September Song

The Silly Symphony of the Fall Fashion Magazines

Paging Madame Blavatsky: Nut cures have been a staple of the magazine world for over 100 years, and September is no different. Though an article in Voguecalled "Slim Pickings," about a cellulite-busting pill called Cellasene, is refreshingly candid (it doesn't work), a piece entitled "Fashion Feng Shui" sinks rapidly back into credulity, never once questioning the validity of a theory that argues that your personal fate depends on which corner of a room you put the wastepaper basket in. (On the advice of the feng shui "master" profiled in the article, a Dallas multimillionaire tore up the costly final-stage blueprints of her house. "The landscape artist freaked out, but the pool was in the wrong place," the master explains. "I told her, If you put water in that corner, it will destroy your relationship with your husband. . . . ")

Even when the mags turn their attention to more conventional medicine, their advice can be mirth-producing. A title in Ellepromises "Three Ways To Slim" but the trio of subjects is quirky at best: one is a strict vegetarian whose idea of a treat is a slice of green pepper; another won't eat pasta, bread, or even a piece of fruit (the sugar!); and the third, a flibbertigibbet who gorges on Snickers and macaroni-and-cheese and sloppy joes, just eats and eats and can't seem to gain an ounce.

Last year's models: In the hermetically sealed world of the fashion mags, the critical eye is exercised only retroactively. Every new collection must be met with puppy-panting enthusiasm; six months later, it's OK to slash and burn. (How else to convince you to throw out perfectly good stuff and buy something else?) Thus the "Fashions of the Times" declares: "No More Boring Fashion. Let's be frank. In the past few years, fashion got fat and flabby— so lazy, so used to being the center of attention without even trying. Letting the supermodels sell clothes instead of ideas, putting all the creativity into advertising. But last season, things started to change. . . . " And Vogue, in a puff piece for a leather jacket, instructs the reader to "Turn your slick-jacketed back on last year's amorphous dirndls and floaty, unwhittled waistlines (did someone say 'unflattering'?). Instead, zip up, strap on, and shimmy into sexy molded pieces that won't leave onlookers wondering where your curves have gone." As if 704 pages weren't enough, the magazine comes packed with an insert called Vogue's Runway Guide From A to Z, a lexicon wherein "W is for Wait-lists." A roster of pricey, hard-to-find items follows, including Michael Kors suede pants, Helmut Lang biker jackets, pink-and-brown Prada mules, and hand-knitted Christian Dior sweaters. But before you rush over to Madison Avenue or down to SoHo and add your name to a list, shouldn't you try to figure out which of these wonderful treasures Voguewill fling on the dung heap next September?

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