September Issue Mayhem - Vogue

It's August! The sun is sweltering, the streets are sticky, the subway is stinky. But also! September issues! The biggest issue of the year for fashion magazines are out, and they're slowly trickling into my mailbox. I know they've been out on the newsstand for at least a week now, but I think my mailman hates lugging more than one issue around at a time, and certainly I don't know how he expects any issue to even fit in my box. I have a feeling he's been leaving them on the ground and the people in my building have been stealing them away. I've only received Details and W, and I bought Vogue one sweaty day while waiting for the F at Jay St.-MetroTech (it was that day with the track fire at DeKalb, so I had quite some time to dive in). Let's start with Vogue's 120th anniversary issue today.

First impressions? At 916 pages, Vogue is some behemoth to be reckoned with. I've been collecting Vogue September issues since high school, and I remember only a couple of issues that even come close to this. As far as Lady Gaga on the cover goes? Not my favorite. Not even close. That honor goes to September 2004's supermodel cover, with Daria, Natalia, and Gisele on the front, with six more models from my favorite era folded behind.

As far as Lady Gaga's cover? I don't know, the Marc Jacobs dress is okay, the hair is a little silly, and the ribbon behind the title looks a little strange. I heard someone compare her to Ursula from The Little Mermaid, but that seems a little extreme. Ursula had on more eye makeup. The corresponding editorial is filled with Marc Jacobs's oversized fur Jamiroquai hats and some funky hair. Pass.

What else is in the issue? There's a dashing photo of John Isner - he really cleans up well. There were some amazing photos from old editorials, shot by everyone from Helmut Newton to Annie Leibovitz. I still remember Natalia's Alice in Wonderland shoot by Annie Leibovitz - it's from one of my favorite issues of all time. A section on supermodels from the US, Britain, Brazil, the former Soviet Union, and...all of Asia...was almost there, though a little silly and skewed and definitely felt crammed in there. Vogue keeps using that one photo they took of every Asian model in ball gowns and mohawks to point out how influential and dominant Asian models are supposedly becoming. Honestly, it's a terrible photo. Why won't they focus on their faces like they did with all of the other models from all of the other countries? They barely discern who's who. Sometimes I worry that some editors at Vogue will never be able to tell the Asian models apart, nor even care to do so. What would Vogue China's Angelica Cheung do?

There's a list of 120 of the most influential names in fashion right now. Some were pleasantly surprising, like Christopher Raeburn, but the vast majority were not. Most were the typical Vogue ilk, who tend to grace the pages of the magazine so often that this all really seemed a little repetitive. There are only so many times I can look at the Courtin-Clarins clan before I gag. They're like the curve-free, blonde versions of the Kardashians, except all they wear is Mugler and they all look a little spooky. All of their eyebrows are plucked into some bizarre, distracting shapes. The interview with Alexander Wang was inspiring and made me want to get off my ass and launch that line I've been dreaming of somewhere in the back of my mind. Now just to rewind back to high school and befriend the Traina sisters. He's just too cool, and the product is some of the best in its class.

Honestly, my favorite part of the issue is Nordstrom's Portraits of Style ad campaign. They have really stepped up their designer fashion game in terms of advertising and merchandising. It's a huge step up from last decade's Ruben Toledo illustrations, which were fantastically whimsical but gave you no impression of what John Galliano's latex and chiffon kabuki temptresses for Dior looked like. Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York both had some great ad campaigns in the issue, but Saks Fifth Avenue was notably missing. I finally found the Saks fall ad pages in W, in which the other three department stores were absent. (I'll return to the Saks ad buy later, but the less said about it, the better. Yikes.)

Up next: W!

Update: Saks did buy in Vogue's September issue, but apparently only for subscribers. My subscription issue finally came in the mail, rather late, and the Saks ad campaign was there in all its glory.