I am so unplugged from space and time right now that a) when a friend told me she was making plans for Christmas, I thought, “Oh, that’s two months away,” even though we just put up our tree on Sunday; and b) it only just clicked TODAY that we’re at the end of a decade. Vogue stepped into its 2020 slate with four covers that were all about babies, I Believe The Children Are Our Future, and pledging allegiance to the planet. This came with a solemn statement on Instagram that felt ripped from the Team Sussex strategy of selective capitalization:
Can we pause for a punctuation question? If you’re going to put a semi-colon after list item #1 in the first sentence, shouldn’t there be one after list item #2 as well? That is how I always learned it. Also, the space around the hyphen in “thought-provoking” is driving me batty (this must be fully justified rather than simply centered?). The second paragraph seems to be missing a space after “CULTURES.” And obviously I’d put an Oxford comma in that last sentence. The end.
Okay: It will be interesting to see if this is just pretty words from the fashion Bible of record, or whether U.S. Vogue – the Mothership — puts its money where its mouth is and reaches deeper for its cover subjects, and doesn’t, for example, only feature a non-sample-size model like Ashley Graham when she is with child. Whether it can truly celebrate body diversity, non-binary humans, and artistry that isn’t just putting Nicole Kidman in a field looking troubled. Cross your fingers.
The cover quartet here is Ashley Graham, Cardi B, Greta Gerwig, and Stella McCartney. (If you’re curious about cover-story tropes, we learn Ashley Graham, her husband, and the author all ate full English breakfasts, and it’s noted that Greta Gerwig devoured a steak.) The idea is that they’re all being dubbed as a wave of the future — in size-agnostic modeling success, in music and filmmaking, and in conservationism. The Ashley Graham feature is exactly like whatever the last one was that I read, meaning, it paints a picture of a person who is friendly and confident and deeply uninhibited, in a way that would both be fun to be around, but also for me personally might become a little exhausting. But what got me is this weird mistake:
One day in 2005, when Graham was still working in relative obscurity as a “plus size” catalog model, she was running the elevator as a volunteer at The Journey, a nondenominational church in Manhattan she attended. A newcomer got on. “Hi. Welcome to the Journey,” she purred. It was Ervin, who was so enchanted that he skipped Sunday service and rode up and down with her all morning. A couple of days later, “in an uncreepy way,” she says, he found Graham on Facebook.
From what I can tell, Facebook was deep into its nascent stage in 2005, to the point where nobody could just casually happen to find the exact person they wanted to on there at the exact moment they wanted to do it. (I hadn’t even really heard of it until late 2007, maybe early 2008.) Also, if they dated a year and then married when Ashley was 22, that means — per her Wikipedia birth date — then they got married in 2009, which is… not a year removed from 2005. I wonder if the author wrote “2008” and then couldn’t read the 8 later. A strange thing on which to fixate, but it jumped out at me.
Greta’s is mostly about Little Women, and some bits and bobs about her working and romantic relationship with her partner Noah Baumbach. It’s a cozy piece, but I eyerolled one part of this:
“In general, it was an exciting year,” Baumbach says. “I’d show her a cut of my movie, and then a few months later, I’m watching her movie. I don’t want to sound sickeningly happy, but it’s a truly great thing to watch someone you love make something and love the thing they make. I don’t know how else to say it without saying great a lot.”
Why don’t you want to sound “sickeningly happy,” dude? Is it bad for your brand?
Cardi’s is FULL of quotes. She seems like a chatty person. She rails against Trump, talks about why she’s pro-Bernie, and discusses her prior job as a stripper:
It did not take long for Cardi to be recognized for advancing an inclusive feminism that acknowledges the difficult decisions that women not born into privilege must weigh. “Women always want to talk about feminism and supporting everybody,” she says, “except if it doesn’t fit your category of what to support. Certain women that claim they are feminists only think that a certain type of woman should represent that. Like oh, you have to have a college degree, and you have to fucking be, practically, like, a senator or Mother Teresa or a Christian holy woman. No, you do not. Feminism means being equal to a man. And I am.”
It’s an all-over-the-place interview, and it also included this:
“Music is changing. I feel like people just wanna hear twerk-twerk music, but it’s like, is that just a phase? I probably need a sexy song. I need a lot of turn-up songs. I need a slow song, a personal song. And those are harder for me—I always need help when it comes to talking about my feelings. It’s hard for me to be soft, period. So it’s a lot of thoughts, a lot of pressure. It’s really like a job.”
It is in fact VERY MUCH a job, kiddo.
I have rolled my eyes at Stella McCartney’s clothes a lot over the years, but she spoke out early and often about animal cruelty and the use of real fur, and she’s been trying to walk the eco-conscious sustainability walk for a really long time — longer than it’s been fashionable, if you’ll pardon the wordplay. Her profile makes the point that she’s been howling into the wind about this for years, and finally, the winds are changing and carrying her voice around the industry and its partners — but only to a point. This anecdote involves Bernard Arnault of LVMH, a recent investor in Stella’s company:
“[F]our days before presenting her spring-summer 2020 show in Paris (“our most sustainable collection ever”), Arnault, addressing an LVMH sustainability event in Paris, called out 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg for “indulging in an absolute catastrophism about the evolution of the world” in her electrifying appearance at the United Nations summit on climate change. “I find it demoralizing,” he added. It was perhaps no accident that McCartney raced to put together a sustainability panel (no questions, no photographs) of her own on the eve of her show at the Opéra Garnier—a panel that included Extinction Rebellion activist Clare Farrell, the legendary environmentalist and activist Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and author Dana Thomas (Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes), who noted that “we wear our clothes seven times on average before throwing them away . . . we’re perpetuating this bulimia of buying, using, and throwing away.”
While she was at Kering [the investor prior to LVMH, from whom she eventually bought back the company], the company developed an environmental profit-and-loss tool that assigned a monetary value to environmental impact—something that led to McCartney’s decision (to give just one example) to stop the use of virgin cashmere, a material with 100 times the environmental impact of wool. […] Her label now uses regenerated cashmere, made from factory scraps that are shredded and respun into new yarn, and focuses on alpaca (“a much more friendly material”) and traceable wool (four sweaters from one sheep).
McCartney also holds an annual forum for all of her suppliers to talk with them about what her company requires and to share information on recent advances. “A lot of people see change as something scary,” she says, “but the mills are interested in working with innovators.
“I think that in a sense we’re a project,” she adds. “We’re trying to prove that this is a viable way to do business in our industry—and that you don’t have to sacrifice any style or any edginess or coolness in order to work this way.”
Hers was the most interesting piece to read. But it also underscored what a challenging climb lies ahead in terms of every industry having the will to get creative and not rest on its laurels.