Objectification in Vogue’s Ads

For a long time I got Vogue, the fashion magazine. This was primarily because I like to look at pretty pictures, since I tend to find the articles pretty insipid. I’ve tried to cancel Vogue twice. It just kept coming. After a while I decided to stop worrying about this and just keep looking at the pretty pictures since they weren’t actually charging me for the magazines that I asked them not to send me in the first place. Recently I’ve gotten increasingly annoyed with it, however, and have managed to get them to stop coming altogether (much to my relief). What finally put me over the edge with Vogue was actually not an article (although the piece where a writer froze herself in the interests of maintaining youth and beauty came close) – it was actually the ads.

I hold magazines responsible for everything they print, including the ads, particularly a magazine with a name like Vogue. See, they can approve or disapprove of an ad. It’s their magazine. Even if you buy ad space, if the ad you send in isn’t something they approve of for their publication, they can refuse to print it and then offer to print a different ad or refund the money. For a magazine like Vogue, a company may very well make a whole new ad if one is refused. So while the company is primarily at fault for making the ad, Vogue is at fault for giving approval of it by printing it.

The single worst ad that I found in a Vogue was, sadly, in the “Power Issue” (March 2009). It was for Jimmy Choo – a shoe company. It was a set of three images on a two-page spread. The image that made me really angry was on the top half of the right-hand page (here is the image). It showed a woman’s body from about her waist to just above her knee with one leg curled up so that its entirety was in the shot. The woman is wearing a white crocheted swimsuit with ties at the hips and open sides. On her feet are worked leather ankle strap stilettos with very high and very pointy heels. The heel of the visible shoe is pushed into the inside of the opposite thigh, high up near her crotch, and it looks rather painful. Her one visible hand, with its long, shiny, red fingernails, is teasingly pulling on one of the ties on her swimsuit. This is totally a bondage porn shot – the heels pressing into the woman’s flesh, the blood-red nails, the tease that she’s about to reveal more, the ties on the swimsuit and the tight cropping of the shot showing us only her crotch and surrounding areas. She’s not a person, she’s a sex toy.

It really bothered me how dehumanized this image (and numerous others like it) was. This not only didn’t make me want to buy shoes, it made me not want to buy anything from Jimmy Choo ever. I like fashion and try to wear things that look flattering on me, but I choose to wear what I wear for me. Not because it makes me look sexy or might turn a guy on. This ad isn’t trying to sell shoes with women in mind, it’s trying to sell shoes that make women sexy to men. And yeah, sometimes being sexy to men can give a woman self-confidence and make her feel more beautiful than she otherwise would, but that’s not what this is trying to say it does. This is just objectification.

Runway Thoughts: Emma Cook

I know that I took a break for a while from reviewing things, but now I’m back at it. Today I’m looking at the 2006 fall runway collection from Emma Cook. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen Emma Cook’s designs before (at least, not and recognized them as such).


A lot of this collection was very reminicent of the 1920s. It all had a nice, modern twist to it, but couldn’t you totally see Daisy from The Great Gatsby wearing this outfit? I could. I like the look, it works on tall stick-thin models who have no breasts. I’m not sure how it would work on a three-dimensional woman, though.


I love the scalloped edge detailing on this dress. It’s so pretty. The whole pattern feels very lace-like and almost organic to me, but with a touch of stained-glass. I’m not wild about the sleeve length, but otherwise I think it’s very pretty.


This is another dress that is very 1920s! I love the pairing with the shoes, they feel just right for this dress. It’s very slip-like and simple, but also has that touch of daring from the 1920s and just makes me think of flapper girls. I like this dress a lot.

There was a lot that I liked about this collection, but little that I would actually wear. It’s a great, modernized 1920s collection, but 1920s just aren’t me. They are perfect designs for models and tall skinny girls with no breasts, but for most women they just end up looking not-quite-right.

Runway Thoughts: Gareth Pugh

Come one, come all! Tonight under the Pixiepalace bigtop we have the fall 2006 runway collection from Gareth Pugh! Sorry for the circus beginning, I just couldn’t resist. You’ll totally understand when you see this collection!


This entire collection (which consists of twelve outfits) seemed very clown inspired. Mime make-up and harelequin diamond costumes were everywhere. This is actually one of the more toned down pieces. I love the clown collar in particular on this one.


This outfit would be nothing without the hat. I mean, it’s probably almost three feet tall! The leotard helps round out the circus image. I think the designer might have been going for more of a carneval feel, but I think he missed a little bit.


