Saturday, 6 April 2013

Inspired by: Lula, and a few thoughts on fashion magazines

I am probably "too old" to read Lula. I say that jokingly, because ageism is stupid. I do recognize, however, that the intended audience probably doesn't include working 35-year-olds. The magazine often features fragile-looking, melancholic child-women, and yes, it is sometimes a little disturbing. But I still find myself drawn to Lula's dreamy, softly shot imagery - probably because it is distinctive and different. 

I have the world of trouble finding fashion magazines in my current surroundings. The supermarkets stock only Finnish fashion mags, which aren't all bad - in fact, I quite like Trendi and Olivia. Occasionally the bigger supermarket here has British Marie Claire, which I haven't bought (I still have a bone to pick with them after they, years ago, asked to interview me for a story about women's body issues, but then drew back their request after I told them that my issue had to do with being too skinny, not too heavy - they didn't think skinny could possibly be a problem). Anyway, long story short: I currently lack the option of going to a store to pick up a fashion mag after work. I haven't been a super-active fashion magazine reader in a few years - in the US I subscribed to a couple of magazines, mostly because they were so cheap. But I like looking at fashion in print form, and I still have occasional cravings. Sometimes the online imagery just isn't quite enough.

I'm thinking about perhaps subscribing to some fashion magazines, even though it is quite expensive for where I live. I just feel deprived. I've considered Lula and The Gentlewoman (the latter of which I have never seen in print, but it sounds fascinating), and even the Aussie mag Frankie, which I hear a lot of good things about. It would be cheaper to subscribe to some American magazines, but I am completely over US Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Glamour seems too shopping-centered, and Elle seems to lack focus. I once loved Vogue Italia, but it just seems too high-fashion and artsy for me - same with Vogue Paris. It's been so long since I've read British Vogue or Elle that I have no idea if they'd be my cup of tea. So perhaps I will try to get Lula or/and The Gentlewoman shipped to my countryside neck of the woods. Any other suggestions, my dear readers, of magazines that combine smart and pretty?

Lula pictures via


Jess said...

I think I've basically given up on fashion magazines. I love seeing beautiful and imaginative photography and editorials, but I don't want to see 200 pages of ads and collages of purchasable items in between, and the articles are usually pretty (or incredibly) lame. I hadn't bought any magazines in ages but when I was waiting at an airport a couple of years back I gave Vogue UK a go and was immediately kind of offended by an article that I thought would be great: women expressing themselves through their personal style in their workplace instead of trying to blend in with non-descript, inoffensive workwear. I thought it would be professional women explaining their thoughts and feelings about the challenges women face in expressing themselves creatively through their outfits but still being taken seriously, given that there are so many barriers to women being taken as seriously and treated as professionally as men, but it ended up focusing on things like a cardiologist's shoe obsession and just didn't even bother to put together a bigger, interesting picture.

I can't say I personally recommend Frankie, although I have bought many issues in the past (since it's Australian it's available in pretty much every newsagent in Australia). It's just... really, really twee. There's a fair amount of nice imagery (a bit in the same vein as Lula but not quite as whimsical) and some of the articles are lovely and thoughtful (and Benjamin Law's articles are always hilarious as well as beautifully poignant) but a lot of it is rather ephemeral and esoteric (too much so for my personal tastes, anyway). Like, articles about someone's grandmother's crocheted lace doilies. Articles about collecting vintage salt & pepper shakers. I mean, in each issue there still might be one or two more serious articles, about people starting their own businesses despite various challenges, about people trying to fit into new cultures and societies after emigrating, etc., but they're usually pretty short, so I just find that per issue there just isn't enough to really get your teeth into. I categorically gave up on Frankie when, within the first couple of pages, it had recommended that I buy painted pet rocks that have glued-on beards from Etsy for $9 each. That is when critical twee mass was reached for me.

Anyway, I've kind of given up on there being a fashion magazine that I could really get into (theoretically, it would basically be full of New Yorker long-read articles interspersed by amazing photography and art of all sorts) and console myself by just getting my fashion images online and then trying to find magazines that I enjoy reading. I'm giving The Gentlewoman a go and it is somewhere in the mail on its way to me at the moment. But magazines that I actually do really enjoy include Cereal (food and travel themed, with gorgeous photography and styling, and I would happily buy a lifetime subscription to it if it stays as good as it currently is), Day Job (it's just that - interviews with people about their jobs, and the editorial team has somehow managed to make that utterly fascinating) and Lucky Peach (food and related issues, like sustainability of food production). Other people also love Kinfolk, which I think is an aesthetically beautiful magazine, but I find a lot of the articles a bit... I don't know, trite, I suppose. There are some good articles, but many of them I just didn't find that interesting or the prose was jarringly laboured (you can head the exertion they're putting into trying to sound like Hemingway or Kerouac or whoever it is there personally revere). But a lot of people I know who I think have great taste love Kinfolk, so my opinion might be an outlier!

Milla said...

That girl actually kind of looks like you! Ageism is rather silly, just 'cos you're not the target market doesn't mean you can't enjoy the fancy,

I actually like trendi and olivia too, though sadly not for the fashion editorials, more like the tidbit-style inspiration. Knowing a little bit about your taste, I can't really recommend anything, just 'cos I've always been more into the practical editorials, rather than fun fanciful ones, I feel like I'm illiterate when it comes to those ;)

I like Lula, but never buy it and I used to like Bust, but now it's like an alterna shopping bible for aging urban hipsters. Someone ought to start an alternative fashion mag...

