The cluelessly materialistic Christmas plans of British Vogue’s editors are at odds with the furious Communism of the magazine’s teenage offshoot.
How did you spend your Christmas? Pleasantly, I hope, though in truth I don’t really want to know – chances are, we don’t know each other and even if we do, there’s no need to get into anything more than a passing description of your time arguing with the family or staying at home shouting “bah humbug” at the TV. Like asking people at work if they had a nice weekend, enquiring about Christmas is a formal nicety that does not come with the expectation of an actual answer.
Unless you are one of the many editors of British Vogue, in which case we are apparently expected to be enthralled by their fabulous lives. Perhaps that’s an understandable conceit, given that Sarah Harris (deputy editor and fashion features director) has been subject of mentally unbalanced writing like this. I imagine that being in an editorial position at Vogue could well give a person the idea that they are in some way an important celebrity, rather than a pixel pusher at a magazine that is running on fumes. And so the magazine’s British website probably had no qualms at running a piece entitled How the Vogue Editors are Spending Christmas This Year. Spoiler alert: none of them have been squeezed onto a fold-up bed at the family house, having screaming matches with family members or having to deal with incontinent and senile parents.
The afore-mentioned Harris. for example, announced that she was off to “the Cayman Islands to stay at the newly opened Palm Heights for Christmas and New Year.” ‘Newly opened’ presumably because someone so important couldn’t possibly be expected to slum it at a hotel that was last year’s thing. At least she’s easy to please gift-wise: “It’s the same every year: something gold and/or sparkly, please. And, for when I return home, a Ronan Bouroullec painting on my wall.” Well, that could’ve been lifted from anyone’s letter to Santa really.
Ellie Pithers (Fashion features editor & senior associate digital editor) is also off on holiday, to the French Alps – more specifically “a spell at Le Coucou in Méribel, a new hotel designed by Pierre Yovanovitch with a delicious-looking spa; and a stop-off at Le Refuge de Solaise in Val d’Isère. Only accessible via ski lift, it promises superlative stargazing and fresh powder before breakfast.” Superlative indeed. Pithers has more specific gift tastes, appropriate given her home circumstances: “My ongoing project to convert my home into a concept store, much to the amusement of my flatmates, requires the addition of an onyx tray from Monologue London.”
Fucking hell, what insanity is this? Who in the name of all that’s holy would talk about turning their home into a ‘concept store’ (try this at home, and see if your flatmates are amused at such eccentricities). Onyx trays from Monologue (which now come up as a predictive Google search, suggesting I’m not the first to read this article and then look them up) are a mere £950, in case you were wondering what price range Pithers was thinking of. Perhaps her flatmates will club together for it. It certainly looks worth every penny.
As for New Year, her plans are simple: “Hopefully swathed in Paco Rabanne, twirling a fondue fork, swinging Chanel’s cable-car minaudière from my shoulder and not talking about Brexit.” I desperately hope she’ll be doing all this in the local Wetherspoon.
Olivia Singer (Executive fashion news editor, a title that made me laugh out loud much more than it should’ve done) is not one for indulgence. Rather, she is “heading to the Lanserhof to embark on a seven-day detox programme”. For those of you unfamiliar with the Lanserhof, it’s a spa for the rich and stupid offering all manner of scientifically unproven nonsense like “daily Shiatsu to intravenous vitamin drips to a wealth of both holistic and medical diagnostics”. I suspect that Singer swears by homeopathy and is easily swayed by the gibberish spouted by nutritionists. She’ll be following the Mayr Method of detox, which has been described as “a mixture of wishful thinking, pseudo-physiology and outright quackery”, but no doubt helps you lose the pounds in one way or another.
Anyway, back to the indulgence.
Style Director Dena Giannini is off to “the Geejam Hotel in the foothills of the Blue Mountains near Port Antonio.” Much of Giannini’s entry sounds like a promotional piece for the hotel – we’ll come back to this point shortly – though she makes time to plug her fabulous wardrobe (“I’ll be accessorising with my raffia Delvaux bag, Manolo Blahnik sandals and Dior headscarf”) and her lust for expensive gifts (“a Leica camera, because my phone will be tucked away for some quality digital detox time. And diamonds, of course”). For those in doubt, Leica cameras are a tad more expensive than your standard point and shoot disposable affair, which would surely be all that was needed to replace a phone for a week or two. But hey, think big.
