Does the end justify the means? How yesterday’s influencers cut it!

MORE shocking, to me, than anything made known about the Fashion profession in The Devil Wears Prada, was the revelation of a surprisingly unethical approach taken by Piaggi, the Italian trendsetter, uncovered in the V&A exhibition, Fashion-ology, sponsored by Topshop in 2006.

She had happily written press releases for Missoni, while working as a journalist for Italian Vogue in the 1980s; an activity the well-regulated Public Relations profession in Britain and America would have regarded as rather unethical, at the time.

However, with Machiavelli’s dictum, ‘the ends justify the means’ as part of the Italian psyche, and Piaggi’s flair for creation, her double life, simultaneously, as both publicist and critic will not have damaged her reputation nor astonished her flocks of fans.

Piaggi.Blow

Piaggi and the English aristocrat Isabella Blow, who died in June 2007, were the champions of hatter Philip Treacy and designer Vivienne Westwood, and Blow was an actual assistant to Anna Wintour at US Vogue. When she died Isabella Blow’s extraordinary life story appeared everywhere, in the Fashion and style press and on radio and television.

She had moved to New York in 1979 to study Ancient Chinese Art at Columbia University and a year later abandoned her studies, to move to West Texas working in Fashion with Guy Laroche. In 1981, her big break came when Bryan and Lucy Ferry introduced her to the director of US Vogue, Anna Wintour.  She was hired first as Wintour’s assistant and then to organise fashion shoots under the discerning eye of André Leon Talley, then US Vogue‘s Editor At Large, and was soon befriending the likes of Warhol and Basquiat.   In 1986, Blow returned to London to become assistant to Michael Roberts, then fashion director both of Tatler and The Sunday Times and later as Style Editor at Tatler.

In a feature length piece in New York magazine, in 2007, Issie Blow’s meeting with Anna Wintour is described:

 On Wintour’s desk, there was a biography of Vita Sackville-West. “I’ve read that three times, and it always makes me cry,” she told Wintour. “Issie,” Wintour responded with her signature sangfroid, “there’s nothing to cry about”. But they were a match. “I loved coming to the office,” Wintour says, “because I never knew what to expect. One day she’d be a maharaja, the next day a punk, and then she’d turn up as a corporate secretary in a proper little suit and gloves.”

My descriptions of these two wonderful influencers, told to Anton Storey, resulted in these remarkably sensitive and charming illustrations.

 

Vain hopes, vague waves – August is a wicked month

We love the glossies. They exist to distract us with their glamour.  It’s as if  Benetton’s, revolutionary 80s, advertising never happened for August 2012’s, UK editions, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

Subtle, conventional, uncontroversial, Louis Vuitton promotions feature liveried guard, luxury coach interior,  stern faced models in sculptural hats, vertiginous platforms, fine denier hosiery, polished leather gloves, and bejewelled, cupcake buttons, in Vogue.  The luggage company’s aspirational offering, for Vanity Fair, shows Muhammad Ali with boxing gloved, be-jeaned, glorious tiny grandson and unzipped LV holdall in luxuriant,  pooled garden.

Editorial in VF involves itself in matters of the moment.  Annie Leibovitz’s photos of Nobel Peace Prize winners create startling juxtapositions of Mikhail Gorbachev with the 14th Dalai Lama, Professors Jody Williams and Mohammad Yunus, Dr. Shirin Ebadi,  Lech Walesa, F.W. de Klerk with Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States.

Described as a ‘wayward teenager,’ the Yale alumna and the much missed, Marie Colvin, famously quoted as saying, ‘I never drink when I’m covering a war,’ is celebrated in  over 14 gripping pages, by Marie Brenner, as the world of Rachel Weisz’s scary fiction is contrasted with this real life drama of love and war.

In the revelatory economics of ‘Microsoft’s lost decade’ we discover that Google has ‘almost the same amount of cash on its books as Microsoft’ and that Steve Jobs blames Bill Gates for not putting enough emphasis on brilliant products, tending to ignore the humanities and liberal arts.  Well duh!

Latest trends in marketing are emerging through the rich West’s involvement with fabulous food provenance, sensed through the actual taste bit from the aesthetic list.  Stunning Art makes my mouth water and never more so than when devouring Fashion ads.   Gucci’s deep, dark oils across Vogue‘s double pages with spotlit glitter, glamour, glitz on belts, bags, rings and statement jewels are beguiling as Belgian chocolates.

Wondrous evocations of the Chanel legend drift across pages, one of pure white space. In a shade, dreamed from the sky at midnight, textured fine wool, with deeper contrast trim and sleeves appear on a porcelain and spun-ebony model. More genius styling from teams behind Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Prada, Armani, Burberry Prosum make up selling-copy as divine post-modern theatre.

Although it hardly matters, with all this other scrumptiousness, editorial remains a delightful, image-rich feast, too.  In this August Vogue there’s nothing more serious than the sobering thought, from editrice, Alexandra Shulman, ‘everyone loves a good diktat!’  So let’s just say, ‘Keep taking the tablets.’

http://www.hud.ac.uk/staff/fashionintheageoftheimage.php