I have had, over the years, a dotty as a dalmatian relationships with fashion magazines, veering from over the top indulgence when every month I bought a slew of them to a pared pack approach in recent times which saw me limiting my fashion magazine purchases to a copy of Vogue each month. Except in December when I buy, as a present to myself, a host of magazines which I wrap in festive paper and then open them one at a time to read on each of the post-Christmas days.
Despite my December multi-buys of fashion glossies I view them with a certain ambivalence, this stems from wondering about the symbiotic relationship between editorial staff and advertisers. After all he who pays the piper calls the tune so I think it very likely that the major advertisers in these magazines also influence content. However, that said, I do enjoy leafing through their glossy pages.
This year I bought as part of my December haul the January issue of Harper’s Bazaar (UK edition). The reason I added it to my list is that the magazine has a new editor – Justine Picardie. I cannot claim in any sense to know Justine Picardie but I did exchange a few words with her when she spoke at a literary supper in Dublin organized by The Gloss (Irish magazine) in June 2011. I bought a ticket to said literary supper because I had very much enjoyed her well-written and excellently researched biography of Coco Chanel and I wanted to hear her talk about the book.
As I planed to write about Justine’s biography of Chanel on Just Add Attitude I approached her to ask if I could take her picture and she immediately agreed in a very kindly way. I am cringing dolefully as I recall how I struggled with my camera while she was patience personified for what seemed like an eternity. My total inexperience in taking portraits meant that the images I took didn’t do Justine or the beautiful Chanel jacket she was wearing justice so I didn’t use them on the blog. She displayed the same kindness and patience to everyone (myself included) who queued to get her to sign their copy of Chanel:The Legend and the Life. I was as much struck on the night of the literary supper by her attitude (friendly and encouraging) as I was by her eloquent speech. It was thus a racing certainty that I would buy Haprer’s Bazaar when I heard she was the newly appointed editor.
The January issue (it comes out for reasons that I don’t understand in December) of Harper’s Bazaar was the first one that Justine directly impacted since she took over as editor in September. There is much to love about it: the writing; the photography; the interesting mix of fashionable clothes including many affordable items; an interview with Sienna Miller; journalist Tanya Gold’s look at how her relationship with her body evolved over the years …
My two favourite bits were first the ‘Why Don’t You?’ column which is based on the original column of that name compiled by legendary Harper’s editor Diana Vreeland. Here’s a few samples from the 2012 ‘Why Don’t You? ‘
‘… do as Coco Chanel did, and wear a traditional gentleman’s Scottish tweed Jacket.’
‘… plant dozens of sweet pea seeds, which will be gloriously scented next summer.’
And secondly the Beauty section which mostly eschewed product write-ups and was instead given over to lots of interesting expert advice on recharging: body, mind, diet, lifestyle…
I liked, a lot, the January issue of Harper’s Bazaar which seemed to me to effortless blend elegance and erudition with good writing and much more besides. I have added Harper’s Bazaar to my ‘to-buy’ list for January.