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I was sure I'd posted this last night...but I picked up a copy of Vogue India's first issue the day before yesterday out of sheer curiosity, just to see what it'd be like, and...it's not so bad. Annoying in places and almost completely devoid of humour, but I suppose one could have predicted that. So, for the scorecard..
1. They didn't skimp on the quality of editorial styling. The three main fashion stories I found inside were gorgeous, and except for the odd shot (like the one of Lily Cole in front of the Taj Mahal with Milind Soman- how clichéd.) that made me go eghhh, yuck, there was nothing I could nitpick over.
2. It's fat. And the silver spine is all to the cool. So much better-looking than plain old white..
3. The choice of models (and I mean models, not actresses). It's a very minor peeve that none of the three major editorials featured an Indian model, because the ones that were featured looked fantastic- Piv, Gemma Ward and Lily Cole. Though maybe I'd have preferred at least one of them to look mildly more real, it's still ok.
4. Nice illustrations inside, and a fair bit of text too. But then, for 100 bucks (a bit more than 1 £, at current exchange rates), there'd better be something.

1. The cover. There are so many peeves there, they need their own listing.
a)Is that the best Patrick Demarchelier and Lucinda Chambers could come up with? It bears little or no correlation to what the magazine looks like inside. And all that grey..boring, I say. The silver spine is great, but as far as I can see India isn't really into space age looks (re: Gemma looking more alien than ever, and the weirdly sterile colour scheme).
b) Remember how I said I was glad they hadn't done something awful like give Bollywood the front cover? I eat my words, because that's exactly what they have done. Gemma is all very well, ditto Bipasha Basu (far left) despite the occasional dodgy costume, but I REALLY must ask- Priyanka Chopra (third from the left)? This is supposed to be the world's most famous fashion magazine, and I agree it has its faults but why on earth did Ms Chambers or someone- anyone, really- not have the sense to insist that she remove those ridiculous blue/grey coloured contact lenses before being photographed (not clear in the photograph, but get the actual magazine and you'll see)? Or even pick someone who doesn't state, in the pages of the magazine, that she prefers being dressed by her stylist to being dressed by herself and her fashion rules consist of matching her shoes, bag and belt? And the woman's in her mid-twenties. I wouldn't expect Susie Bubble levels of experimentation- not least because only Susie can do that, but this is just plain cringeworthy. I'd almost have preferred Aishwarya Rai in place of her, despite the fact that they're all more or less devoid of style or, it seems, independent thought- at least the coloured lenses wouldn't have been necessary, and she'd probably have out-pouted Gemma.
c) What's with the weird, flat hair? It looks unnatural, and makes the fact of the Photoshopping even more obvious.
2. The far too obvious focus on Bollywood. Maybe this will change in subsequent issues, but firstly, Hindi movies are hardly ever an accurate representation of the country. They're not supposed to be, being escapist for the most part, but it galls me to think that this is the view served up to us and we're expected to swallow it. Secondly, if Vogue is targeting women who are smart enough to know what's in it in the first place, why do they need Bollywood, which is anything but sophisticated- especially in terms of clothing design, to do that? And if they're that intelligent indeed, I strongly doubt that Bipasha Basu or whatserface would be on the list of people whose style they'd want to copy. Surely you'd credit a grown woman with that much sense?
3. The utterly idiotic stereotype
of Indian women as eastern temptresses, presented in page after page of the mag. Or tradition-bound, newly-liberated exotics, whose best resort is the sari. I get the sari bit, but I'm just tired of it.
4. The fact that most of the really cool stock seems to have been sourced in the UK. I've heard of photographs from Vogue UK shoots not being published because they featured clothes that hadn't been stocked in the UK. Surely the same rule should apply to the India edition too? More so since it's flat-out mad to expect a magazine buyer, even one with a lot of money, to go running to London to find the clothes they used? Not that that's the exact and only objective, but I do wish they'd tried to make the effort to stick to clothes- even expensive ones- available within our borders.
I don't think it'll be worth the cash every month, but for people who like the other editions (namely US and to a degree, UK) of Vogue, it's ok. And now I shall get back to my break, and study, and maybe buy a copy of i-D when it's all over. Exams aren't fun.


