's by Eleanor Lambert, the fashion publicist. The list had such prestige that those selected, women like Nan Kempner, Babe Paley, Carolina Herrera and Lynn Wyatt, referred to themselves as B.D.L.'s.

Before Ms. Lambert died in 2003, she passed it on to four editors of Vanity Fair, Ms. Collins; Aimee Bell, a senior articles editor; Reinaldo Herrera, a contributing editor; and Graydon Carter, the top editor, with the idea that the magazine would continue publishing an annual list. For two years it has done so.

But Vanity Fair's 2006 list has been put off, at least for a few months. The sending out of ballots to nearly 2,000 fashion editors and journalists, normally completed by now, has not yet begun. The reason?

"There were too many other lists," said Ms. Collins, a member of the B.D.L. Hall of Fame, a distinction given to those elected so often that their sartorial superiority goes without saying. "Six or seven years ago you wouldn't find any others, but when Ms. Lambert disappeared, it became wide-open season. It opened the door to the idea that best-dressed lists are a universally interesting journalistic undertaking."

Vanity Fair's list will return once it can regain an element of surprise, Ms. Collins said. She said she suspected the other magazines had attempted to "jump the gun on Vanity Fair." But she is having none of it. "What the others represent," she said, "are special favors to the darlings of whatever magazine is in question. Or it looks like they are doing favors or payback to P.R. people."

When our very Best Dressed Lists have become empty and meaningless we are truly slouching towards Gomorrah.

As if I needed another reason to hold Vanity Fair in low esteem (besides that they also publish war-monger turncoat Holocaust-denier-supporter - ah fuck it, loathsome Christopher Hitchens), I see that they feature that stalker Jennifer Aniston on their cover. Well, I'm sure Vanity Fair featured Aniston first, before imitation rendered it empty and meaningless (and obnoxiously ubiquitous.)

So why DOES Wolcott write for Vanity Fair? They're full up at The New Yorker? He can't really be interested in fashion can he? Cause based on the pix I've seen, he's well over 40 and ain't nobody looking at him for a hobby. Maybe fashion is some sort of genteel erotic fetish?

ANISTON! I said QUIT IT BITCH! No means no! I'm getting a court order to keep your face out of my life!