What’s In Vogue

German vogueI bought a German Vogue at the airport on the way back to NYC  to use up my remaining euros. It didn't matter that I couldn't read it (the imported English language magazines cost more than I had) because I can never read (or watch movies or type or sleep–flying is insufferable) while on a plane anyway. I just took a look at it now. One thing I was struck by was that beneath an article about Essie Weingarten (of Essie nail polish fame) where she's shown with gray hair, there was an for a gray-brightening rinse. I don't think I've ever seen an ad for such a product in a US fashion magazine, at least not an upscale one.

Not even in a magazine for older women like More (though nowhere does it explicitly state its demographic; instead you get "More magazine celebrates women of style and substance. We are the leading voice for the woman who lives in a state of constant possibility." Whatever) any which I just took home from the gym to scrutinize. Mariska Hargitay is on the cover (November, not the current issue) with the quote "My life began at 30 and took off at 40." The first ad after you open the flap is for Vanity Fair lingerie, showing a 1968 ad next to the modern one. Both feature three ladies in underwear; two of the women in the contemporary version are plus-sized though no attention is drawn to that fact in the copy. Diane Keaton and Andie McDowell are the models featured in the L'Oreal ads. There are ads for Botox, EstroGel,  Lee Jeans that make fun of "mom jeans" and a shitload of Campbell's soup ads throughout the entire thing.

I fess up to liking fashion spreads that don't go crazy with stilettos (eh, there are high heels too), always feature dresses with straps wide enough that you don't have to go braless, nothing cropped, and skirt lengths that wouldn't expose your ass if you bent over.  There's a whole spread (this is the abbreviated online version) about longer length skirts, duh. "Graceful lengths that flatter grownups." I think the no miniskirts after 35 rule is total bullshit and anyone who wants to flaunt their legs should wear whatever they please no matter how old; my thighs have just never been my particular best feature so all this grownup skirt business is for me.

So, there's a section on friendship and it features women like Paul Deen, Katie Couric and writers like Sandra Tsing Loh (whom I've always had as soft spot for with her older Gen X ways and I liked her essay because it was about having a friend who bought expensive shoes and would hand them down to her and this was great because they both wore "the same odd size: 9 1/2" Me too!) and um, Sloane Crosley?

It's quite a feat when a 33-year-old is so in demand that she can write for old lady magazines. It wasn't enough to pen a Thanksgiving tale for Bon Appetit, a Christmas remembrance for Vanity Fair, edit the 2011 edition of The Best Travel Writing, teach a writing class at Columbia and climb a volcano for a Kindle single (all which I stumbled upon during my normal reading routine in the past month–there are probably more).

In a way, the inclusion in More kind of makes sense because her writing is middle-aged, like a straight lady David Sedaris. I would say she's good at crafting a tidy essay (I tried to read one of her collections to be open minded and dig deep into why she's so loved and I just couldn't get past the third story) and obviously she has vast appeal so she's does everything right. But I find her voice tempered and droll, very much in control despite being whimsical on the surface, sensible like a woman with grown children into a long marriage. I would not be surprised to discover that she was raised by older parents and/or was an oldest child. There aren't a lot of young women with this voice, and maybe that is the appeal.

The style is the opposite of those confessional, damaged, self-destructive, therapy-on-paper type memoirs that often involve sex work and are also popular and that I don't identify with strongly either. 

Fictionally speaking, I just found Paula Fox's Desperate Characters in my mailbox and have no recollection of ordering it. After reading the back cover description of the 1970 book, "Otto and Sophie Bentwood live childless in a renovated Brooklyn brownstone. The complete works of Goethe line their bookshelf, their stainless-steel kitchen is newly installed, and their Mercedes is parked curbside. But after Sophie is bitten on the hand while trying to feed a half-starved neighborhood cat, a series of small and ominous disasters begin to plague their lives." I remembered yes, I read about this on some literary blog (I can't remember which one or find the recent reference) not so long ago and yes, it sounded right up my alley. But I honestly don't remember actually buying it (the receipt was from a Minnesota-based seller on Amazon). No matter, it's a good Christmas present to myself (unless someone read my mind a few weeks ago and sent it to me) since last night I finished non-fiction, Beijing Welcomes You, that was neither look-at-my-charmed-life or look-people-pay-me-for-sex in subject or tone. I tried to learn something from it, but I don't know if I did.

18 thoughts on “What’s In Vogue

  1. Jesus, my immediate thought was that it was from you. I think I’m losing my mind, though, because I’d totally forgotten that I had spoken with you about this book and I always pay attention on the phone. What if I really do have early-onset Alzheimer’s? I’ll totally make you have to take care of me; I’d probably fit right in in Eugene.

  2. Ha! Eugene is all about the altered-abled. Or as the current parlance has it, temporarily able-bodied, because we’re all likely to end up altered-abled before we die. Merry Christmas!

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