Yohan said...

Interesting review! I'm with you on the misrepresentation of India by Bollywood.

But one thing the capitalists know how to do is identify their markets. Even in Bangalore, Madras and Cochin, Bollywood sells. I doubt Vogue ever marketed itself as a voice of the counterculture!

Mrs Fashion said...

I came over specifially to hear your thoughts on the launch!

One thing... grey is the colour of the season so does make a bit of sense although I would have liked to see a flash more colour on the cover (but perhaps they wanted to stay away from the Pink is the Navy blue of India type shades?!

Anonymous said...

Could you please post more pics or pages of the mag for the international readers of yr blog that can't buy the mag.

You should be working at Vogue - by the sounds of yr summary, it needs some cunty edge!

Perakath said...

Cunty edge?!?! :D :D

Floppy, what do you think of Indian Cosmo? I used to like it for all the articles on sex and, of course, the quizzes... Haven't read one in ages though.

Meg said...

I've asked my parents to pick me up a copy when they next go to India because I'm pretty interested in seeing what it's like. Thanks for posting the cover, I'm a little diappointed that they seem to have presented Indian girls as clones, they could have had a cohesive cover without making the girls so uniform. Good luck with exams (how have you got them so soon?!)

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Yohan: Vogue was much more experimental earlier, the slump in cover quality is a recent thing. I speak of the US and UK editions, of course- thank heaven Carine Roitfeld and Franca Sozzani do amazing job keeping the Paris and Italian editions on track, I mean they're not perfect but they're still great. And Bollywood may sell, but it doesn't mean it's the best image association for the mag to have.
Mrs Fashion: I knew there was a trend behind the styling, but I suppose it's not the grey that bothers me so much as the horrible picture itself. It's too flat. And there's so much you can do with grey, it's a waste of photographic film, that cover.
Anon: Cunty edge? Do clarify the point if you come back, please? I'll try getting to a scanner nearby, but that'll only happen in a few days so bear with me till then.
Perakath: Indian Cosmo sucks. The only time it was good was when it started out- but then that was because I was twelve and found the stories hilarious. Plus, they had an extract from Bridget Jones's Diary in one of the early issues. Now they're just tasteless.
Meg: I'll try put a few things up, but you won't miss much if you don't get it. Its text is much like UK Vogue, and some of the photoshoots are reminiscent of recent American Vogue- over-glossy and quite scary. But there are a couple of shots here and there that I really do like, and I do hope they'll get Tim Walker in someday.

Anonymous said...

I came back... hmmmn - what I mean by cunty edge? Well, someone whose wit is biting - on the edge? For the most part I find fashion magazines including Vogue so sedate - they refuse to say anything less than complimentary about anyone less they piss off an advertiser I suppose - I find the better fashion writing is to be found in NY newspapers - where there at least there is some semblence of independence... having said that Sarah Mower can be a bit of a bully on Style.com - while she quick to criticise younger designers for their collections, I never see her take on the big guns, somehow she always manages to find some way to justify their lacklustre collections - I guess she know which side her bread's buttered... would love those scans if you can manage...

Rollergirl said...

I'm very interested in your thoughts because I was interviewed for the editor's job at Indian Vogue. Seriously! It was a total shock and out of the blue and obviously I wasn't right for them but I'm still intrigued to see how it turned out. My mum's posting my copy from India for me.
I think it sounds like they've done a good job. From what I remember of Indian Cosmo (and Indian Elle) last time I was over there, they were both dire!

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Anon: going by what you say, I'd be the worst possible fit for Vogue. They're not exactly fans of the bluestocking, or people who like to make fun of them...and many, many apologies, but I've left my copy behind at college (I'm currently on holiday) and don't feel like forking out for another, so I'll try get scans up when I get it back, or someone else pays to get me another copy.

Rollergirl: As I said, it's not all bad, and perhaps exactly what you'd expect of Vogue's English-language editions. Their writing was never a strong point, so that's all ok.
I do wish you'd taken the job, not least because I'd like to see a blogger at it (though that might have been problematic anonymity-wise, if it meant we all got to see your name at the bottom of the editor's letter). And I'd like to know what you think of it, too.

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