Vox Day, of all people, brought the regime change at British Vogue to my attention once again. Edward Enninful is purging white girls from the payroll (quelle surprise). On the one hand, it’s immensely satisfying to watch the predictable world of fashion “journalism” get shaken up in such a big way. On the other hand, I don’t have a lot of faith that British Vogue will continue to create beautiful, compelling content. Not that I’ve been reading many fashion magazines lately; I made myself stop reading them a while back because they didn’t contribute anything to my life.
But that doesn’t stop me from binging on digital fashion content every now and again. To that end, searching for a citation for my newly-updated my About page, I found myself down the rabbit hole of short fashion documentaries on YouTube. Some of the things that stand out to me in fashion documentaries never make their way online, which frustrates me. (What I’m realizing is that’s where I should act, instead of merely complaining about it.)
Anyhow, look! Enninful makes an appearance in The September Issue (a documentary about American Vogue), getting coached on assertiveness by Grace Coddington. Looks like that training paid off.
In another decision to hire a non-old non-white person to run a fashion magazine, Eva Chen became the youngest editor-in-chief of a Conde Nast publication when she was appointed to run Lucky magazine in 2013. However, Lucky didn’t last much longer (and it was kind of boring, tbh–I wanted to like it, but it always felt more like a catalog than a magazine).
Wintour brought in Chen in 2013 to bring Lucky into the digital age. Chen was young, highly visible through her social media presence, and brought an approachable cool factor to the magazine. She took a high-low approach, featuring unknown fashion bloggers in the magazine’s pages while recruiting expensive, upscale stylists like Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele and legendary photographers like Patrick Demarchelier.
That upgrade came at a cost. The pages were beautiful, but some say that the price points alienated readers who were used to more affordable clothes they could grab off the racks. The publication still slumped in circulation and newsstand sales were even worse. The turnaround flagged.
“It was too late, and she wasn’t given a chance, given a dead animal,” a source from Lucky magazine said in defense of Chen on the condition of anonymity.
Now, I really liked Chen’s work when she wrote for Teen Vogue back in the day. But it’s clear that, despite being hired on to a sinking ship, her decisions contributed to the fall of Lucky instead of turning them around. She brought the Vogue-style aspirational mindset to a magazine that most people bought for an anti-Vogue outlook. Not a winning combination.
Maybe that was all her. Maybe that was her being overly influenced by Anna Wintour, since she’s young and didn’t have Grace Coddington’s tough skin (Coddington was known for standing up to Wintour).
Maybe it’s because Chen have the savvy that Wintour does. Anna Wintour cultivates glamour in her job. Chen goes out of her way to be the “everygirl.”
Compare and contrast:
The sunglasses. Pre-selected questions that carefully cultivate her image as a patron of the arts, not merely a fashion girl. Cameos that reinforce her exalted status.
Now, Chen has somewhat of a disadvantage because this video is produced by Forbes rather than Conde Nast (which has a major stake in making Anna Wintour look good). However, Chen herself goes out of her way to try to “break the fashion industry stereotypes.” She focuses on approachability, rather than Wintour, who focuses on aspiration.
Like Eva Chen, it is interesting to note that Enninful falls on the approachable end of the fashion spectrum. We’ll see how things shake out at British Vogue.