Vogue and Love

Above: The front covers of fashion magazines Love (Tenth Anniversary Issue) and Vogue (The Big Fashion Issue) both published in August 2018. Montage credit: Oscopic.

Vogue Pain

Looking through British Vogue, September 2018 (The Big Fashion Issue) and Love (Tenth Anniversary Issue), feels lacklustre (SOED: lacking in brightness, dull; lacking in vitality, force, or conviction, uninspired) when compared to getting fashion-informed online. The experience feels dated, historical--it's almost like doing archive research. And this is not really surprising because the magazine content (in both of the above magazine issues) relies heavily on page-layouts, shoot-ideas, and an overall editorial tone that has been familiar for the last thirty years or so--both books have the feel of an archive mash-up of content from the three last "golden decades" of fashion magazines, the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Of course, the content of Vogue could be good, bad or indifferent, it will not stop the magazine slowly dying--as all printer's-ink-on-paper magazines. The printed-paper fashion magazine was replaced (a few years ago now) by looking at fashion online on Instagram and YouTube. To get fashion-informed today I don't really go to a third party--certainly not one printed as a hefty book-style magazine--I just go and see what the players and the vloggers are actually putting up as new videos, as Instagram posts, and by browsing Snapchat. If I want to see what a House like, say, Gucci, is up to, I don't pore over their print adverts, or small still photos reproduced in a print magazine, I just begin by watching the latest-current fashion collection catwalk show in full HD on YT for free (my WiFi connection which gives unlimited Internet per month does cost money but it's less than the combined one-off cover-price of the two magazines mentioned above).

Fashion information much more than some other types of information must tend to be compelling to the viewer-reader. The fashionista viewer-reader who sees a great fashion look that really appeals will become somewhat devastated by the image until they have processed what they are looking at--their reaction to such an image is often literally compulsive (ODE: relating to an irresistible urge).

Compared to the immediacy and vibrancy of LED-screen-based audio-visual experiences, content seen on a printed magazine page inevitably becomes secondary and peripheral. When a fashion magazine page is viewed in relation to the exact same still-image on a computer screen, the digital image--on iPad or smartphone screen--is undeniably more alluring, fascinating and realistic.

A back-lit high-quality digital-image has more depth-and-detail; the colour range--or space or gamut--is much wider on a digital screen as compared to the offset-litho process for printing a photo-image (which is limited when it comes to dark tones and very bright colours). Images on a screen will always be more punchy and intense when compared to the same rendered as printed-tone on a thinnish paper-stock. (Remember also that the magazine image has the basic disadvantage of being rendered from a dot-screen printers-matrix which reduces quality considerably.)

Overall, it's just no competition: Vogue magazine and Love magazine as printed-paper magazines cannot hope to compete with fashion as it is now consumed. Given this transformed picture Vogue and Love are now niche titles, and this niche is actually to do with nostalgia and sentimental attachment to the old long-ago days of fashion. In some ways the end-user fashion magazine customer is comparable to the person who buys music on vinyl record rather than just streaming it. The product they buy is expensive, unnecessary, redundant, but cherished because it connects the purchaser in to a fondly remembered historical narrative.

(26 August 2018)