Magazine Review: GLAMOUR Magazine Nov 2007 (I)
On the outset, Glamour Magazine reminds Ac.Stet of the city of Las Vegas.
Sure, the over-the-top facades of The Luxor, MGM, The Venetian, Treasure Island and so on, look super-grand, ultra-luxe and hyper-glam. But the illusion either stops short of its name, or at its front steps. Let Ac.Stet ask you: Have you ever seen the interiors of The Luxor, that black-glassed pyramid with a single laser that shoots from its apex into the heavens above? Looks grand on the outside, but the rooms are nasty. Or Treasure Island. Ackt.
Having said all that, Ac.Stet must say he still loves Vegas. It’s one of his favoritest cities in America.
Glamour Magazine is the same. Its name says “Glamour”, but it espouses anything but.
The ads are telling of the kind of target audience Glamour courts. You won’t find Gucci or Louis Vuitton prêt-a-porter here. But you will find Dilliards, Ann Taylor Loft, Lauren Jeans Co, . You will however, find Prada and Dolce e Gabbana here – not its apparel line – but its accessories (Prada eyewear) and beauty lines (Dolce fragrance). And speaking of cosmetics, there are tons of them here, ranging from Garnier to – for goddess’ sake, celebrity perfumes, duh.
It is glamour of the celebrities. But the ape is not the way fashionistas ape, say Stella Tennant or Kate Moss. It’s aping the way people will accord Oprah Winfrey. It’s glamour and fashion the way only the woman who buys her beauty supplies from Sally’s Beauty Supply at the strip mall would appreciate. Strictly speaking, Glamour is not really considered a fashion magazine. Sure, it’s glamour and a dose of fashion, but it is dispensed in a way so people who watch Project Runway and reads Perez Hilton (who incidentally blogs for the mag) can understand glam and fash.
You could almost say, Glamour’s really all glamour and fashion, supermarket-style.
But Ac.Stet wouldn’t.
In fact, Glamour magazine deserves a second look and a second read.
Sure, it’s goes full-frontal on Mariah Carey, one of the most massest, mass-mass, mass-consumer celebrities today.
But read the Q&A style interview with Ms. Carey by writer Ms. Carole Radziwill and you will come away with information about Ms. Carey that you may not know for a fact. For instance, it is refreshing to read that Ms. Carey’s rare ability to produce one of the highest human notes has been scientifically recorded at 3+1/2 octaves above Middle C. And it also has some funny bits:
Mariah Carey: I was a little malnourished (singing at the 1990 NBA finals), wasn’t I?
Glamour: Yes, you looked like you weighed 80 pounds. And most of it was hair.
The fact that the piece balances such serious facts with some really hilarious writing, so that the overall story does not come either as intellectually-pretentious (Guilty: Arianna Huffington in October’s Harper’s Bazaar) or meaningless fluff (read: October’s American Elle).
In fact, a part of Ac.Stet. begins to suspect that Glamour Magazine is trying to become the next JANE. After Jane shuts down in July, with its last issue in August 2007, there is a void for sensible-but-savvy women’s magazines that prods real issues that confronts real women, provide fodder for real issues that real women should think about.
With JANE gone and BUST too dyke-ish, Glamour may just be the prime candidate to combine celebrity glamour, fashion and lifestyle teacup features with econo-cultural and socio-political issues.
The signs are promising: The editor’s letter penned by Cindi Leive, is devoted to the mag’s home makeover project in New Orleans (instead of ELLE’s wondering what to wear at a BBQ fete or HARPER’s waxing lyrical about being invited to Diego Della Valle’s Italy mansion) and non-fashion features like battling cervical cancer, and exclusive interviews with Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, a daughter writing about her druglord father (5 pages, mind you).
Unfortunately, Glamour’s editors do not seem to realize that their readers may be more intelligent and sensible than wanting to know beyond sex and beauty. How else would you explain the sub-standard coverlines that do little justice to the interesting editorials inside?
Instead, the coverlines that gets printed are yawn-generating. Sample this: (… Are we still living in the 1990s?)
“Every Woman’s Guide to (Mind-blowing, Toe-Curling) Sex”
“The #1 Drug Women are taking and what it does to … sex life”.
“Mariah’s New Attitude… Britney, take notes!”
