Archive for the 'Fashion' Category

Moss (Heart): New York Honch’s Limited Engagement

My unofficial experiment with the Nov. 3 issue of New York involved lots of pain medication and 15 minutes earmarked for a flip through Adam Moss’ redux of this grotty Gotham bible.  The results?  Five minutes left over to cut the more direct transmissions from Planet Lortab and also plan my dream wedding to the new editor-in-chief.  Anyone who can make New York digestible in under 10 minutes is clearly worth keeping around.


0:00-0:15…02:15-02:50:  Barack Obama Cover and Story

New York banner is almost completely obliterated by the first portrait of Obama I’ve seen where he actually looks black.  Inside, this new “urbanization” of Obama reveals itself as “let’s just not light him.”


00:30-01:05:  Intelligencer Page

Where’s Kurt Andersen?  I actually read the Justin Ravitz item on Lindsay Lohan.  I’ll make up the time later.  Li.Lo’s no account father is slamming Li.Lo’s gal pal Samanthan Ronson, but at the end of the item dad retracts because he’s a “Christian.”  Shouldn’t he just stone them both and get it over with?  My favorite mention is the one about the father’s “noncelebrity son.”  Son’s name appears in bold anyway.


01:05-01:27:  Intelligencer Page Two

One of those cheap New York cutouts of either Sarah Palin or Tina Fey: really tired of trying to discern those two.


01:27-01:37:  Intelligencer Page Three (math+teachers=who cares?)

Weird, early Todd Haynes-styled art really slows me down.  I think the portrait of Mattel’s Ken and Barbie might portent one of the real reasons I read New York.  Maybe a cashed-crazed Hamptons wife offed her hubby?  Perhaps there’s some big deal art heist?  Maybe someone famous had plastic surgery?  Turns out to be about Lehman Bros.  Bummer.  If Li.Lo stays out of the rest of the issue, I’ll make up the time.


01:37-01:55:  Party Lines!

I’d light a cigarette if I smoked.  This page is a triumph.  Tab-collared Karl Lagerfeld looks like his head is now levitating two feet above his neck.  Patti LaBelle’s starting to look Asian.  Stay away from those red, silk kimonos, Patti and Karl, but more Party Lines!


02:50-03:40:  Second Feature in the Well

There are three Billy Elliots on Broadway.  This feature seems remarkably reminiscent of one that ran in Time Out London when there were three Billy Elliots on the West End the summer The Tube blew up.  Next!


03:40-04:10:  Third Feature in the Well (But I Think I’m Still in Thatcher’s UK)

Unwittingly stumble into New York Knicks feature, thinking, wow, one of the Billy Elliots is really hairy.


04:10-04:15:  British Airways ad Separating Features from Strategist.

Come on, I’m not the only reader who saw Billy Elliot in London.  Get on the stick, Adam.


04:15-04:30:  Best Bets

Really bad layout on hoodies.  Candy Pratts Price, where are you?


04:30-05:15:  Look Book

Hot boy in a McCain/Palin hat assuming the traditional Republican “do me” position.  I probably would.  Oh, this is that stupid fashion thing where they highlight what “real’ New Yorkers are wearing.  I’d settle for Corky Pollan at this point.


05:15-05:27:  Food

Restaurants I can’t afford unless I’m reviewing them.  Hey, I thought Gael Greene was dead?  Can’t wait to hear what Pauline Kael makes of High School Musical 3: Senior Year.


05:49-06:22:  More Winter Travel

Shotgun shooting really close to Syracuse in Milford, Penn.  Cool.


06:30- 06:46:  Art

Since when did New York snatch up Jerry Saltz for their art page?  Not bad for a former truck driver.  He’s on about some art fair in London: those British Airways adverts don’t pay for themselves.


07:37:-08:00: Approval Matrix

Woo-whoo!  Liza on Broadway.


08:00-08:41: Agenda

How is just Billy Corrigan still Smashing Pumpkins?  Sarah Silverman, take a break.


08:41-08:47: Movies

Don’t tease a good movie (Rosemary’s Baby) with a better movie (The Bad Seed).  Pauline?


08:47-08:54: Still Movies

Zidane is starred.  Now here’s a listings ed. I can live with.  I mean, if Adam’s open to that type of arrangement.


–Tony Phillips



Dude, where’s my cover story?



         Welcome to the world of man-gazines. A realm of testosterone-fueled words and images, designed to cater to every fancy of the straight guy. So you have trashy women, alcohol, men’s fashion, trashy women, sex, lifestyle, gadgets and trashy women, all under one roof. (Did I mention the trashy women?)

