Ilove fashion mags. Not that I buy them — I flick through them in the shop. And not that I’m gagging for their fashion-forward ‘advice’; I’m too hefty and financially constricted for things like slivers of covetable Vivienne Westwood or a Miu Miu skirt that costs gazillions. And not that there’s anything, in any one of them, ever, that reflects what I understand, believe and aspire to as really important in life.
Basically, I love them in a love-to-hate-them kind of way: the daft ‘luxury’ imagery, the regressive expressions of feminine reality, the beyond idiotic wordage. In a recent issue of Vogue, a six- page article banged on about ‘why we are still losing our hearts to the handbag’. Ha ha, I go, imagining the editors and writer screeching with laughter as they churned that one out. What next: ‘why the love of my life is a hat’; ‘why gloves make the world go round’; ‘why my best friends are boots’?
But I also think ‘boo’ for the cynical marketing that fosters the impression that it’s normal to consider paying four figures for a ‘grown-up handbag’, as they put it. Then, as I was flicking through InStyle, there was a piece in which the designer of a new € 2,000-plus Gucci bag was asked how she would style it. ‘With a doublebreasted suit or a kaftan for a more casual mood’ was the answer. ‘Bellissima!’ the writer cooed. ‘Get up the yard!’ I harrumphed. Don’t you just love it? The idea of a bag being ‘styled’ by everything else you wear, of your outfit being the accessory to your accessory? I like the notion of looking nice as much as the next person, but not to the point where I might be thinking, ‘Are my anorak and Crocs working this Lidl carrier?’ every time I go to the shops… Ah, I could bang on and on about fash-mags, with their ridiculous never-ending litany of ‘lust-have’ items, warped worldview, reactionary spin on womanhood, and pages and pages of emaciated young ladies — skinny streaks of unfeasibly tall, thin and leggy young ones; hundreds of beautiful-faced, massively made-up females, putting it up to the rest of us: ‘Why can’t I look like that?’
Funny, that reminds me of an article I read recently in which a fashion intern revealed that the atmosphere in high- end fash-mag offices is often tense and catty because ‘everyone is starving’. In one office she worked in, the editor even banned food! There’s a comic justice in
What do you have to do to win Model of the Year? Race each other in high heels? Competitive pouting, perhaps?
the pushers of unrealistic physical aspiration suffering to attain it themselves.
All that is really just a preamble to my point: and that is Cara Delevingne. ‘Who?’ you may well ask, as I did myself when I suddenly saw the name and face all over the glossies I love to loathe. Put it this way: Twiggy, Iman, Gisele, Cindy, Kate, Naomi, Claudia, Agyness: she’s the new one. She’ll be known as ‘Cara’ soon enough. Another one-name model wonder, the latest supermodel. She’s certainly a very beautiful young lady: tall, twig-thin, with a big pair of wide-spaced eyes under a couple of fierce hairy eyebrows, set in a face of such perfect symmetry, you can’t but look at her and go, ‘OMG, wow, she’s, erm, just as beautiful as all the other magazine models.’ Why, I wondered, is this one suddenly The One? Well, she won Model of the Year 2012 at the British Fashion Awards last November. Whatever do you have to do for that? Is it a kind of It’s A Knockout competition? The girleen finalists have to zip around a runway of traffic cones faster and faster, in higher and higher high heels, until there’s just one left standing? Pout hard enough that they can stick themselves by their lips to a Perspex cliff; whoever hangs on longest wins? Engage Karl Lagerfeld or Anna Wintour in conversation, resisting the automatic impulse to say, ‘Sorry, I find you very strange. Excuse me, I need to run away from you, with immediate effect’? Cara is just an ordinary 5’10’’, size-six blonde from London’s Belgravia, with a ‘Sir’ for a granddad, a former Vogue columnist granny and an aunt who’s editor of Condé Nast Traveller. She’s well connected enough. But that’ll only bring you so far. She had to rely on her own fine pair of brows to carry her that extra few photoshoots and runway shows to model superstardom. I suppose.
I don’t understand any of it, to be honest. If the editors chose absolutely any one of the models, in any of the ads or style spreads, and they said, for example, ‘Meet Sheila-Maureen von Maguire — she’s the new It-face; you heard it here first,’ and they banged on and on about it, and stuck the award for Model of the Year 2013 in her hand, you’d go, ‘Okay, Sheila-Maureen von Maguire is the new face of what beauty is.’ It could be any of the beauties, but it’s not. It’s Cara Delevingne, okay? Or is it? I’ve literally just read this on the Marie Claire blog: ‘Is Suki Waterhouse the new Cara Delevingne?’ Ah, feck it, I can’t keep up.