“Great hair in half the time!”
Ac.Stet says “unfortunately” because Glamour definitely has higher potential than these silly lines.
It should have devoted previous cover space to cleverer and more intriguing coverlines. On Page 227, it has an interesting interview with singer James Blunt. It’s sub-head reads: “…and how [Blunt] sold his sister on eBay.” Glamour should have used this as one of its coverlines instead.
And is there a national security reason why Jenna Bush’ debut as a published writer with a story on a Jamaican woman suffering from HIV? That would have made a compelling reason to buy the magazine if someone sees it blurbed on the cover.
If Ac.Stet has it his way, these would be the coverlines on Glamour this month:
THE HOME ISSUE
Mariah Carey’s Lamb- and Louboutin-filled Mansion!
Rachel Ray’s Hang-out Kitchen!
Rachel Zoe’s Style Studio!
& More Shocking Celeb Cribs!
NEVER MATCH, ALWAYS MIX!
& More Tricks to Transform Your Home (Page 283)
7 Unsexy Things
That Makes Sex Great (Page 249)
FALL FASHION GUIDE
30 Tips for Top to Toe
WOMEN IN POWER (Text to put in Little Bubble)
Jenna Bush’s All Grown Up
Benazir Bhutto, Exile No More
How James Blunt eBay’ed Sis
One Woman’s Story
The November issue is themed on Home, which is a more suburban, than urban, concern. Nevertheless, it gives us a chance to look into the inner sanctums of pop cultural people like Mariah Carey (her Helly Kitty collection has colonized her bathroom, oh lordy):
and Rachel Zoe (which is surprisingly b-o-r-i-n-g) and Tina Fey (her other office, for her SNL projects, which was featured in the VISA card advertisement is actually more interesting).
So was this successfully done? Not as it could have been.
But there are hits in the Home theme. The photo-editorial spread on Emmy Rossum’s redecorating project is lovely, as are the house profiles of beauty professionals Bobbi Brown and Josie Maran. This picture even looked as though it could have been taken by Vanity Fair’s Mark Seliger:
And flipping through the fashion pages of Glamour, you may be forgiven for thinking that the modeling industry has gone on strike and its magazine stylists have to hit the streets to source for models, not something even Hedi Slimane would approve everyone to do. There is this pointless spread, a waste of 6 full pages (Ac.Stet. is weeping for the fallen trees), on “5 New Sweaters, 5 New Faces … okay, Glamour, your point being?
And on Page 232, “What looks Cool Now” … well, Glamour, “cool” certainly isn’t your choice of a male model:
If you ask Ac.Stet, looking at these models chosen by Glamour, they should walk the editors’ dogs, mop the floors with Q-tips, fetch macchiatos before Ac.Stet would even let them near a rack of clothes. What kind of expressions and poses are those?
And then there are the product pages. What – in Grace Coddington’s name – are these metal rulers and tape measures doing in a page like this?
Whoever styled this page, approved of such a page layout, and photographed this god-awful page and the aforementioned pages . … should be given over to brand managers at Barneys, dressed in 14 layers of discounted clothes, let loose on the shop floors during their warehouse sale, and then ignore their pleas as hyperventilating shoppers rip the steals off their bones in their frenzy.
The last page (Page 300) on “Dos and Don’ts” is given to designer Michael Kors, who is still deciding whether he wants to be the next Calvin Klein of fashion, or the next Simon Doonan of go-to professional-gay-man whenever some lazy or resource-poor journalist wants a quote.
Together with ELLE’s Nina Garcia, Michael Kors should never be allowed to leave his design studio and go anywhere near a keyboard. Mr. Kors is prone to using the same words repeatedly, in this case, the word “too”. This is often symptomatic of bitch-writing, to actually mean anything useful. Sample how he writes:
“That’s TOO retro.”
“… You’ll end up wearing it on your jeans, TOO!”
“Don’t do matching-shade accessories – TOO Dynasty!”
“Don’t overdo … by zipping … into a TOO-tight or TOO-cleavagey number… you don’t need the dress to scream it TOO.”
In all, Glamour could reach higher ground by educating its readers of aspirations beyond celebrity-glamour and cheap-fashion tricks.
Like Ac.Stet said before, it could be the next JANE.
And methinks Conde Nast knows that too.