         There is no real difference between the international editions of GQ and GQ India – the Indian edit team has done a good job of adapting essential GQ values and style to the Indian demographic. Thus, GQ India delivers all that is expected and true to its name, does it like a gentleman. Which, literally translated, means that the women aren’t as trashy, and the only people who can afford the featured clothes and accessories are Middle Eastern oil barons and Bill Gates. For Indian Joe, the office clerk, GQ represents only aspirations.

         So there is MTV India’s newest hottie, VJ Mia, draped in a bed sheet dispensing sex advice, and there’s Charlize Theron, um, draped in a bed sheet, dispensing sex appeal. Then there is the titillating Chastity Fernandes, (a fictitious tease created to dole out sex advice from the perspective of an Indian female) draped in a sari, advocating sex in the same. There is a lot of general draping of females in gauzy material and surprise, surprise, lots of sex.

         Watches, designer underwear, rock music, and alcohol fill in the gaps, as men are taught both how to wear a suit and how not to get champagne on it. (Politics is conspicuous by its absence.) The magazine is basically a circle jerk of elitist Indian metrosexuals affirming their masculinity and fabulousness through guy talk, who’ve got together to announce their greatness to the world. In short, it’s a man magazine. And not half bad at that.

          Now, the cover has three men most Indian men want to be and three women most Indian men want to bed – a perfect setting for some stimulating conversation. Which is why you are sorely disappointed when you turn the pages excitedly to read the cover story, and all you find is five sentences wrapped around an elaborate photo shoot. Sure, there are models prancing around in the pool of a five star hotel, and men in white flashing their nipples (which can’t be too appropriate for a straight guy magazine, come to think of it.) But three quotes from three celebs maketh a cover story not. Where is the meat in the cover story, I ask the makers of GQ India. Where is the one-upmanship and light-hearted banter expected from three of the most desirable and influential Indian men? I expected more, and I feel let down. Bad man-gazine! Very bad!

          All I ask for is a better cover story the next time round (and $10,000 in cash, but that’s irrelevant here.) Also some politics, serious issues and a little depth, because even though men are many things, there is no need to portray them solely as sex-crazed, materialistic maniacs.

 —  Anuya Jakatdar 

Red, White, & Vogue


The nation is at a turning point in politics and policy, and what better time for Vogue to get in touch with its patriotic side? The magazine has consistently featured prominent men and women from politics, but the November issue had that and so much more.  Vogue provided money-saving tips for the sour economy, and dressed the whole issue in our nation’s colors.


The cover featured all-American girl Reese Witherspoon, who was placed full mast with lips painted red and ivory shoulders bare in a strapless blue silk dress. Not to mention her shining blue eyes, which invited any warm-blooded American to stop and flip through the magazine.


Vogue captured Witherspoon while doing a photo shoot in Paris for designer Nina Ricci. Her past and current co-stars sang her praises while Witherspoon sang a few, literally. 


Writer Robert Sullivan validated the actress’ singing ability and touched on her memorable performance as the legendary June Carter Cash. Her portrayal in the movie “Walk the Line” won her an Oscar, and a new level of respect in the world of cinema.


How much more American can you get, when you talk about June Carter Cash and the Man in Black?


Since patriots are far more money conscious than in years past, Vogue certainly took notice and included headlines that were rather different compared to the last few issues. One article was focused on the “wallet conscious” and the other was for someone “shopping on a budget.” And, correct me if I’m wrong, but the big, bold, red cover line “Brighten Up!” sounds as much about surviving the economic crisis as jazzing up your wardrobe.


Inside, Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour used her pre-election editor’s note to point out how the magazine has featured several political women such as future first lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Cindy McCain, and in November’s issue, Jill Biden. Wintour also reflected on a piece about Gov. Sarah Palin that ran in February, which turned out to be one of the few sources the country had on her when she was first announced as the GOP vice presidential candidate.


In this month’s FOB, Vogue informed readers where both parties took their fashion cues from.  Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain were featured a few times each in the issue because their fashion was all the chatter and each lady respectively scored big on the style watch. 


The magazine also offered an inside look into Vice President Elect Joe Biden’s family and more specifically, the women in his life that have inspired him.   


Hands down, this was one of our most historic elections ever, and Vogue was smart enough to see that even before the results were in.


Despite the current state of the economy and the nation’s struggle to cope, Vogue decided to provide a few money saving ideas and a window into the world of one of America’s sweethearts to lighten the load we bear, and spread some patriotic cheer.


God bless America and its glossies.



  Farah Pike




Radical Design

Smart, sleek, and sexy, Elle’s design makes you think you’ve been on a fabulous diet. Its professional but still cool style can appeal to readers in any age group. The book is like an avant-garde collection coming down the runway—unique and stylish.

