Another month, another new issue of Vogue, as maligned as American Vogue is at times, there is always something worth discussing. This issue’s theme of dynamic American women is in direct conjunction with the upcoming MET gala and that makes things slightly more interesting than usual. Lets have a look at the good, the bad and the completely redundant, breaking it all down report card style. Did Wintour and co. make the grade for May or if this is one of those hide it from the parents report cards, that should never see the light of day?

VIEW
Surprisingly good amount of articles with interesting subject matter – Jason Wu at TSE, new designer Mandy Coon, the return of minimalism and Celine’s ubiquitous bags – but the abbreviated nature of these articles leaves me wishing there was more. There seemed to be enough space for about 10 ads for Chico’s (no I’m not making this up – the caliber of ads in this issue is so tragic and bargain basement) so why couldn’t there be a couple of proper pages on TSE? Or a little mini-edit that utilized the full talents of Jamie Bochert and Meghan Collison?

Speaking of underutilized, Lynn Yeager should be handling so much more than just a flimsy (yet highly entertaining) article on subversive pearls. I love that Sebastian Kim is shooting for the View section, his photographs of Lakshmi are phenomenal and feel so fresh / well connected to the minimalist theme – couldn’t hurt to give him a few more pages to show his stuff.

GRADE: B-


EDITORIALS

Surprisingly strong showing for a typically dull month. Perhaps it is better to break things down story by story as the levels of quality really do vary…

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE | PH – DAVID SIMS | FASHION EDITOR – TONNE GOODMAN

If you’ve seen David Sims’ work for W or Vogue Paris or any other magazine ever, you know that he can do so much more than a grey background studio edit but every so often the concept works. This time around he’s been given the grand task of breaking down American style by era / current trend, no small feat but Sims manages. These are some of the most interesting shots to appear in Vogue this year so far – the bohemian looks on Sasha Pivovarova are especially intriguing, Could have done without the completely redundant “heiress” picture but beggars can’t be choosers.

GRADE: A

SEASONS OF OUR DISCONTENT | PH – ANNIE LEIBOVITZ | FASHION EDITOR – PHYLIS POSNICK

One singularly amazing shot accompanying an article about something actually relevant! If only the article weren’t written by Plum Sykes, you could create a series of high fashion mad libs based on her style. Every Plum article ever is comprised of a namedrop here, an overpriced item there and a couple of personal anecdotes for good measure but there is something almost endearing about that level of consistency. That said, seasonless shopping is a hot topic right now and the discussion provided in the piece is lively – Ken Downing, Thomas Maier and Matthew Williamson all chime in.

GRADE: B+


AMERICANS IN PARIS | PH – MARIO TESTINO | FASHION EDITOR – MARIE AMELIE SAUVE

I wanted to hate this editorial for numerous reasons: firstly this looks like a watered down version of a Vogue Paris editorial and lets be honest Carine and co. do it better – they would have added in a hint of subversiveness to prevent things from seeming trite. Secondly,  there was really no reason I needed a double dose of Daria Werbowy in this issue. Don’t get me wrong the girl is gorgeous but there is something terribly lazy about relying on the same tried and true faces, couldn’t Jacquelyn Jablonski have done this just as well? Of course I can’t truly hate a story this mind-numbingly pretty and as always Marie Amelie, manages to test the limits of my credit card by making me want something I didn’t know I wanted. Or in this case by reinforcing the fact that I really ought to invest in a Celine bag. Damn you Marie-Amelie!!

GRADE: B

LADY DAY | PH – STEVEN MEISEL | FASHION EDITOR – GRACE CODDINGTON

Sometimes I think Steven Meisel is just cackling in the darkness as he comes up with editorial ideas, this story is pure camp! Doesn’t Amber look like the ultimate drag princess in her stiff multicolor wigs and even stiffer ensembles? For me this story represents an incredibly humorous and spot on parody of the ladies who lunch:  as you turn each page, you are greated with a newer and even more exaggerated socialite, all played by the same woman – if that isn’t a commentary on the pitfalls NY society, I don’t know what is.

GRADE: A+

CELEBRITIES

PARKER POWER | PH – MARIO TESTINO  | FASHION EDITOR

There is absolutely nothing new, fresh or interesting about Sarah Jessica Parker: Ms. Parker seems like a lovely and talented woman but she’s been on the cover of American Vogue 4 times prior and her presence feels redundant. We all know she has a film to promote and though Sex and the City 2 is sure to be chock full of designer gear, there is a certain emptiness to the endeavor, like most sequels it should be entitled “the quest for more money.” My resounding disintrest aside, Mario Testino makes Parker look very good in her pictorial – a few gowns and a classic chignon will never fail.

The other stars featured fare better, especially Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in an article about staring in August Wilson’s Fences.

GRADE: C



PROFILES

While Parker is given quite a few pages – the profiles of other dynamic American women seem abbreviated: star power will always trump uniqueness in the Vogue world. Profiles of sculptor Rachel Feinstein, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and Olympian Lindsey Vonn could have been considerably longer, though Annie Liebovitz and Norman Jean Roy’s engaging portraits reveal a great deal about each of their subjects. For no logical reason whatsoever, flavor of the month singer Taylor Swift is featured amongst these women, call me crazy but getting dissed by Kanye West is not an accomplishment on par with shaping the future of social networking, but perhaps I am biased by my ongoing fascination with Mr. West’s public outbursts.

Especially moving (and possibly my favorite part of the whole issue) was the piece on Yale’s Sarah Lewis, a short but truly compelling look at a dynamic woman who is using her intelligence to change the art world. Smart, savvy and definitely someone whose name should be on your radar, isn’t it nice when a magazine introduces you to something other than a fascinating new shoe?

GRADE: B

GPA VOGUE MAY 2010

VIEW: B-
EDITORIALS: A-
CELEBRITY CONTENT: C
PROFILES: B

GRADE OVERALL: B

Not a bad issue overall – Raul Martinez’s influence is finally beginning to be felt, the subtle changes in layout are a definite improvement (and a welcome bit of fun for font nerds) if you cut away some of the annoyances and threw in a Mert and Marcus shoot this would be a tip top issue.

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