Let’s get something straight right off the bat. I’m sixty-seven years old; I have wrinkles. I don’t always love my wrinkles, but I don’t hate them enough to erase them with “tweakments,” plastic surgery, botox, or even with photoshop. And while I don’t condemn women who do, I don’t admire them either. I look for inspiration to women who age with a certain amount of acceptance and aplomb. Who are realistic about the advent of their grey hair and wrinkles, and yet soldier on. Women like Helen Mirren, like Andie MacDowell, like Emma Thompson. Women who still want to look good, who live vital, interesting lives, but who don’t mind looking like who they are, at the age they are.
So, I don’t know what I was expecting when I rushed out recently and bought the first issue of Vogue that I’ve purchased in a long, long while. The issue which would feature the return of the fab four of nineties supermodels. I loved Vogue back in the nineties. Especially the September issue. This was the fashion bible for the upcoming season. The photos always inspired me. And laid the groundwork for my fall fashion planning.
So what was I expecting with this issue? Something groundbreaking, maybe? Something interesting, maybe? An honest discussion of aging and fashion? I don’t know. Not what I got, anyway.
Not the overly-photoshopped, not very interesting, nor very inspiring photos I found when I finally sat down, poured myself a cup of tea, and leafed through the September 2023 issue. Sigh.
I’m not sure why I was disappointed, or even surprised. I guess I’d bought all the hype that heralded the return of the quartet of fifty-something, nineties super models to the cover of Vogue. Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, and Naomi Campbell, all in their fifties, all beautiful women in real life, looking unnaturally smoothed out and unreal. I wanted to shout, “What was the frigging point in that?” Forget that the clothes are boring, the fashion shoots uninspiring. Why bother to photograph beautiful fifty-something women and then photoshop them to look like beautiful thirty-something women?
Frankly, I think that Anna Wintour has lost the plot. That she can’t read the changing mood of society. And particularly the mood of women of a certain age. A demographic to which, at 73, she belongs. And who, I assume, are her readers. I mean, I don’t think the young crowd is loyal to Vogue, do you? But then again, I don’t know that for sure.
And I don’t know for sure that the mood of society IS moving in a direction that accepts women’s changing looks as a natural part of aging. Maybe it’s just me who is inspired by all those older women like Charlotte Rampling (77) in runway shows, and Helen Mirren (78) ironically sporting blue hair on the red carpet. Maybe it’s just me, and I’m simply looking for affirmation now that I’ve made the decision to let my hair go white. Perhaps it’s me that is out of touch in expecting that Vogue, long the most powerful arbiter of fashion, run by the most powerful woman in fashion, should reflect something different than the same old same old.
And of course the final results of all that photoshopping can’t be laid entirely at Wintour’s door. The shoot was a collaboration between American Vogue and British Vogue. And editor-in-chief of British Vogue Edward Enninful was the fashion director on the shoot which was touted by Wintour as “history being made.”
Ha. I am so tempted to misquote Amanda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada here, and say with a sneer… “overly photoshopped models … ground breaking.”
You know, I gave up reading Vogue quite a while ago. And now I’m giving up on them all over again. I should say, though, that I enjoyed the article by Sally Singer which accompanies the famous fashion shoot. And I wish we had Apple TV because I’d like to watch the documentary The Super Models which is due out this month and which Wintour says gave them the idea to feature Christy, Naomi, Linda, and Cindy on their September cover.
But I miss the old Vogue. I still have some of my favourite issues from years gone by. Like the September 2000 issue, above left, which, when I leafed through it this morning, had pages and pages of wonderful fashion that I still love. I well remember the advent of the tweed skirt suit in 2000. In fact, I still have the jacket to the Max Mara tweed skirt suit I bought that year. Note that the August 2006 issue on the right featured an earlier “come back” for the nineties supermodels. That issue featured a beautiful forty-one year old Linda Evangelista on the cover looking much as she does in this month’s issue. Although, I must say, the content of that 2006 issue is by far more interesting. Sigh. These days I look elsewhere for my interesting fashion content.
I had some fun this morning when I was cropping photos for this post. I played with my little retouching tool. And erased the wrinkles in my neck. Or most of them. Then I did my upper lip. Then my forehead. Jeeze. You can see how one thing leads to another with this stuff. The results are above. Original me on the left. Improved me on the right.
I wonder if retouching is like having plastic surgery, and injectables, and botox. If after too many alterations, your eye changes and the retouched version looks not good enough. So eventually you have erased all evidence of a life lived. And Barbie-ized yourself.
As someone who struggled with self-confidence in my youth, I can’t imagine what good comes from the overuse of filters and photoshopping. But that’s not a new issue. And it’s not one that I’m qualified to address.
Anyway. I am not trying to cast shade on the four supermodels who posed for Vogue. I enjoyed the little video below where they talk about the old days. They look wonderful. And not at all like in the final photos in the magazine. Which brings me back to my point. What was Vogue thinking? Or maybe they weren’t thinking at all.
So, herein ends my rant. I forked out ten bucks, plus tax for that magazine. More fool me.
I’ve been a sucker in the past for the Vogue September issues, long after I enjoyed them, in fact. This recent relapse was a throw-back to the days when the publication of the September issue heralded, as I said above, the planning of fall fashion shopping. Which I am pleased to say still happens every September, without the aid of Vogue September issues. I may be getting older but my love of fashion still burns bright. I’ll be sorting through transitional outfits soon. Pulling some pieces out of storage in order to feel as if I am dressing for fall even though the temperatures are not fall-like. Not yet, anyway.
And speaking of fall fashion and of wrinkles. I may love my wrinkles, mostly. But I am not adverse to hiding some of them behind a turtleneck when the weather calls for it. Ha.
Now, how about you, my friends? Are you getting ready for fall yet? Looking forward to jacket and turtleneck weather like me?
P.S. Please note that I do not make use of my little retouching tool as a rule. I edit my photos to crop them, and occasionally to correct lighting. I’m far too afraid I’d get addicted to pictorial “self-improvement.” And then… imagine if I ran into someone who’d seen my photo and looked aghast when they saw that in real life I was much older and far wrinklier than in my photos. Besides, my family and friends read my blog. Imagine the teasing I’d get if I capitulated to filters and retouching. So I keep it real. The me you see in my posts is just me. For better or worse. 🙂