Thursday, August 23, 2012

The September Issue Cometh...

Vogue's September issue landed with a thud in my mailbox earlier this week. I say a thud, because it is 916 pages deep. It's the biggest one ever, bigger than the last one that was 720 pages. It's Vogue's 120th birthday, so a nearly 1,000 page magazine seems fitting.

September, for any magazine, is always the biggest issue of the year. Fall is big, in general, for any big launch, fashion or otherwise. People are back from vacation, starting school, focused and more likely to spend cash. After all, the holidays are coming.

Naturally, this brings out the critics of the issue: Why is it so large? It's mostly ads, anyway. Is there even anything to read in there? (There is.)

Years ago a woman I worked with came into the newsroom after sitting through a few Fashion Week shows in Bryant Park. She had never done any fashion writing before, and someone asked her how she planned to keep track of all the different styles.

"You have to look at it as an art," she said. "You have to look for themes in styles, silhouettes and how it compares to years past. You don't necessarily have to remember the details of every single piece.

Her response stuck with me, and I think about it whenever I hear someone moaning and groaning about the frivolity of fashion and the spectacle that comes with fall. It's not about the skirt or the dress -- it's the artisticness behind it. I think it's easy to forget that designing anything -- be it clothing or art or wooden chairs -- is a creative endeavor. I once wrote a piece for The Huffington Post that suggests that fashion week matters not so much for the clothing, but the fact that being around so much creativity begets more of the same.

It's also a good starting point for looking deeper. I always encourage fashionistas to read Dana Thomas's book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster as well as Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. When one examines the industry beyond the realm of status symbols, there are some fascinating -- and sometimes inconvenient -- truths to be found.

If you've never seen The September Issue, the documentary about putting together Vogue's flagship issue, you must, Below is a clip.