Friday, November 22, 2013


AK and I miss the days when Plum Sykes had a regular column in Vogue. She was always writing about hanging out with Gwyneth Paltrow, or what she was going to wear to some sort of semi-royal gala, or her bold decision to bob her hair, or her new discovery of the color olive. She presented everything as a charming dilemma, and I always imagined a princess standing in front of an immense closet, hands clasped perplexedly as servants scurry about.

What? Oh, just having a few friends including my bestie Gwynnie over.
Once she wrote about her chronic back pain and I was like, Oh my god, Plum Sykes has a real problem! I think she solved it with a spa treatment and an intense workout routine that enabled her to wear a fabulous backless gown to the semi-royal gala of the month.

Vogue has since replaced Plum Sykes with Elisabeth Von Thurn und Taxis, who I think is an actual princess from some Swiss-ish country. I don’t adore her as much as Plum, but her piece in the December issue, about wearing precious gems in her hair, is pretty fantastic.

A lion: the perfect accessory.
She writes about wearing hair-jewelry to various premieres and galas, naturally, and provides historical and familial context. As a child, she loved watching her mom lay out her heirloom jewels. (The Stunningly Dressed Mother And Her Mystical Beauty Rituals is a required character in any Vogue nostalgia piece. Although my mom had plenty of style, my childhood memories are of her sifting through sale racks and alternating between brands of drugstore lipstick.) Elisabeth recalls her Hungarian grandmother fleeing communism in 1951 with nothing but a few jewels tucked into her bra.

That was when I checked the byline and realized this refugee story could also be one of the wealthy fleeing a people’s revolution. I mean, I’m not saying that communism did many favors for the people of Eastern Europe, but I doubt Elisabeth Von TNT’s grandma did either, you know?

Hair jewelry, also known as A CROWN.
I’ve long accepted and embraced that Vogue is an aspirational fantasy publication, one that declares any dress under $500 a “steal” and profiles socialites as if they were truly handbag designers and not rich girls who’ve monetized the art of shopping. The editors pretend they’re writing for people who buy $100 “hostess gifts”*, and we pretend we are those people. It’s a good time.

Still, the December issue is extra, extra Let Them Eat Cake.

Besides the hair-jewelry article, there is a piece on “The Fasting Diet”—which involves not eating food—and an entire spread featuring models dressed as Dickensian street urchins. Each page includes a quote from Dickens. I don’t know which book(s) they’re from because I only read the Cliffs Notes for A Tale of Two Cities, but I do know that Dickens was trying to highlight very real social problems of his time. Does the passage of time make it inoffensive? In a hundred years, will Vogue feature a spread inspired by neglected kids in foster care or inner-city drug wars?

Wait, don’t answer that.

Don't get me wrong--I like a boyish girl in a newsie cap.


*I’m not sure I’ve ever bought a non-edible hostess gift, period. Maybe this is why I don’t get invited to more parties.


Stephanie said...

I love to hate Vogue and hate to love it. Sometimes, the photographs are gorgeous, but I often scratch my head and ask who the hell wears those clothes. I mean, I go to the theatre now (and I still dress up for it), but it appears no one else does.

Perhaps I need to adorn my hair with some jewels. The Dickens spread looks interesting...hmmmmmmm....

Cheryl said...

I love dressing up to go to the theater, even though I usually do so in dresses that cost under $50. Sometimes under $15.

You DEFINITELY need some hair jewels.