Elle’s design has a certain sensibility that radiates a particular style, and delivers huge quantities of images and information without clutter or confusion.

The display-type font looks modern and feminine – the sans-serif equivalent of the magazine’s own chic image. Using it in almost every layout might get old, but the designers find new ways to use it each time.


The “Meet the Machers” article is in “Elle’s Power List” department, and this month it portrays great women in Hollywood. The design plays off the thin font by using long rules to break the writing into mini-columns. Each actress honored in the spread is featured in her own respectively slim column, and photos of some actresses are placed in separate columns—weaving the design together nicely.

Sticking with the slender theme, Elle uses a grid system for the fashion merchandise pages. The design would have looked like some expensive clothing had erupted up on the page, but the graphics team cleverly placed a barely-there grid behind all the fashion spreads. The intent is conscious—but the result is smartly subconscious.

Simple and clean lines can cure any graphic disaster. So now the reader won’t get dizzy trying to pick out a particular item.

But even when the grids aren’t there, they still are. Invisible, but evident, the grids line up fur items evenly so the reader doesn’t confuse furry coats from shaggy dresses.

Everything Elle—that is everything minus the ads—is done neatly and in new fashion. The reader doesn’t get lost trying to find out what hair product or eye shadow to use. Every page has a scheme and every scheme is interesting and fresh.

Risky business is what it’s all about in Elle’s design. Not scared to use up space and do something new, Elle blows up images of boots, bags, stunner shades, and bling watches. These items are sprinkled throughout six pages, making the accessories department pop out.

Elle’s design is not a race to see how much can fit on one page. It’s a puzzle, but the kind with oversized pieces so that it’s easy to put together. Everything is there for a reason, and everything just makes sense. It’s not design overkill, or underkill—it’s a job well done.

 Danya Shaikh

Lucky Readers! You’ve Been Tricked.

Wow! The November issue of Lucky presents on its cover the big star Vanessa Hudgens. This teen is one of the most promising actresses of her generation. She is now promoting the third High School Musical movie, which came out in theaters on Oct. 24. Every Hudgens fan will have the same expectations after seeing Lucky’s cover: secrets revealed, stories told – at the very least, an interview with the actress. Guess again.

For starters (and this comes as no surprise to regular Lucky readers), the cover story isn’t even a feature article. In fact, it’s only a 300-word article, the smallest of the pieces promoted on the cover.  Five pages are devoted to flattering dresses, six pages are for 30 days of outfits, and they even gave seven pages for lucky breaks. The small two pages devoted to Hudgens are just one more selection (which is what the whole magazine in only about), of clothes, accessories, and cosmetics the actress likes – a total of nine items. The story doesn’t lack all value. Fans care which products she supposedly uses and endorses. But why promote on the cover with this line: “Vanessa Hudgens: High School Musical’s star takes off”? How misleading! Furthermore, the two small pictures of the actress in the article are exactly the same as the cover.

To add insult to injury, the article doesn’t even appear on the website. The only sign of Hudgens is the cover image, used to promote a contest to win her outfit and makeup, and used on the subscription ad.

Celebrities have always been used on the covers of magazines because they sell. Unfortunately, Lucky seems to have forgotten that it also needs to give some information to its readers, and to do, at least, an interview with the actress. That $2.99 purchase price turns out not to be such a bargain if you don’t get what you paid for.

– Caroline Trudeau

Has Wintour 86-d Fembot Protégé?

Vogue’s latest Rachel Weisz cover could be subtitled “The October Revolution.” It’s notable not for what’s inside, but rather, what’s missing: the by-now ubiquitous Plum Skyes puff piece. Is Plummy no longer being groomed for Wintour’s Manolos? With rumors swirling about Sykes’ rival Aliona Doletskaya, Russian Vogue ed. in chief, in line for Wintour’s plum spot at Vogue, one wonders if our Plummy can see Russia from her house?


If you missed NYC’s tabloids for the last decade, here’s Plummy 101: Victoria “Plum” Sykes is to the manor born in London, 1969. She alights for New York in 1997, a year after sister Lucy hits Gotham as Marie Claire’s new fashion director. Anna Wintour, a fellow Brit, snatches Plummy for Vogue and the sisters hit the town with a voracity not seen since early Hilton. In fact, Plummy jokes the pair are “Paris and Nicky without the sextape.” Two milquetoast chick lit books in need of a sextape follow.


