Brave new world: Vogue’s first ‘real women’ issue

This week, Emily Atkinson debates whether Shulman’s unique November issue missed the mark

17th October 2016

In November’s issue, it seems that the pages of Vogue have been glossed over with a more ‘“real” filter’. Alexandra Shulman has officially presented the magazine’s readership with a ‘Model-Free Zone’, promoting ‘real women’. In her editor’s letter, she justifies this change as fundamental. Alex states that women who work in professions with no relation to the fashion world should still be able to take pleasure in how they dress. Of course this is true, however is it not fashion world’s inaccessibility that makes it so extraordinarily exciting? I think so!

I have to admit; I was intrigued when I first read ‘THE REAL ISSUE’, emblazoned with big, bold, luminous orange writing, splashed across the cover of the magazine. The beautifully elegant, but understated photograph of Emily Blunt looking natural also played a part in inviting me to purchase a copy. However, as I began my journey through the pages of this month’s Vogue, I became exhaustingly uninspired. Blunt may have attained the reputation of being ‘a relatable woman’, however I highly doubt that any of us could relate to the idea of spending three hours just to achieve the barefaced, so-called ‘real’ look, portrayed on the cover. Yes, that’s correct, three whole hours for a bare face!

“How can this concept possibly be achieved whilst Vogue is still packed full of lustrous advertisement pages showing the unattainable?”

As I continued to read, Vogue’s endeavor to present style as something that is more attainable to the ordinary person felt somewhat misleading. How can this concept possibly be achieved whilst Vogue is still packed full of lustrous advertisement pages showing the unattainable? The flawless faces of Kendall Jenner and Charlize Theron in exclusive collections still dominate the front section of the magazine, their unblemished, Photo shopped poses exuding fantasy and perfection.

When I reached the latter pages of the issue, I found some enjoyment in reading about the lives of the ‘real’ women who had been chosen for the feature. Nevertheless, I found this concept heavily contradictory. The fact that these newly selected ‘real’ women continue to wear Prada, Stella McCartney, Hermes, and other extortionately priced brands raises the question: are these designers really what the ‘real’ woman would dress in from day-to-day? I think not.

Instagram: ruthiecoops

Instagram: ruthiecoops

After all, Vogue offers an idealized world of glamour, beauty, and exclusivity; as the editor herself stated, ‘nobody knows better than me the lustre that a great model can bring to pictures’, so why take this away? For me, Vogue evokes excitement for the simple reason that it allows us to experience an elite world that not everyone can be a part of. As Alexander McQueen suggested, ‘fashion should be a form of escapism, not a form of imprisonment’, so why should we limit ourselves to the uninspiring reality? For many designers, fashion is an art form and, as model Lillie Rage claims, ‘the model is to be the blank canvas’, on which the clothing is presented. It appears that Vogue has shifted the focus from the clothing to the model, which surely defeats the point of it being a fashion magazine itself. In my opinion, ’THE REAL ISSUE’ is a one-time entity, as opposed to a big step forward in bringing in real women into the ever-evolving Fashion Industry.

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