Poppy Kain (senior contributing fashion editor) rather lets the side down by going to Rye for Christmas, rather than some exotic foreign resort or exclusive health club, though she does her best to big it up as “London’s Long Island”. Her clothing choice is suitably pompous though, being “a Chopova Lowena dress with a pair of Grainne Morton’s one-of-a-kind earrings, which are made entirely from found objects and precious metals”. A quick aside. This was published on December 15th, so the interviews must’ve been done at least a day or so earlier. Did you know exactly what you would be wearing on Christmas Day two weeks earlier? Me neither. We’ll come back to this, too.
Kain wants a mountain bike – a £4500 mountain bike, mind – as a gift, which at least sounds a more authentic way of getting healthy than intravenous vitamin drips.
Lastly, we come to Naomi Smart, shopping editor. She is spending Christmas “at El Coyol, a secluded villa on one of the world’s smallest private islands, overlooking Lake Nicaragua.” Well, of course she is. For Christmas, she wants “a piece of jewellery from James de Givenchy’s Taffin, or a sculptural lamp from Carmen D’Apollonio”, both of which are listed as ‘price on request’, which generally means that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
You have to wonder just how much money Vogue editors are paid to enjoy such a luxurious lifestyle. It’s not as though they are Anna Wintour or anyone actually important. We’re all in the wrong jobs, clearly. But there’s a whiff of product placement about the whole piece, as each entry is followed by a list of the expensive items mentioned, while hotels and spas are linked to. A cynic might think that it is all wishful thinking, and that these editors will actually be sat on Boxing Day eating warmed up turkey dressed in a Pokemon onesie, watching the same shite on TV as everyone else, eagerly telling anyone who will listen that ‘shopping editor’ is an actual thing on a magazine. This might be a carefully disguised slice of clickbait by the ailing publication – and if so, a well planned one, given the amount of mockery and fury that has greeted the piece. I’ve seen more desperate scams used to get those all important clickthroughs. Though how many Onyx ashtrays have been sold as a result is open to question.
At the very least, you might hope that this is satire – a humorous bit of play-acting, with the interviewees living up to every cartoonish idea of what a pretentious Vogue editor would be like. I quite like this idea, but I have a feeling that these are people who are entirely devoid of what the rest of us might consider to be a sense of humour.
But maybe this glamorous, clueless, utterly empty and blindingly crass lifestyle really is how they live. That’s something to ponder, isn’t it?
Just how all this breathtaking elitism fits with the aspirations of Teen Vogue – website section headers ‘style’, ‘politics’, ‘culture’ and ‘identity’ – is anyone’s guess . There is no decadent pleasure – indeed, no pleasure at all – to be found in the pages of Teen Vogue, where furious identity politics and self-loathing by the offspring of well-heeled white parents finds a home. Greed is most definitely not good here. This is a magazine that eulogises ‘literal Communist’ Ash Sarkar and rails against capitalism, suggesting a certain blindness to what it is – do the editors think that angry middle class Commies will be eagerly seeking out any version of Vogue?
It might, of course, just be the angry juvenile offspring of Vogue, self-consciously hating everything that its parent stands for while benefitting from it hugely, much as most of the leftist students demanding the overthrow of the system do so from the iPhones that daddy has paid for. It certainly has the bratty petulance and misguided self-belief that will be familiar to anyone who has met (or, for that matter, been) a teenager. Their support of an anti-Capitalist system might seem odd, given the Vogue tradition of trying to convince people that staggeringly expensive consumer items are must-haves. But who knows – maybe it’ll be Manolo Blahnik sandals and Ronan Bouroullec paintings for all come the revolution that Teen Vogue wants, and definitely not the empty supermarket shelves, spiralling inflation and rampant corruption that has marked previous Communist experiments. But I rather suspect that the empty, greedy, painfully materialistic fashionistas of Vogue would be first against the wall, followed swiftly by the celebrity-fixated, plastic revolutionaries of their teen offspring. Or perhaps, in the tradition of cultural revolutions, they’d be sent to work in the fields, re-educated as peasants. At least starvation rations would help with that detox.
Vogue, despite its long and storied history of classic photography and sometimes decent writing, has always been essentially empty, a fantasy lifestyle for the bored and wishful. Teen Vogue, on the other hand, is an entirely pointless waste of energy for middle class revolutionaries and wannabe victims who decry the wealthy but carry on worshipping at the feet of the Kardashians and definitely need the latest iPad to post their furious anti-capitalist tweets from. Both are not to be taken too seriously, though if I had to make a choice, I’d go with the shamelessly elitist version every time. At least they are honest to themselves, and as the Christmas article shows, are so utterly out of touch with reality that it actually becomes oddly entertaining.