Wednesday, 2 April 2014


Whether you love her or hate her, everybody has an opinion on Anna Wintour. The same can be said of showbiz' 'golden couple du jour', KimYe - a bizarre fusion of rap's greatest megalomaniac and a reality TV 'phenomenon' with an arse apparently insured for $21 million. Therefore, it came as no surprise that Wintour's decision to feature the couple on the cover of Vogue caused debate, controversy and, unsurprisingly, outrage. A hilarious onslaught of vitriol was aired all over social media, with hastags ranging from #GODBLESSKIMYE to #FUCKVOGUE (inevitably used as the caption to an Instagram picture of the magazine in the bin), with many threatening to boycott the magazine and cancel their subscriptions. Perhaps the best reaction of all came courtesy of fashion royalty, Naomi Campbell - her refusal to comment (followed by hysterical laughter and the assurance that she can't comment as she is a 'fashion model') spoke louder than any well-rehearsed soundbite, and it seemed to confirm what everybody was thinking - that fashion is 'above' reality TV.

The most surprising element of this criticism is that it seems to focus mainly around the idea of Vogue as a fashion Bible, reserved only for the industry elite. Wintour herself has repeatedly spoken about the standards of the magazine (she famously said "to be 'in vogue' has to mean something), whereas Campbell acknowledged in her interview that landing a Vogue cover was a career-defining moment for any model. For the simple reason that it's the most-talked-about and most widely-circulated fashion magazine, it's therefore the most credible and the most authentic, right? Wrong. Ever since her debut at Vogue, Wintour has been pushing the magazine to a more commercial audience, to the extent that the first cover of 'Wintour's Vogue' featured couture Chrisian Lacroix paired with faded Guess jeans. JEANS. In Vogue?! Again, similar outraged ensued and, while Wintour was facing criticism from the more pretentious members of the industry, the sales of Vogue were beginning to rocket. There are several sides to the fashion industry - there are underground designers which drive popular subculture, there are avant-garde designers which continue to push boundaries and, then, there are commercial designers that design and market luxury garments. The same can be said of the fashion press - there are the experimental publications, there are magazines which focus on upcoming designers and then, there are the commercial behemoths. Vogue is, obviously, the latter. 

In another of the countless recent interviews dedicated to the cover, Jeremy Scott (new creative director of Italian luxury brand Moschino) gave a brilliant answer when asked if he was surprised. He replied that he saw Vogue as nothing more than a tabloid magazine, and went on to say that he hadn't seen an actual model on the cover of Vogue since he was a child. This answer was unsurprising, considering that Scott himself is another example of designers introducing pop culture to their work; his debut Moschino collection featured variations of McDonalds uniforms, and was attended by pop princess Katy Perry. Like Wintour's Kimye cover, Scott's Moschino collection was one of the most talked-about subjects of the season.

The real issue here is that the only reason anybody has a problem with this 'grotesque' 'media sideshow' is that, quite simply, Kim Kardashian has been on reality TV. To the general public, she epitomises the generation of talentless airheads that have populated our TV screens with their pointless daily routines, famous only for bouncy hair and a sex tape. The people criticising this woman are apparently completely missing the point that she has built a media empire based on (allegedly) very little talent and a very impressive backside - not the easiest thing to do. The people criticising this woman are also those that arguably show enough interest in her life to keep her shows being commissioned - it's simply ingrained in society that reality TV is synonymous with a lack of taste, lack of morals and a thirst for wealth without merit. 

Wintour obviously recognises that Kim Kardashian is more than just a halfwit with a sex tape - whether anybody likes to acknowledge it or not, Kardashian is a smart businesswoman. Somehow she has surrounded herself with the right people and the right opportunities to become a media phenomenon and one of the most important cultural icons of our generation. We might not all love her, but in years to come she will be one of the most-studied products of 'the age of reality TV' because she acknowledges the media machine surrounding her and exploits it to her full advantage. The same can be said of Kanye - their entire romance is a grossly-exaggerated depiction of marital bliss which focussed around a wedding proposal staged in a football stadium. It's deliberately ludicrous and insanely entertaining. The fact that Wintour tapped into the commercial potential of this global phenomenon is further proof that, when it comes down to sales and the features which get people talking, she knows best. Those complaining of a lack of artistic integrity should merely flip through to the section of Vogue containing masses of gorgeous editorial directed by Grace Coddington - editorial which, incidentally, costs a fuckload of money to shoot and produce. The cover of a magazine is merely a poster, a marketing tool used to grab the attention of the general public; for those in search of fashion, simply flick through the other 200 pages of Vogue which aren't dedicated to Kimye. Stop bitching about it. In the words of Karl Lagerfeld it's only clothes!

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