13 February 2009

Vogue love

We love Anna and Annie!

Lately, due to some research I have been doing, I have developed a much deeper insight into Vogue (USA, that is) and have consequently acquired a high level of respect for the magazine I once deemed too commercial. I have realised how important American Vogue is in terms of photography, history (fashion and otherwise), art, and society as a whole.

For over a hundred years, Vogue has been a chart of our times. The world's most celebrated faces, talents and personalities have appeared on its pages, and it remains a marker for the world around us in a way no comparably-aged newspaper or journal could possibly be: a world seen (to a major extent) through the eyes of women.

I am not going to enter the debate about whether it is unjust women are probably most thoroughly represented, historically, by a fashion magazine. I will say, that if you think about what women's roles have been for most of recent history, it is hardly surprising. [Waiver: I am speaking in terms of the West, which is all I know.]

Therefore, when I spotted this cover on James Tinnelly's fabulous Women Blog, my first thought was "Anna is brilliant." There has been much conjecture of late about Ms. Wintour's possible departure from Vogue and who will replace her. All I will say is that I really don't know if anyone else is up for it, especially in the current pessimistic climate. Wintour has proved her aptitude for the job time and time again, this killer cover being her most recent whammy to the naysayers.

Michelle Obama photographed by Annie Leibovitz:


Anna Wintour is the last of a generation of Vogue Editor-In-Chiefs (all women), who embodied exactly what women of their era could achieve, who made Vogue into what it stands for today. No matter how much one criticises the machine that is Vogue and, more broadly, the fashion industry, one must own that no other industry has permitted women so much power for so long (Vogue was founded in 1892). Female bosses has been Vogue's policy from the very beginning. Yet I am the first to point out the irony of this situation.

I don't want anyone to assume I'm on a 'feminist rant' (God forbid), but I wanted to emphasise how much I have grown to appreciate American Vogue, despite its commercialism (or because of it), and to understand what Vogue really means for fashion, for women and for the world.

This March 2009 cover of Michelle Obama is testament to Vogue, to Annie Leibovitz, to Michelle Obama and to Anna Wintour. Is it not a sign of our times, does it not say something for women, will it not be relevant in fifty years time, that Michelle Obama is on the cover of Vogue?

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