Vogue US, Steven Meisel, Camilla Nickerson, Audrey Marnay
I don't really like Steven Meisel's work, I'm not sure why, I find him quite harsh as a photographer. I prefer - have always preferred - Arthur Elgort and Bruce Weber and Tim Walker and Paolo Roversi; fashion as fantasy and a world of play. But this is one of those Steven Meisel editorials that I can get behind. Probably because the subject matter is so fantastic. Who doesn't love those models-off-duty editorials which are so deliciously staged? Who doesn't love poking around downtown New York (although I have to say, that prim and proper red suit and black courts is pretty uptown to me)? It's actually less about Steven Meisel than it is about this particular time in Vogue US's long and diverse history. The 1990s were the heyday of Vogue America, the time where the models had names - "Seventeen-year-old Audrey gets off to a good start in a cream funnel-neck sweater" - and the clothes were straight up and down and no-nonsense and circulation was on a stratospheric rise. Celebrities were beaming from the covers, Irving Penn was shooting still life and Christy, Kate and Claudia were laughing on the pages like they were getting paid $10 000 a day to do it. I still buy Vogue US now because there is the promise of this time. Here and there are glimmers of models with personalities - Kate Upton, Lara Stone - and shoots that are no-nonsense, no worries, no hard feelings. Just pretty girls having a good time and looking great as they do it.
I think that is the real beauty of American Vogue. Unlike some of the other Vogues they don't take themselves too seriously and they don't view fashion as one big progressive S&M orgy. Sometimes it is just about something fun to wear. It might not be like that right now, but if you look hard enough you can see hints of it, here and there, and the promise that it will return to the glory days of Calvin Klein and Donna Karan and film photography and grainy shots and bright young things with clear skin and big eyes prancing around New York (or paris!) like they own it. It's so much more aspirational because it's almost, almost, almost within reach (which is kind of the point, no?). I don't care what anyone says, Anna Wintour runs a bloody tight ship. I love American Vogue. I'm just not too keen on Steven Meisel...