Milla said...

Hey Jess, I love this comment! I just got to say about Kinfolk though, that I find it to be incredibly annoyingly "tasteful", as in it embodies a certain aesthetic moment in our times right now.

I can't exactly articulate why, but it kind of drives me up the wall, reading it. A lot of people I like and consider to have great taste love kinfolk too, and of course there's nothing wrong with it, per se, it just has this pseudo-feeling, of being really excited about things I'm really excited about too, but only if they absolutely look a certain way. It makes world to appear absolutely curated.

The Waves said...

Jess: Thanks for the long comment! I had my suspicions about Frankie being too cutesy - it's another one of those mags that I've actually never seen in print, I just see many bloggers mentioning it. Yeah, I don't think I have much interest in pet rocks from Etsy. :D

I agree that most fashion magazines have basically nothing to offer in terms of intellectual conversation about fashion. I've never come across a single fashion magazine that included actual fashion criticism, and I guess it comes down to the ad money. I get that, but it's really annoying. Not all fashion is good fashion by any stretch of the imagination, and yet I know that we'll be seeing those abdominal Saint Laurent grunge clothes praised in Vogue this coming fall. Anyway, because so many fashion magazines have such bad articles in them, I buy Vogue Paris' Collections issue every time. It's just catwalk shots (although the descriptions of each collection are a little silly). But at least it has just a handful of ads and no annoying "these are the trends to get now"-lists. I know I can see the same catwalk pics online, but there is just something about sitting down with a magazine and a cup of tea, for me at least. But you know what - I'd still like to read something interesting about fashion, but there's just nothing out there. It wouldn't even need to be super intellectual - it would help if there was just something else than "buy this now", or "look how many shoes this woman has".

I hope that you write about The Gentlewoman when your first copy arrives, and I'll look into Cereal and Kinfolk!

The Waves said...

Milla: Hey you! :) I agree about the editorials in Trendi and Olivia - they seem a little odd at times, but overall I think there's a fair bit to read in both of them. I especially like the "tyylitavis"-section in Trendi.

P.S. Kiitos ihanasta sulkakorusta - se on ihan huippu! Äh, olis ollut niin kiva tavata. No, ens kerralla sitten! Äh, mulla on ihan skitso olo kun en koskaan tiedä, vastaisinko sun kommentteihin enkuksi vai suomeksi. :D

The Waves said...

Okay, I'm laughing way too hard here. I wrote "abdominal Saint Laurent". I meant to type abominable. Yup, there's a difference. :D

anne b. said...

gosh, so many thoughts about Lula... but that's something for another time, perhaps - I just wanted to put in my 2 cents about fashion magazines that I like.

I really like Another Magazine, for both pictures and articles - and I dig their literary 'appendix' in every issue.
I also like Dazed & Confused, but some issues are a little... too Hip. I have the same problem with Pop, even though Pop can be really interesting and fresh, but maybe it's more of an artsy fashion magazine than what you're looking for. Swedish magazine Bon is always fabulous.
I love Grey, and I really love Encens. Those two are probably my favorites.
Australian Russh can be very good, dreamy yet relatable, as well - but my local shop has stopped stocking it, so I haven't read it in a while...

I have to say, I don't really count British/US Vogue and ELLE anymore when I think of magazines... nor do I think of Glamour/Instyle/whatever... it's kind of funny how much I ignore those magazines and still think of myself as a pretty big lover of fashion magazines :)

The Waves said...

Thanks anne b., for a long list of magazines to consider! I've bought Another a couple of times and I remember having liked the editorials. I haven't read D&C in a long, long time - I might have to give it a shot again. Pop I've never read, Bon I have flipped through a few times... Grey and Encens I haven't even heard of. So yay, a lot of mags to check out! I have to agree that it's tough to even label the Vogues and the Elles as fashion magazines these days. They really are just cosmetics giant-driven, trend-advertizing celebrity publications these days...

Hippocampe said...

Fashion magazines...seem they are a plenty on news stands but actually they are very few.

First, most are women's magazines : ELLE, VOGUE...very normative, they tell you how to behave like a woman.
French ones are very fond of psycho-babble on relationships with family, boyfriends...they also run pieces on society big problems : care of the elderly, education of children, charity work, you know : what women, as care takers and mothers, should know about. Editorialists profess to be die-hard feminists fighting for women's freedom. Obviously.
They feature fashion, the kind of fashion you also see on tv makeover shows : put on the right clothes and you will be loved and successful. That old sham : we've catched your dream in a bottle and all you have to do is buy it ! No other effort required on your part to live the dream ! How wonderful.

And fashion magazines (LULA, GREY, THE GENTLEWOMAN, ANOTHER, TEN, etc...) they're not as varied as I would like them to be, since the same photographers and stylists work for all magazines.
I'm partial to SELF SERVICE, the only one I buy (it's French but entirely written in English)
but I can't explain why I like this one better than the others...I share your frustration with finding no critics of fashion but I find actually impossible to put fashion into words myself. It's a language of signs and images.

Cayley said...

I thought you might like to check out Worn Fashion Journal:

I've never liked fashion mags myself so I don't know how it compares to the other 'alternatives' mentioned, but reading your post I immediately thought of it. It sounds pretty close to the kind of thing your looking for. I'm not certain if they do whimsical fashion shoots, but they do strive to have critical content about fashion for sure.

Alta said...

This is cool!