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Vogue has long enjoyed being a household name and go-to fashion mag; "Project Runway" propelled Elle into the top (a spot most likely untainted by the embarassing "Stylista," as the show boasted few viewers and even fewer fans); Glamour's EIC Cindi Leive was named Most Powerful U.S. Fashion Magazine Editor by Forbes; W obtained Brad Pitt's exclusive photos of Angelina and their kids; and Cosmopolitan topped circulation charts.
I always read but rarely read about my favorite, Harper's Bazaar, America's first fashion magazine. Why do I love Bazaar so much?
The Models are Credited
Vogue may have tried to recreate the era of the supermodel with its May 2007 issue ("The World's Next Top Models") and educate its readers, but Bazaar is the one that credits models in their editorials. Even if professionals claim that "America's Next Top Model" is not an accurate reflection of the industry, viewers have learned at the very least that models aren't just pretty faces with legs--they work hard and require talent to be successful. Don't they deserve credit?
Sure, it's not true that Vogue never credits their models. Certainly, the interviewed celebrities/socialites are credited. And in its November 2008 issue, the "Field of Dreams" editorial was subtitled, "Natalia Vodianova...sets out on a magical family adventure." But in the same issue, the preceding editorial, "Chill Factor," credits the fashion editor, the designers, the photographer, and the hair and makeup stylists, without ever mentioning the model's name (Raquel Zimmermann). This is the Vogue norm. Is this because the models get paid a fortune already and that's all the credit they need? Is it because the readers don't care, and those who would want to hire the models already know who the girls are anyway? Is it another way for fashion elitists patting themselves on the back for knowing models' faces without being told? Is it blind following of a magazine tradition that was once reasonable but no longer applicable? It boggles the mind why models would not be credited.
The models worked hard to book the job, to give the magazine the shots for the editorial, and therefore have earned a spot for their name. Elle credits them, and so does Bazaar.
Complete Fashion Focus
I only subscribe to Bazaar, Vogue, W, and Elle because these magazines are more focused on fashion. Every page dedicated to relationship advice is a page robbed of fashion content. I certainly wouldn't go so far as to claim that I don't need relationship advice; a magazine, however, is not where I would want to look for it (it's all recycled crap anyway).
Elle is weakest in this category. The February 2009 issue contains "The Laws of Attraction: The new (scientific way to find the one)," "How to Get Over Getting Dumped," "Lovebugs," "Sexy Beast," and "Ask E. Jean." All of these are relationship articles. I don't mind reading about beauty, the industry, and even addressing image and health issues. But relationship articles transform a magazine into a general women's magazine, rather than a fashion mag. The farthest Bazaar strays from its fashion focus is its horoscopes, and that's only one page.
Fabulous at Every Age
I love Bazaar's column, "Fabulous at Every Age." It's almost easy to forget that fashion isn't just made for the young models prancing the catwalks and covering editorial spreads. Apart from young celebrities and socialites, fashion clientele must include more mature and experienced women who have worked longer and have more money. "Fabulous at Every Age" ensures that Bazaar cares about all age groups, and reminds everyone to dress their age--fabulously, of course.
Ivana Trump's Make-Under
All fashion magazines features interviews. I was particularly captivated by Bazaar's February 2009 interview with Ivana Trump because instead of dressing her "up," they dressed her "down" for a "make-under." Sure, there may not be that many candidates who qualify for a "make-under" (though Christina Aguilera and Evan Rachel Wood come to mind), but Bazaar's fresh attitude shone through. I only wish there were more pictures.
Fashion Advice from Karl Lagerfeld
If Bazaar can make this a monthly column, I'd be in heaven.
Reflecting the Times
In this economic recession, magazine editors must expect that readers have become more interested in mixing low cost with high fashion. Elle may have special articles like "Beauty: Get Gorgeous for Less Than $20" and "Styles for Less: The Best Under $50," but Bazaar integrates the theme throughout the entire issue without making you feel as though you're sacrificing style to save money. Bazaar not only has special "Under $150" tags throughout, they've also taken the care to select more modestly-priced, stylish items above $150.
Nothing I hate more than a busy magazine cover trying to grab your attention. Bazaar instead has subscriber covers that has only the logo, name of cover model, and sometimes a short title (e.g. "Spring Fashion Issue"). Whereas Elle subscriber covers are only slightly edgier than the newsstand covers, Bazaar subscriber covers are more artistic and non-conventional.
I don't mean W's brand of experiments that often end up looking like poor attempts at artistic porn. But when Johanna, the winner of "Stylista," created white space on some of the layouts for Elle in episode 7 (aired in December 2008), Bazaar was not afraid of trying that out in its January 2009 issue ("The New Collections"). Elle has continued this layout style, while Bazaar seems to have put it to rest. Was this temporary adoption a good idea? I don't know, but at least Bazaar wasn't afraid to give it a try. Some might say that what Bazaar did was "copying" and far from being original, but I think it shows adaptability, which is exactly what fashion magazines need right now.