Thursday, November 19, 2009

Women’s magazine vs fashion magazine

It may not be obvious to the indifferent eye, but there is a definite difference. Women’s mags give you advice on a hell of a lot of things – singledom, wifehood, men, sex, weight loss, mothers, mothers-in-law, dinner parties, decoration, causes, quilting and breast cancer. They also tend to have an endless supply of quizzes. Fashion mags, as the name suggests, have a more single-minded agenda.

October and November issues in India are often wedding specials, but while Femina, for example, might also tell you how to be a good guest or what to serve at your sangeeth, a Harper’s Bazaar would stick to discussing optimal lehenga length, whether zardosi or crystals is more au courant, and most fashionable venues this year. And they show you fabulous examples of all the most expensive versions that you can then worry your tailor or event planner with.

The only name I can think of that effectively straddles both worlds is Marie Claire. As far as the editor’s pages of the Indian versions go, Shefalee Vasudev definitely writes the best one. In fact, one of the important things that places it far above other women’s mags is the high standards imposed on the writing. The lack of this is one of the reasons I won’t pick up a Women’s Era in a waiting room until all other sources – including trade weeklies, decades-old Reader’s Digests and financial papers – have been exhausted. But, in spite of the fact that I admire Marie Claire, I don’t often pick it up.

That’s because I’m a fashion mag person. These are specialists, and nobody is more so than Vogue. It is a pure and serious temple to one (very well-dressed, not to mention well-heeled) God, a ruthlessly catholic worship of style in all its forms, unsullied by any practical or rational considerations whatsoever. This is the only magazine I have religiously bought for years. In fact, I sometimes only know it’s a new month when there’s a different issue on the rack in the grocery store. I recently stole last October’s anniversary issue from a doctor’s waiting room; I’d missed it and it’s rankled ever since. (It’s okay, I went back the next day and substituted last month’s Marie Claire).

So I was deeply excited to hear about The September Issue, the documentary about Anna Wintour, the captain of the mothership. I scored it from my dealer today and am now settling down to watch it.

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