When you’ve lived on one Canadian river or another almost all your life, like I have, the term “spring break-up” has very specific connotations. And if you’ve lived along the Saint John River in New Brunswick, where I grew up, ice and flooding are always part of the spring break-up equation. Like in this photo from 2014 taken when I was home in New Brunswick visiting my mum during the spring floods. This image brings back memories, and not just of that trip in 2014. But I wrote a post about all that back then. You can read it here
if you’re interested.
|Spring break-up on the Saint John, 2014
Today though, I’m not thinking of “break-up” in terms of the ice melting, or the river rising, or the roads being submerged. I’m thinking of break-up in terms of the split that sometimes happens when you grow apart from a loved one. A loved one upon whom you have depended for years. And who has given you great joy. And now, well, now there just isn’t that spark when you see each other again for the first time after a whole month. It seems as if you aren’t meeting each other’s needs anymore. And you begin to feel that maybe it’s time you moved on, took a break from each other. A trial separation, maybe. Or maybe you should just split up altogether.
Sigh. That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately about my longtime relationship with my favourite fashion magazine. I love Vogue. Or at least I always have. Until recently. Recently I’ve been noticing that Vogue isn’t meeting my needs anymore.
You see, I buy a fashion magazine for fashion inspiration. I want to see wearable clothes, that are current, in combinations that give me ideas for my own wardrobe. I don’t expect to be able to wear the clothes exactly as they are styled in the fashion shoots, but I want to be able to apply at least some of the ideas to myself.
|I could totally wear something like this outfit from an Elie Tahari advertisement.
And I want to be inspired by beautiful creative photos. I understand that many fashion stories are pure fantasy, conveying more of a concept than a recipe for how to dress. And I love those stories as much as I do the more literal ones.
But lately, I feel that Vogue has been letting me down on both fronts. I realized this the other day when I was pedaling my exercise bike and leafing through the March issue of Vogue. The March issue is almost as important for ‘wish list planning’ as the September issue. I expect it to give me the temperature or the flavour of the season, so to speak. I want to see curated collections of what is new, current, hot. I want ideas of what goes with what, and how I might update my current wardrobe. I want to come away with a feel for the season. And I want to be bowled over with creative, beautiful photos.
But as I pedaled the other day, I closed my magazine, and thought… meh. Not inspired. At least not by anything that wasn’t an advertisement. I had torn out several photos for my inspiration board and every single one of them was an ad. Now, I would expect the work of the team of editors, stylists, and photographers at Vogue to be at least as creative as the advertising created by fashion houses like Valentino or Elie Tahari or Armani. Come on… this is Vogue we’re talking about.
The gorgeous images above, shot in Kenya by National Geographic photographer Steven McCurry for the Valentino Spring 2016 campaign, have drawn criticism for their ostensible “cultural appropriation.” If you’re interested, you can read about the backlash the campaign has received, and replies to the criticism from both the photographer and company creative directors in a Huffpost Style
. But political and cultural issues aside, one can’t deny that the shots, taken in Amboseli National Park which feature models along with local Maasai people, are beautiful. And evocative. And so still. The models in many of the photographs, looking beyond the camera into the distance. I might never wear these clothes, but just looking at these photos made me smile.
And the rest of the March issue of Vogue? Not so much. Even shoots styled by some of my favourite creative types like Grace Coddington and Tonne Goodman left me a bit cold. I didn’t see anything new, or stunning, or even remotely inspirational. Aside from the ads, as I’ve said.
But you know, the rift between me and Vogue
has been widening for a while now. Ever since the Kim Kardashian and Kanye West cover in 2014. Now that was disappointing. A few months ago I signed up to receive Vogue Runway and Vogue.com via e-mail. “It’s free, why not?” I thought. First I was overwhelmed by the twice a day e-mails, and annoyed at the over-the-top, hyperbolic, frequently idiotic headlines. But when I was exhorted to spring clean like Kim Kardashian
…. now that was too much. Turns out her “spring cleaning” consisted of enumerating how many piles of outfits she was going to sell off. At least the money was for charity. But still, Vogue.com you are history. I clicked the “unsubscribe” button. Phew. That felt better. So, now I’m thinking of pulling the plug on the magazine as well. Clearly we’ve been growing apart. And the March spring fashion issue disappointment just reinforced that.
And then came the last straw. Yesterday, I was pedaling my exercise bike, again. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, since there’s not enough snow for skiing, and too much snow and freezing rain for walking. So as I pedaled, I watched on YouTube the entire HBO 2012 documentary The Editors’ Eye, made in conjunction with Vogue’s 120th anniversary. I loved it. And it reminded me why I have always loved Vogue. Until now.
Now, I feel as if something is missing. In the HBO documentary, Anna Wintour talks about the courage of the magazine in taking risks, in forging new ground in fashion journalism. But I don’t think featuring Kardashian covers, and articles of that ilk takes courage. That smacks of capitulation to me. Still, maybe it’s me that’s changing. I’m not twenty anymore, but instead creeping up on sixty. Maybe Vogue is simply targeting a younger demographic than they have been for the past few years. Whatever it is, I just know that I’m not finding what I want in a fashion magazine, anymore. And if Ms. Wintour can’t see that, then maybe she just doesn’t care that much about me, or readers like me any longer. If so, she and Vogue probably won’t miss me. When we finally split.
I won’t say that we’ll never get back together, Vogue and me. Just that we need some time apart. I’ll be sad, of course. But then again … there’s always Harper’s Bazaar. And more fashion blogs ‘than you can shake a stick at,’ as my mum always says. Guess I’ll definitely be playing the field for a while.
|Spring or whatever, on the Rideau.
And speaking of time apart. The shot above was taken the morning before last. This was the scene on the river when we awoke. That’s snow, people! So, Hubby and I are taking some time apart from winter, or spring, or whatever the heck you call this crazy season. We’re heading south for a couple of weeks. I can’t wait.
Now… what are you up to these days, dear readers? How’s spring out your way? Are you already hauling out the sandals? Or are you like us and believe that spring has decided to take a pass this year? Your thoughts on spring break-ups, spring, fashion fixes or any of the above are always most welcome here.