Nauseous yet, or do you like it when a Brit gets handed New York on a plate? But Gotham gives primarily so Gotham can taketh away. In addition to all this nuclear Wintour, Cold War drama stockpiling around our Plummy, there’s also her August Kate Moss cover. Linda Evangelista always maintained August was a slow month so maybe this issue lies buried in some collective Hamptons dune, but the profile opens with a portrait of the lady nibbling tea cookies. Kate eats! Moss’ publicist must have been thrilled. The piece goes on to become less a profile of Moss than a shill for a Brit retail phenomenon’s latest outpost: Manhattan Topshop.


Sykes goes on to blame Moss’ drug problem on the press. “The frenzied coverage of her failed relationship with rocker Pete Doherty, which the media promoted as a Mick Jagger-Marianne Faithful-style sex, drugs, and rock-‘n’-roll romance, put her on tabloid front pages around the world.” Okay, Plummy, the media done it. The fact that Moss took a shot at America’s Funniest Home Videos snorting the linoleum off her kitchen counters is irrelevant.


The San Francisco Chronicle, in one of those fascinating “media profiling media” Q-and-As, described then 38-year-old Sykes as “pencil-thin and three month’s pregnant.” Should we just ring up DYFUS now? The Chronicle goes onto talk about the Vogue spread on Sykes own Alexander McQueen-designed wedding gown, comparing Plummy to Truman Capote. Here’s what Sykes told The Chronicle about her workplace: “It’s the only magazine that writes about their own staff. I think they wrote about me because I had an amazing wedding dress. If I’d gone off and had a slip dress and married in Bali, I don’t think they’d have had a spread.”


Plum Sykes: a thoroughly modern woman. And boy can she spread. Good girl in the press, but unafraid to whore herself to the tabloids. At least she’s also her own pimp. And she’s still on the Vogue masthead, sandwiched between Vogue steadies Robert Sullivan and Jonathan Van Meter, but her next-in-line status is hanging by a thread. Still, that thread’s probably McQueen. And if there’s one thing socialites won’t do, it’s wait in line.


–Tony Phillips





Plummy in her Patrick Demarchelier, natch, book jacket cover shot.

Plummy in authoress mode. This is her dust jacket shot by Patrick Demarchelier, natch.

Let’s Talk Design

We all hate it, but we all buy it from time to time. It’s every female’s guilty pleasure purchase at the grocery store, along with a box of cookies and a tub of chocolate-chip cookie dough. And it’s this love-hate relationship that preserves Cosmopolitan as one of the most popular women’s magazines in the country.


What’s to hate, you might ask? Well, the design for one thing, especially in the October issue featuring Kate Hudson on the cover. As a regular reader, I did not notice previous issues with such obvious problems, but this month’s issue did not shine in all its possible splendor.

In addition to the problems I had with this issue, there was the added hassle of a misprinted mess. But printing problems aside, the quality of many pictures was just not OK. Celebrity photos were printed at a sub-par level making them look dull and not as glowy as usual. 

Flipping through the glossy, the design never really picked up. It remained pretty sub-standard—nothing superb or spectacular to catch the eye.

Some of the spreads weren’t as bad as others: “The Truth About Hooking Up” had semi-cool graphics with its typewriter theme. The title was printed in a serif American Typewriter-esq font that was splashed across the main jump spread. The font gave the article a touch of interest and ambiguity, kind of like an old-school detective story. And with a color palette of red, black, and white—the design did jump out a bit. But not that much more than others, or maybe it only popped because the others didn’t.

Other layouts were not near the level that Cosmo’s design should or could be. Some pictures didn’t have a high enough resolution, so they looked odd when juxtaposed with pictures that did. (This is not even including the celeb photos that were badly printed). There were fuzzy pictures placed next to pictures that were obviously good quality. Meaning this was not a printing problem. If one photo could have a high enough resolution, why couldn’t the others? 

Most spreads displayed the usual boring boxy look, and designs looked like they were put together as a complete afterthought. No glam or zing to be found. OK, maybe “Hollywood’s Make-out Map” was a little spicy, but the celebrity heads cut into circles and connected by thin red lines got pretty confusing.

Actually, Paul Mitchell’s “Sustainable Style” showed off a really nice design with magnified photos of hair products. The Paul Mitchell layout used a smooth sans serif typeface positioned nicely to complement the images of blow dryers and flat irons, creating sleek angles and lines. But why do I have to look to an ad for a vivid example of good design?

Overall the design was just lazy. It wasn’t really clean or crisp, and it didn’t bring anything new to the table. Glamour added 3D glasses for its text and images in this month’s issue—making its design virtually pop out at the readers. Esquire used an innovative technology to publish a flashy electronic cover in September. So, for this publication to be leading in the fashion, sex, and everything else department, it needs to step up the graphics game. The design director isn’t sitting right under the editor-in-chief on the mast head for no reason—art is a major part of Cosmopolitan, so how about a design revolution?

–Danya Shaikh