Hit and Miss

If I want a fashion-related career in the future (unlikely but always possible) I'd better shut my trap...but as we all know it's never to fun to just go along with the status quo so I'll just take my chances and stick my neck out there. This is not a final judgement of Vogue Paris  but simply just a few observations that I have noted down as I tracked the magazine's editorials since Carine Roitfeld's much publicized departure.

Via Fashion Gone Rogue
As quoted from Vogue.com of new editor-in-chief, Emmanuelle Alt's vision of Vogue Paris under her:
“I want to keep the quality, the photographers we work with—David [Sims], Mert and Marcus, Mario [Testino], and Bruce Weber. I don’t think there should be radical changes. The magazine should still be chic and sophisticated. It’s a bit like buying an apartment: Before you move in, you have all these plans of what you are going to do, but then you get there, and you realize it is better to spend time living in it, and transforming it over time. I’d like there to be more beauty trends; there was so much of that in Vogue back in the eighties. And how people are living; there are so many interesting, cool people here, and they should be in the magazine. More French girls, more French lifestyle. And I am going to keep shooting for the magazine—hopefully a story every issue. I do project myself in my pictures, even if I would never wear what I shoot. Actually, most of the time I definitely wouldn’t. I always want a relationship with reality: nothing too sexy, or provocative, or fashion victim. Even if I love to dream, I want the magazine to feature a girl who looks like she belongs in real life. We are French—we can show smoking, nudity. We have no boundaries, and it can be good to have them."

This post would have started out as a mixed rant if it had not been for this editorial, which is the best I have seen since Alt took over. The quality of Vogue Paris's editorials has been rather lackluster lately though I would like to give Alt the benefit of the doubt that some editorials may have been planned well in advance while Roitfeld still at the helm the magazine. Therefore the onus of the blame does not rest entirely on Alt's shoulders but it does confirm my fears that Alt might be an amazing, sublime stylist and fashion director but not so good as a rédacteur en chef. I have been particularly troubled at first by her statement that the magazine would be more realistic because it doesn't make much sense as Vogue Paris under the former rédacteur was always about creating the fantasy and pushing the boundaries. This was what Vogue Paris stood for–the boring realistic stuff should be relegated to Vogue US! Vogue Paris always managed to surprise, either by the idea or the execution or both. I have seen the controversial editorial little girls with grown womens' makeup and clothes (I bought the issue because Tom Ford was the guest editor) which is supposedly one of the reasons behind Roitfeld's departure. The overall outcome was beautiful even though I didn't feel quite so comfortable with it. I admired and appreciated the old Vogue Paris for its bold undertaking for stimulating the imagination and prompting visceral reactions that are no longer there when I read the new Vogue Paris. Instead, the magazine is now no longer as intriguing; former sparkle of excitement in my eye is reduced to a dull bovine glaze. I am hardly the first to raise this question (see: here, here and here on Fashionising) but I don't see much of it discussed at all in the blogosphere. I am not condemning the magazine to the point of the no return as I was truly excited (and still am) to see what Alt would do and I recognize that you do not have to be over-the-top Lady Gaga style crazy every single time to inspire and be fun. That's far from the point and it's illustrated in my choice of this simple shoot as the best editorial I've seen in the après Roitfeld days.

If anything Alt seems to be confused with her statement because this the first editorial that truly matches her new vision. I am just sad that Alt seems to be playing it safe (reeling from the backlash of over-the-top-ness that may have prompted Roitfeld's abrupt resignation?) even when that is entirely against the magazine's DNA that now the progress and evolution of the editorials is slowly grinding to a halt. I wonder if Alt refuses to go one step further and indulge in the fantasy and the spectacle, would Alt's "realistic" vision be best served elsewhere for a different magazine? Maybe this is too harsh a judgement as it's still too early to call the shots for now, but I'd hate for the magazine to lose momentum, retrograde and undo the results of Roitfeld's decade long reign. Perhaps Alt just had an unlucky string of below average editorials since she does have the talent and the potential to go very far. I'd just sit back and wait and see I suppose, though I do ardently hope that Alt doesn't make me wait for too long. If this recent editorial is any indication, Alt j'ai la foi en vous! 


Anonymous said...

Really interesting post! I don't read magazines so I don't have a strong idea of what Roitfeld v. Alt French Vogue is like, but I wonder if the difference in philosophy comes from their very different roles in the public eye. I'm not much of a streetstyle blog reader either, but I've always thought of Alt as much more into "fashionable realism" than Roitfeld. That is to say, Alt is the type of woman who seems to mix and match maybe two dozen garments every month while Roitfeld seems a lot more extravagant (though they both probably own a lot of clothes). Alt is, probably, tech savvy and more in touch with the new democratic fashion that's been sweeping the fashion community over the past couple of years thanks to blogs and streetstyle photographers. Roitfeld is, from her interviews, low tech and doesn't seem to read blogs at all.

In many ways, I think this return to realism is symbolic of the mass hangover the entire industry has been experiencing as of late: fewer frills and thrills--more simplicity and 'realness;' less fashion oligarchy and more fashion democracy. Of course, I wonder if there WILL be any difference between a fashion magazine and a fashion blog if Alt really makes fashion editorials 'everyday'--and, for that matter, if the magazine will even survive.

I'm really interested in seeing how the magazine industry manages to make fashion more relatable without becoming blogs!

kirstyb said...

great post and thanks for sharing xx

Trou, .bleuebird said...

I love how simple and chic these pieces are.