This is my favourite outfit. It’s a big walking balloon animal! Haven’t you always wanted to dress up as a balloon animal that can’t remotely be identified (a bunny maybe?)? No? Me neither. But apparently you can buy such an outfit ready to wear (because that was exactly what the world was lacking).

I really wasn’t able to take this collection seriously. It’s funny, go look at it. And it’s short. In fact, that may be my favourite part of the whole thing – it was only twelve outfits long!

Runway Thoughts: Giles

Today I’m looking at the collection from British designer Giles Deacon. His collection is rather wild and questionably wearable, but otherwise pretty cool. If nothing else, it was awfully fun to look at!


Ok, the first thing I thought when I saw this outfit was “Ah! She’s got a Pac-Man ghost on her dress!”. The second thing was “Ah! She’s got a Tribble on her head!”. Once I got over those two things, I managed to actually look at the dress. I’m not wild about the straight, completely not-fitted shape, but for a dress that is all about the graphic on the front, it works. I really can’t explain the hat, but it was way less scary than most of the hats in this collection, even if it does look awfully like a Tribble.


I love this coat. It’s got a great sense of movement. It’s a bit overdramatic, but sometimes that is appropriate and fun. I love the volume. I wouldn’t want to wear it as an everyday coat, but it would make a great coat for special occassions!


This is one of the things that makes the Tribble hat seem normal. The hat seriously looks like sheet metal tacked to the girl’s head. I can’t imagine it being worn. That said, as walking art this outfit is pretty cool. It has sort of a toga mixed with high-tech feel. I like the mix, it’s unusual and cool. But it isn’t that wearable.


And then we got to the evening gown portion of the show. Each one was completely different, which I really liked. It’s fun to see a show where every single outfit is completely different from every other outfit. A few of the evening gowns were ok, if a little bit like walking art (but, as I said above, that doesn’t really bother me). This one is odd because of the stiffness of the bodice. It’s like it doesn’t require breasts, and in fact, they might just be in the way. It doesn’t look comfortable at all. Some of the other designs were much better. They looked moderately comfortable and very artistic and eye catching.

Overall, I enjoyed this collection. I can’t say that I would buy much of it (that coat was probably the only piece I’d really pay money for), but I enjoyed the specticle of it. I liked seeing a show that was purely walking art (and not zombie girls). The collection wasn’t very wearable overall (where would these hats *not* look out of place?), but it was fun to look at. If you get the chance, go look at the whole thing. Each pieces is crazier than the last and all are interesting to look at. If I could have posted every outfit, I would have!

Runway Thoughts: Jill Sander

Today I’m looking at the collection from Jill Sander, a line that is now being designed by a young Belgian man named Raf Simons. I usually adore Jill Sander coats because they have such wonderful details. I even did a paper doll outfit of one! But this collection is very far from that.


This collection, like many of the others of the season, started out oppressively black. So much black that it was frequently hard to see what the models were wearing. Not that it mattered that much, since most of them were wearing fairly boring outfits like this one. There just isn’t anything here to grab me. Nothing at all.


And then we got to the coats. Remember how I said I usually love Jill Sander coats? Well, this collection changed that. I found nothing interesting in these coats. They weren’t flattering, completely lacked any interesting (visable) details, and had nothing to draw the eye. I had to fight to not fall asleep looking at them!


This was the one and only piece in the collection that I found myself really paying much attention to without forcing myself to stare at pictures. I can’t say that I *like* it, but it is interesting. What are those bands under the bust and at the hip? Are they seams? They don’t look like seams. Is the dress more sheer than it appears here and they are solid bands? I don’t know! But I do wonder! If this dress were more fitted to the model, I might actually really like it.


Most of the dresses in the collection were like this. Shapeless and lacking in any interesting details. That’s what really bugged me about this collection. Nothing was attractive and all the cool details I usually like from Jill Sander were completely missing! Why would I wear this? It’s like a black housedress you’d change out of before going out!

I was, obviously, not impressed with this collection. I found it boring and unflattering. And so much black! Would some color really kill us? I usually like Jill Sander, but this collection was pretty awful.

Runway Thoughts: Paul Smith Women

Today I’m looking at the fall 2006 ready-to-wear collection from Paul Smith Women. This show really underwhelmed me.


This outfit looks like something I could buy at the mall. It’s not *designed* at all. The sweater is cute, but has nothing new about it all. The skirt isn’t even fitted well or anything. It really likes like something I could find at Boston Store! I like the look fine, but I don’t know why I would turn to an expensive brand for it when I could find the pieces in town.


