As a long term fash mag slag, I’m perfectly aware that in our populist, multi media society that the net result of running picture of (non-celeb) models on the cover of fashion magazines is a downturn in newstand sales. Apparently the reader wants a cover star they can identify with, someone whose life speaks to them. This is why Jennifer Aniston (ubiquitous, not too pretty girl next door) covers fly off the shelf, Naomi Campbell’s (ex-drug taking, bolshie diva) always, always tank.
BUT WHAT THE FUCK IS US HARPERS PLAYING AT? IT’S A FASHION MAGAZINE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. I understand that magazines exist to provide a kind of social commentary, and that these girls are part of our society, like it or not. But when, when did Paris Hilton ever dress in any style other than hooker on street corner crossed with Barbie crossed with Olivia Newton John? Why should we be aspiring to the look & lifestyle of a girl with the fashion nous of a tween and a do-anything-for-money-even-though-I’m-an-heiress, venal, amoral, laws-don’t-apply-to-me mentality?
Let us not forget that this is the magazine which positions itself as the magazine for “the well-dressed woman and the well-dressed mind”, whose staff have included legendary fashion editors Carmel Snow, Carrie Donovan, Diana Vreeland, Anna Wintour, Liz Tilberis, art directors Fabien Baron and Alexey Brodovich, and which has commissioned photography from Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Man Ray & Richard Avedon amongst many, many other luminaries.
To it’s sister publication in England, Virginia Woolf, Rose Macaulay, and Elizabeth Bowen contributed fiction; Gertrude Stein wrote about Alice B Toklas, Vita Sackville West wrote on gardening, Seigfried Sassoon contributed poetry and Evelyn Waugh extolled the pleasures of ocean cruising. And now we have Paris Hilton & Nicole Ritchie.
I despair, I really do.