Friday, 13 August 2010

Do Magazines need to be more helpful? Fashion Forum Fortnight

A comment by teawithonesugarplease precipitated this post. I'm pinching the bit which is relevant, "Fashion as an industry used to be the preserve of the ultimate rich - those who could afford to pay to travel to Paris and be dressed in the seasons must have right down to hand sewn lingerie. I guess in our modern age things have moved on and consumerism is open to a bigger majority."

Ah yes it is to Paris that May Wellend from The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton goes to buy her new wifely wardrobe. In fact numerous references to Paris fashion precipitate the Countess Olenski given her perceived exotic nature. And of course once upon a time high fashion did just revolve around the Paris collections and houses.

Once upon a time the same Paris houses would helpfully recognise the disparity of wealth and provided selected patterns to buy or in the magazines. Hollywood did the same with costumes from films particularly ones worn by Joan Crawford. Hollywood costume designers also consulted with department stores to make a 'copy' of an original garment. The fashion houses of Paris went on to strike commercial deals with department stores and retailers and provided patterns and diffusion lines which weren't labelled. All of these activities helped women to get the look at a fraction of the price.

When Yves Sant Laurant launched Rive Gauche he broke with the idea of the fashion house being above the retailers on the high streets. A fashion house choose to market directly to the public and mass produce a commercial line. The rest is history. The bags, the make up, the perfume. Okay I'm given a rather simplistic potted view here but you get the gist.

But what stopped was the helpful nature of magazines. The editorial tone that helped women afford the look within their budget. Pearl of Fashions Pearls of Wisdom hilariously pointed out that more dash than cash section in UK Vogue is ridiculous given the outfits are still at the higher range with the odd cheap sock or skirt thrown in. By cheap I mean under the £50 mark. Anyway Pearl made me laugh with her biting wit on this matter and she likes a fritter in Chanel.

Of course today the designers go for high publicity ranges in H&M, Target and the like. It appears fashion blogs are filling this gap. There is lots of helpful advice, views and opinions shared amongst the blogging community. The recently organised blogging sale is a wonderful example of this and I might add I bought a mighty fine dress off Mrs Bossa, which I'm in the midst of mending and altering.

From a historical perspective I do wish magazines would become friends that are supportive rather than friends that are superior. Do you feel the same?


  1. Yes love the dress!
    I also get annoyed that sometimes they feature items within a feature that are not current, so you cannot buy them. A few times I have liked something only to be unable to purchase.
    As always a great post xx

  2. I totally agree. Magazines seem to forget that the majority of their readership are not in the habbit of dropping £2,000 on a garment. I also think there is more need to adapt current trends for different age groups, I am fed up seeing
    50+ women wearing (trying!)the same clothes as their 20 something daughters!! e xx

  3. Hi my dear-another thought provoking post, I suppose the likes of Vogue, Tatler and Bazaar are always going to be 'friends who are superior'-maybe thats why we have mags such as Look, which appeal to the masses who have the budget to match what they show. I personally like all the magazines I've just mentioned. Love your dress too!

  4. I think you've pretty much hit the nail on the head as to why I don't buy fashion magazines. I don't want friends who are superior.

    General tone seems to have changed doesn't it? Even the mags that show proper high street style and affordable things don't seem to come from a particularly supportive or friendly perspective.

  5. Well I guess you already know what I think LOL! But I wouldnt want Vouge to start filling its pages with Topshop, I love tto see the insanely priced stuff I just find it insulting with the Dash/ Cash section, I dont see why they bother! There are plenty of highstreet fashion mags such as Look so if you want to see fashion to suit your budget you can pick up a differnt mag. Vogue is a bit pretentious but thats why I like it. I really am not interested in seeing pages of high street buys, I can see that myself, I want to see the luxury and if I want something I am happy to save up for it, I dont feel insupirior becasue I cant afford everything on the pages. Highstreet is great but it isnt exciting, it isnt the most intricately beautiful thing you will ever see, there is no craftsmanship, I like to stick my head in a mag and disappear into a fantasty land, I dont want to read Look and see what I can pick up that week in Primark i can do that myself, its practical but not exciting.

  6. Nice dress! I'll be very impressed if you pull off this beehive!

    As for Pearl says, the high street-oriented magazines are practical - and I really liked the Company High Street Edit - but I do feel (and think I said so on one of your recent posts) that magazines like Vogue compliment this; I love to have that element of aspiration. Reading both has made me aware that a) some designer togs really are worth investing in, and b) the high street does an exceptional job of providing for those people who can't afford designer but want to dabble in certain trends.

  7. First off can I just say what a gorgeous dress you have there? I love it!
    The last fashion magazine I bought was a 1936 issue of the Tatler from a car boot sale. I used to enjoy flicking through the high end mags but they're just so full of adverts I'd rather spend the £5 cover price on a vintage frock. xxx

  8. I hate to say it, but I think a little Trinny + Susannah / Gok type advice wouldn't go astray. I don't mind seeing pictures of expensive clothes - to me a magazine is not a catalogue, it is an inspiration. However often the images are so 'arty' that you can't really see the clothes, or how they have been put together, or determine what goes with what, and what styles suit certain body shapes. I really want to see mroe IDEAS, not this constant barrage of BUY BUY BUY (which the cheaper magazines are just as guilty of).

  9. Yes, I do agree. It can be difficult to find resources to look to, particularly for upcoming trends. We can consult photos from the runway, or collections from our favorite designers, but a solid spread from a magazine is really the best.

    I do feel that magazines have become less like an advocate, and more of an authority of something totally unattainable.

    Great topic, and thanks to the commenter who began it.

  10. That dress is gorgeous!

    Other than picking up the occasional Vogue, I'm finding that (capital-F)fashion magazines have less and less relevance for me. Being short and round, I've never been able to wear much of what's shown, even aside from some of the insane prices. And much of Fashion doesn't fit my life, even if it fit my body and wallet. Reading fashion magazines is more like a glimpse into an often beatiful and strange alien culture.

    InStyle and Lucky don't do the high-concept editorial layouts, but I think are much more helpful as far as giving a preview to what clothes/shoes/accessories will be available within a range of prices.

  11. What I find particularly grating is the six month cycle of plugging particular trends and looks and then the 180 degree about face towards the end of a season suddenly haughtily criticising those same trends as now so last month.

    Not everyone can or wants to throw out their wardrobe and start again each season. Not everyone buys clothes thinking they only want to wear them during that season and then never again.

    It was funny how during the recession the tone of magazines changed considerably to talk about investment and "keep forever" pieces (which they later turned around and bagged anyway) but that didn't seem to last very long.

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