Most of the pieces in this collection lacked any tailoring or even fitting details like darts. They were completely shapeless and baggy. Now, they looked very comfortable, but that isn’t everything. You can be comfortable and flattering at the same time!


I don’t quite understand this dress. The neckline is so unflattering. It’s like it wants to be a one shoulder dress, but has that extra strap tacked on for the hell of it. And the contrasting shirt underneath doesn’t help at all.

I wasn’t fond of this collection. It felt disjointed, like there wasn’t any cohesion in the design. I just thought it seemed awfully random. Most of the pieces were either things that I could buy at the mall or vastly unflattering. I was very underwhelmed by this collection. Hopefully the next one will be better.

Runway Thoughts: Preen

Today I’m looking at the fall 2006 collection from Preen. After the collection yesterday, I was ready for some real clothing again. Unfortunately, I’m apparently not done with science fiction costumes. Today was less dystopian and more space station.


See! Totally space station wear. The silver metalic fabric and odd straps, even the cut outs on the sides of the skirt, are all science fiction standards. All it needs is a clear plastic panel. The problem is that it looks really uncomfortable. It seems too tight around the bust (I don’t think it has any darts or anything) and the strap across the throat hits at a very strange place. She looks like the dress is trying to choke her! I just couldn’t handle this dress. There were several pieces in the collection that looked worse too.


This dress looks like a robe to me. It just doesn’t look like a dress. There were several coat-dresses like this. I just don’t know where I would wear this. It looks like a robe that might show up on Star Trek.


I have no idea what to say about this dress. The top is bad enough, but the feathers just put it over the top. And the two tufts of feathers on the breasts just add to the strangeness. I really have no idea who would wear this or where. It’s just so incredibly weird! It’s stranger than the feather dresses from Heatherette! At least those dresses looked like you *could* wear them in public, you’d just be stared at a lot. This one is all but unwearable! I have no idea what the designer was thinking!

Overall I was pretty unimpressed with this collection. Everything was in solid colors and many pieces seemed to rely on the silver fabric to make them different. I just felt like I was watching the costume designs from “Zenon 4″ walk by or something!

Runway Thoughts: Richard Nicoll

The collection I’m looking at today is from Richard Nicoll, whom I know next to nothing about. This was his first solo collection. I see potential, and some of the pieces were cool, but overall the collection confused me a lot. I just wasn’t sure what he was trying to achieve.


I have no idea what Nicoll wanted from this outfit. The apron and sleeve puffs and contrasting panels and the military colar all just seem like random things thrown onto the same outfit and the overall effect is just confusing! Why would I want to wear this?


Look, it’s Maria Von Trapp! The color combinations and sleeve puffs and trim details of the early parts of this collection all screamed German or Austrian maidens to me. I mean, it is cute, but also rather costumey. I just can’t say I’d wear it. If I wanted to look like an Austrian maiden I’d by an authentic Austrian dress.


Nicoll said that he was inspired by Victorian housemaids. That’s pretty clear in this one. The high necked blue and white blouse, white apron, and small tie are all pretty classic Victorian housemaid things. And if you look in the background at the model leaving, she has rubber gloves on. Um… ok. The outfits are kinda cute, but why exactly would I want to dress like a Victorian housemaid? I mean, there are great pieces, but it’s hard to see them under aprons and sleeve puffs! I just don’t see what is marketable or practical about this collection.

There were parts of this collection that I thought were cute, but for the most part I didn’t get it. It just didn’t seem like things real women would want to wear.

Runway Thoughts: Basso & Brooke

Today I’m looking at the collection from Basso & Brooke, a design team who usually make not so wearable 80′s inspired clothing covered in crazy coloured prints. Many of those hallmarks are still present in this collection, but we’ve apparently left the eighties for a distopian future and they seem to have gotten a little more wearable in general. Strange combination, but what did I expect from a team that always shows slightly strange collections?


This is totally what the Mad Hatter would wear if he was in the world of the Matrix. Why they opened the show with this, I don’t know. It did make me sit up and take notice. It’s not a forgettable piece. That said, it’s also not that flattering (at least, it wouldn’t be on a real woman). I’m not a big fan of the bright green and black spandex pants. The coat could be cool, but it would need something else paired with it. Like jeans or something. And I just can’t get past the Matrix print.


