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Vogue : Fashion Bible, or Pravda?

September 17, 2010 in Slow Luxury Fashion
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The silence is deafening.

It’s London Fashion Week and, as the fashion circus comes to town, I can’t help wondering if British Vogue – the magazine the beau monde look to for what is new, revolutionary, enthralling, and socially defining, especially in unprecedented tough economic times, hasn’t completely lost the plot.

Right now, going ethical is the hottest story on the fashion firmament and Vogue is ignoring a verdant opportunity. Even the Daily Telegraph is excited about ethical fashion and has been eulogising From Somewhere, a luxe label upcycling offcuts from iconic Italian fashion houses, and a label that I was the first to champion, in a feature for You magazine, (below), back in the dark ages of 2004!

Take the current October issue of Vogue: It’s a bumper issue, with a tragic, faraway looking Cheryl Cole as the cover heroine. There are over four hundred pages fat with advertising, and features awash with predictable stories about the return of sixties allure, minus the clever re-worked or recycled element, and cocooning winter staples, but not one meagre scrap of editorial to mark the extraordinary green revolution taking place at the heart of the British Fashion industry.

In a month when London Fashion Week places British Fashion firmly in the world spotlight, why is Vogue playing safe and supporting their advertisers? Dior, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel are not news. At a time to be bold, why isn’t Alexandra Shulman excited about Ada Zanditon? – a designer who dares to dream in the mould of a young Alexander McQueen, to be green, and to be extraordinary? Or Sarah Ratty at Ciel – a visionary talent who conjures up the most alluring dresses and swirling, heirloom alpaca capes and jackets for icons like Cate Blanchett and Sienna Miller. Or Beautiful Soul, with her sensuous East-meets-West deconstruction of the kimono, but has never been given a Vogue editorial.

Fashion is under close scrutiny as never before for an unsustainable carbon footprint, the exploitation of cheap third world labour, and polluting production practices. British Vogue ignores these concerns at its peril.

But it could be so different. The media is such a powerful and intoxicating tool. One great story in Vogue could literally inspire people to change the way they shop and consumer forever. I do hope someone  is listening.

Emesha and her startlingly wearable little black dresses inspired by the work of the Russian artist  Alexandra Exter, above, is one of my hot tips for 2011 : For her look book click here

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about the author

Alison Jane Reid

Alison Jane Reid - Journalist, Editor & Emerald Princess of Slow, Sustainable Luxury Living - 18 year track record interviewing real icons for: The Times, The Lady, You, The Mirror and Country Life. Now leading her alluring fairtrade, emerald revolution - Don’t Miss Out - Have you joined The Ethical Hedonist set?



4 responses to “Vogue : Fashion Bible, or Pravda?”

  1. Nicola Woods says:

    Hi Alison Jane,
    We are looking forward to your visit in the coming weeks and showing you our new collection, Believe – SS:11.
    See you soon, Nicola. Beautiful Soul.x

  2. Alexander Crum Ewing says:

    It’s not just young designers who are overlooked by the women’s glossies thanks to the behemoth of advertising and PR from the global luxury brands. The Daily Telegraph diary on Saturday reported that Zandra Rhodes was asked last week why she had retired. Her reply: “I haven’t. I have new collections out every year. It’s very frustrating. A lot of it has to do with advertising, because you have big designers like Gucci, who plough vast amounts of money into getting their name out there, but many designers just don’t have that sort of money.”

  3. Natalie Mccallum says:

    I like your article and it makes a very relevant and important point. The fashion industry needs to look ahead if it is to be sustainable, especially considering things like cotton production and water scarcity issues that are looming etc. Funnily enough, I have been volunteering at a Swishing stand at Covent Garden’s fashion fête today, which is clothes swapping. Girls bring clothes along, then go home with other peoples’ clothes and no money changes hands! It was originally the brainchild of one of my colleagues at Futerra, where I work now in the PR team. It’s a sustainability communications agency. Swishing.org is where you can read more about this -it’s basically a way of making clothes recycling aspirational and girls love it!

  4. lucy Tammam says:

    Maybe Vogue just dont get it? People still think because i do “ethical” my designs are “ethnic” (Bangs head against big brick wall) or i am a hippy-go-lucky flower power designer. I am not, i wear big sunglasses, smoke marlboros, hate dirt and design dresses to die for. Does it look eco / ethical / ethnic NO because i have spent the last 5 years working with producers to make sure it doesn’t = training them the way i was trained, in couture tailoring and ensuring the fabrics are of a standard and quality and luxe look to fit a beautiful couture gown.

    dont believe me?
    http://www.tammam.co.uk

    But, I imagine, Vogue still hear “ethic” and see “ethnic” as do many others. Oh the visionaries may be able to see the future of fashion, but only if its had millions backing it (or a famous rock star daddy – hmph)

    does it all boil down to money? like you say Ali – playing safe and supporting their advertisers….they need their advertisers to pay up, and us little greeny labels dont have money – we are too busy saving the planet to be commercial…..except, isnt it cutting edge design talent that drives British fashion? The same talent that should be being featured in Vogue….

    I think a lot of ethical designers have ditched the ethical label now… for these very reasons, people dont see further than a label, and that includes a busy fashion editor.

    I dont want to be shuved in the green corner either though! I dont want to just be in the “green issue” i want to be next to Westwood and McCartney (who would both get into the “green issue” even though their eco credentials aren’t particularly definitive).

    So if I am not ethical, am i just an emerging designer? I still doubt i’d get into Vogue without the right PR company working for me and a shit load of money going in the right direction.

    Now i just sound like a big old bitter cynic…..

    Maybe they will do a green Issue, I take it back – I am eco – look at me (they’ll catch on soon enough, they have to!)

    am off to walk my dog on a string and re-knot my dread locks. peace

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