It must be said that I've never been very Vogue. It doesn't matter how many times I buy Vogue or play Madonna's more accessible version of Vogue; Vogue has just never been a close relative of mine. I just don't have any Vogue blood pumping through my system. I don't own a thoroughbred race horse or for that matter, mount one to play polo at the weekends in my country estate. I can barely pronounce even the simplest of French words, aside from those I studied in art class (and boy was that a struggle) and my hair is more often than not a large uncontrollable mass of hyperactivity, following years of chlorinated pools and salt water from Sunday Nippers down at North Bondi Surf Club.
I come from a working class Australian family. And I'm proud of that. I'm not In-Vogue. And that's okay.
99.99% of you reading this aren't In-Vogue either. And how do I know this you ask? > because noone is. It's a fallacy. Smoke and mirrors. It's a social status ideology as long standing and ingrained as a ruling political power. Just read George Orwell's 1984 and you'll get the gist of what I'm saying.
Vogue has a demandingly high expectation from the public to deliver fashion-forward products, trends and articles for their very niche target audience. We've all bought and read Vogue at some point in our lives but their core and loyal readers are both critical and uncompromising. For all of these reasons and more, it came as a bit of a surprise to the world at large when Vogue's world-at-large American boss Anna Wintour made the decision to put Kim Kardashian and Kayne West on the front cover of their April edition.
My initial reaction was sadness. Here was a publication I looked up to for so long appearing to follow popular culture instead of creating it. Vogue's traditional model of using a class structure to lure an aspiring working class to 'be better' has surely now been somewhat diminished. This kind of cover can't appeal across the classes to everyone. Which brings me to my next question > who is Vogue now trying to entice? who are their readers now? Who is this cover for?
Followers of popular culture, underground artists and grimy urbanites themselves, flock to edgier, younger e-zines where downloads are available for a quick and easy fix - (which for the record, is what pop culture is all about). Then there's the blogger to compete with (which truth be told I now believe to be dying almost as quickly as it popped up). My point is this: if Vogue has always been the taste-master of culture; reflecting the lives of those most fortunate, and inspiring those who dream of a life more fortunate, then who is this cover appealing to and/or aimed at? I don't aspire to have Kimye's life. Do you?
I was lucky enough to catch the HBO documentary of 'In Vogue: The Editor's Eye' last night, which has no doubt re-sparked my interest on this 'kar-dash' moment. The documentary charted the time and extraordinary capabilities of the strong-willed women who have been at the forefront of creating both the Vogue woman and its reader. These women really are visionaries. They think beyond fashion. Fashion is merely used as the vehicle for expression and all of them have secured an identity throughout their time on the glossy publication by working with some of the world's best photographers such as Irving Penn and Steven Klein.
What was particularly interesting to me was that this 2012 documentary cuts to Anna Wintour throughout for her thoughts on each editor and her work. unsurprisingly glowing about each, there was one line she used that has stuck with me since, that could explain the Kimye cover. She stated that she wants to be consistently shocked, surprised and challenged by what's in the pages of Vogue. She wants readers to see a cover, a 12 page spread, or read an article that denotes an immediate response. Even, if that response is, and I quote 'I'm cancelling my subscription'.
I've been reading about the reactions from the fashion industry as well as the general public on this cover since its release and the love/hate ratio remains divided. My own personal opinion has changed from an initial reaction of sadness to confusion. I understand fully that Anna Wintour and team want to create, shock and give their readers the unexpected - I'm just confused about who they think they're shocking.