Every so often Vogue US reminds us why we fell in love with fashion in the first place. While bashing Wintour’s Vogue has become something of a blogosphere bloodsport the publication has it’s moments of grandeur, at it’s best it can still be high fashion’s most accessible representative. What it lacks in sartorial brownie points (the kind hard earned by it’s edgier European counterparts) it makes up for in it’s consistent commitment to glamour. The formula is stale but there is a reason it worked in the first place, how many among us can count a copy of Vogue as their first true introduction to fashion?

While the dregs of tabloid cover copy and dreary socialite puff pieces have bogged down Vogue in recent years there are still treasures to behold. This month’s zany Steven Meisel piece ‘It’s a Madcap World’ hinges on so many of the things that make Vogue worthwhile – unique styling, impeccable casting and a tongue in cheek humor.

Gone are the plethora of recent Vogue standby models – in their place a fresh crop of favorites with a few familiar faces for good measure. As appealing as Caroline Trentini is there is a limit to how many times the same faces can be recycled. Seeing Vogue newcomers like Karlie Kloss and Viktoriya Sasonkina prove their mettle instantly raises the bar. As does the zany yet infinitely imitable styling – flat hats and half veils are ladylike but they’re also amusingly avant-garde. The featured selection of designers is as eclectic as ever, proving Grace Coddington hasn’t lost her golden touch.

Individual elements aside it’s ultimately the overarching feel that takes things to that next level. The simple joy of a bike ride or a walk in the park is displayed with a willfully unorthodox glamour. The story is at times carefree, at times moody – it gives us a window into a world that is curious and yet familiar. Meisel might save the heavy hitters for Vogue Italia but he’s presented American Vogue with arguably the most memorable fashion story it’s done in recent memory. Though the story isn’t perfect it serves to remind us that fashion can be inclusive, that i can be innovative without being lofty. It reminds us that glamour need not stem from a simple rehashing of eras and that humor ought to be a key phrase in the style lexicon. Most of all it reminds us that maybe, just maybe that little magazine we love to hate can find it’s footing in the new year.