Friday, July 30, 2010

Back Issues: Vogue, September 2004

The oldest magazine in my arsenal lives in an old dresser. It shares space with various historical and political books from college, long forgotten DVDs that I’ve never felt the urge to search for, and many other magazines.

The September 2004 issue of Vogue must have been bought either right before, while on my trip to, or during the first week of my last year of college. It was a tri-fold cover featuring the biggest models of the time. Though my almost obsessive reading and collection of magazines was only beginning, I knew that such a sight was a rarity in general, much less on the all-important September issue. Actresses of various levels of fame, or infamy, now hold court.

Daria, Natalia, Gisele. Isabeli, Karolina, Liya. Hana, Gemma, Karen. Most of these names probably mean little to you. They meant little to me at the time.

The cover itself was enough of a reason to hold onto it.

The magazine was heralded, in large typeface, as the biggest ever. A phenomenon that had been occurring for years prior and would reach its apex in September of 2007. The ads at the front of the book seemed endless as I flipped through the pages for the first time in years. The last set of Tom Ford for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent campaigns starring Daria and Gemma respectively. Bai Ling featured prominently in a Saks Fifth Avenue advertisement as opposed to on the pages of Go Fug Yourself. Many of the ads had one or more of the women featured on the cover in them. Their appearances lay somewhere between coincidence and well thought out advertising plan.

Mostly the magazine reminds me of a time before everything shifted. I was preparing my medical school applications. I was steeling myself for one final year in a place I had grown to loathe. I was mistaking my fear about the future for excitement. And for all of that anxiety, there was no better salve then slipping into the over the top luxury of that magazine. Ten commandments for every women to live by that fall welcomed you to the fashion-heavy final fifth of the issue. Tackle chores in sequins. Wear the trousers. Bone up on the classics. Don’t leave home without your “face”. Make yours mink. Kick up your heels in a racy cocktail frock. Buy yourself your first real evening dress. Thank your lucky stars when it’s a bad-hair day. Say sayonara to strappy sandals. Ransack Grandma’s jewelry box. Some of them make me chuckle in that way that relics of the recent past sometimes do.

In the editorials, Karolina did a handstand in Alexander McQueen.

The models lounged in Theyskens-era Rochas and pre-contemporary Helmut Lang.

Everything radiated lushness.

For me, it is a touchstone. A reminder of when this all really started. Despite the other small awakenings that occurred during those collegiate years, this issue marks the most important one. The flashbulb. The genesis.

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