Every outfit down the runway made me think that it belonged in a crazy dystopian future where technology is amazing and those in power are completely corrupt. There’s probably an underground movement to fight against the Man or against the evil machines that have oppressed the humans. Maybe it’s an alien race that’s oppressing them? Regardless, the humans are largely oppressed and there is a scrappy and resourceful resistance movement in the underground. This dress is some woman’s corporate work outfit. She’s a cog in a much larger evil company that she is only just realizing is evil. She’s going to either die or join the resistance in a scene or two. Doesn’t she look suitably downtrodden and broken by tediousness?


This is our scrappy heroine. She goes on dangerous missions that she has no right to survive, but she somehow does. Maybe she’s geneticly engeneered, or maybe she’s just destined to succeed. Either way, you know that while she may die in the process, she will eventally succeed. This is her “stealthing through the populous” outfit. She blends in wearing it, even though no one else is dressed remotely similarly. It’s the hood that tips you off that she’s stealthing. The open skirt is the sexy detail (because every outfit she wears must have one overtly sexy detail). She’s from a tribe that lives in the badlands and she has a tragic background where her family all died and she had to basically raise herself in a horrible environment. She always looks a little tribal and bitchy as a result. No one but her partner is rude enough to notice. And it’s black because she’s too cool to wear any other colour.


This is the heroine’s partner. She’s the brains of the opperation, but she is useless in a fight. She sabatoges the computer while the scrappy heroine kicks the guards’ butts or creates a loud, bloody distraction three floors down. This is her “infiltration” costume. She’s supposed to be a buisnesswoman at a fancy party for the rich people who control the dystopian community. You know that she works for the underground resistance because her dress is black and slightly edgy, just like you know the powerful evil femme will be in a skin-tight red number with a high slit and the innocent wife of the conniving politician who has no idea what is going on will be in a white goddess gown that isn’t too low-cut and doesn’t have a slit. All the evil high powered men think our infiltrator here is hot, but otherwise she blends in seamlessly (despite standing out like a sore thumb, but she has the same magic the heroine does).

Clearly I had trouble taking this collection seriously. Every attempt that I made to do a serious discussion of the pieces in this collection failed spectacularly, so you get this. Sorry. I hope you got what I thought of each piece anyway. I had a story for most of the pieces in the collection. I don’t think I would wear any of them as presented. I kind of like the Hatter coat in the first picture, but it’s hard to imagine in a different setting and with different pieces. Overall, this was a memorable collection in a not so good way. I’ll go look at it when I need to think about science fiction dystopian costumes, but not for real clothing I might ever wear. Oh well. It was a fun review to write!

Runway Thoughts: Miu Miu

Today I am going to look at the fall 2006 runway collection from Miu Miu. This is a sub-brand of Prada, their “little sister” brand. They said that they wanted this collection to epitomize the “Miu Miu Girl” who is youthful and “angelic”. I can see the youthful, but the angelic part completely escapes me.


I like the shape of this dress and the fabric, but I can’t figure out why there is a bulky sweater under it. It just looks odd (and a little uncomfortable). And is she carrying a lunch box? Do you really want the girls to look *that* youthful? That’s seriously jailbait territory.


Ok, so they weren’t going for subtle or elegant. Remember how I said I missed the whole “angelic” part of the show? It was because of the outfits like this one. One had a coat over it, but the scary top was still visible. I don’t know, this outfit just scares me. It kind of screams “prostitute” to me.


A whole bunch of the models were dressed like this in cute dresses with floppy tops or sweaters under them and everything falling off one shoulder. First off, this does a terrible job of showing people what the clothes look like (which is, in theory, the purpose of a runway show). Besides that, it looks sloppy and unappealing. Of course, the makeup and hair does that too. What’s with the dark lips and stringy hair? What on earth were they going for here?


It seems like if anyone in the fashion world says they were going for youthful you can almost count on their collection having a school girl outfit. In this case, it has way more of an anime schoolgirl feel than a Catholic schoolgirl feel. Again with the scary hypersexualized jailbait thing. It kind of bothers me. Youthful I get, childish I really don’t and the fact that so many designers can’t seem to tell the difference is really scary on a level I never wanted to think about.

Overall, as I’m sure is pretty clear, I didn’t like or really understand this collection. It felt like the designer was going for ten year old prostitute wear. Why would you want that? There are pieces that I could see being great if you put them by themselves and didn’t have the scary freaked out little girl vibe from the makeup and hair, but for the most part the collection is really not up my alley. I’d rather look like a youthful 24-year old than a ten year old with breasts.

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