Stuffed with diver­sity... but Vogue’s still miss­ing the point

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Royal Exclusive - Liz Jones

DES­PER­ATE for a glimpse of De­cem­ber’s Vogue, the first un­der the helm of Ed­ward En­nin­ful, its first black, male, gay ed­i­tor, I kept mon­i­tor­ing the web­site. There at the top was what I thought was a sem­i­nal cover from 1971: brows non-ex­is­tent, lips sticky, a kaf­tan and a tur­ban. C’mon! Where’s the new one?

Silly me. This is the new one. It’s a homage, fea­tur­ing mixe­drace model Ad­woa Aboah: she is not only black and a fem­i­nist, she has freck­les! Hooray for diver­sity and open­ness and flaws, but just a small note of cau­tion: she’s the daugh­ter of Camilla Lowther, a fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy su­per-agent.

I won­der when real diver­sity – zero-tol­er­ance for nepo­tism – will ar­rive at this mag­a­zine. But still, it’s an ar­rest­ing im­age, given that En­nin­ful’s pre­de­ces­sor, Alex Shul­man, failed to put a black solo star on the cover be­tween 2003 and 2014.

Along­side Aboah’s gor­geous face is a list of famous names but I won­der how readers will take to just a roll call.

For a new broom, the line-up – Grace Cod­ding­ton, Glenda Jack­son, Kate Moss – seems dusty. And in­side? The theme is Bri­tish­ness (a shoot has the head­ing: Re­main. Please, stick to baubles). The ed­i­tor’s let­ter (apart from the men­tion of his OBE) is heart­felt, as he talks about be­ing the child of a seam­stress who came to the UK from Ghana with her six chil­dren.

Some of his ideas are good, too: Vic­to­ria Beck­ham is in­ter­viewed in her child­hood bed­room. Zadie Smith (I told you freck­les are in) writes about the Queen; copy bril­liant, but the illustration by Peter Blake is hor­ren­dous!

Diver­sity, diver­sity, diver­sity, on ev­ery stiff, per­fumed page. But what trou­bles me is that New Vogue’s hir­ings are still mu­si­cians in an or­ches­tra con­ducted by Louis Vuit­ton, Gucci, L’Oreal et al. They are there­fore play­ing the same old tune.

For all the talk of a whole new ethos, they are still sell­ing us the same ex­pen­sive stuff we don’t need.

There is not one word about chal­leng­ing an in­dus­try that op­presses women and chil­dren in sweat­shops, or pro­motes thin­ness. There is not one plumper beauty in the en­tire is­sue, un­less you count the roast turkey on page 157.

The New Kids On The Block are so des­per­ate to be­long – there’s a piece so puffy about PR Matthew Freud it makes me want to hurl – they have sold their souls and are ped­dling the same as­pi­ra­tions as Shul­man and her priv­i­leged lot.

And even by the stan­dards of celebrity fawn­ing, de­scrib­ing con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor Naomi Camp­bell, sent to in­ter­view London Mayor Sadiq Khan, as a ‘tire­less phi­lan­thropist’ is frankly hi­lar­i­ous. Try telling that to the un­der­lings on the re­ceiv­ing end of an air­borne mo­bile phone.

NOT ev­ery page works hard. There are still teeny cut-outs from the cat­walk and a whole page on bows. Fi­nally to beauty, which is al­ways near the back. Is that the end? No, thank the Lord. Ta da! Here at last is the fash­ion, styled by En­nin­ful him­self, if you please. The cover star is in a Nina Ricci feather coat, £3,070; Saint Lau­rent feath­ered boots, £4,715; Louis Vuit­ton lace dress, £8,400; se­quined mini, £12,855; and De Beers and Van Cleef di­a­monds that must cost more than houses.

Still, Aboah looks lovely, which I sup­pose is the point. It’s cer­tainly prefer­able to the photo else­where of a naked Asian wo­man aboard a cow, sur­rounded by blonde aris­tos.

The re­cep­tion from En­nin­ful’s beau­ti­ful friends has been or­gas­mic: ‘Fram­ing this mas­ter­piece!’ But these are just peo­ple who des­per­ately want to be in it next month.

Shul­man and I had our spats, but I al­ways re­spected the fact she seemed dis­tanced from the farce that is fash­ion. En­nin­ful is im­mersed with­out a snorkel. Ad­ver­tis­ers are clearly happy: this is­sue clocks in at 356 pages. I col­lected ev­ery Vogue from Septem­ber 1977. Will I col­lect the next 40 years’ worth? Am I se­duced?

Much as I rail against it, I still want to know what Vogue thinks I should be wear­ing, even though, like most of its readers, I can only dream of a ten-grand frock by D&G.

I sup­pose if I stop buy­ing it then I will have to ad­mit my old life – the one where I used to dress up, shop at Net A Porter, and do as the beauty pages told me – is over. For all its (new) faults, I’ll still open the mag­a­zine and bask in an­other world where ev­ery­thing is shinier.

It’s an ad­dic­tion, I sup­pose, but I still need that hit. And who knows, given time, the new ed­i­tor may have the courage to feature not just beau­ti­ful black peo­ple, but maybe the odd per­son with cel­lulite.

I can but hope…

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.