By Kim Thore
I really shouldn’t be surprised—nothing is sacred anymore. I’ve watched certain staples go by the way side one by one—I’ve seen people wear jeans to Tea at the O’Henry, Uggs with everything, and I am clearly the only person on the planet still writing thank you notes.
However, today when the headline swept up on my computer screen showing Kanye West and Kim Kardashian on the cover of Vogue, I realized that indeed an era has truly ended, the fashion bible has been thrown on the fire of mediocrity, and one of the most uncompromising individuals in the fashion world has apparently decided to shop the bargain racks at Wal Mart where average is the style du jour.
I’m sure most people could not care less, but when you care about fashion like I do, trends and dressing as an art form, there are a few things that are constants—things that one should be able to count on. I like to believe that Tiffany’s will never change from robin’s egg blue boxes, Burberry will always make luscious trench coats and breakfast will always be served at Oscar’s on Park Avenue…and at Tiffany’s when TCM runs a Hepburn marathon.
When it comes to fashion, Vogue has always been the main accessory, and for a young girl growing up in Winston-Salem its pages always held a fascination for me, because from an early age I have always loved clothes . This is perhaps best demonstrated by a picture taken of me in third grade with a zippered turtleneck. I am posing with my hand on my hip, and the zipper looks like it was sewn on by a monkey—in an effort to be different and add some edge to my “look,” I had turned my sweater around backwards..not a good look but I was trying.
I remember going through my Mom’s closet and trying on her crocodile pumps when she wasn’t looking and running my hands over mohair sweaters she had bought in Italy. My mother was tall and thin and despite our lack of economic means she knew how to dress well. Back in the day she had worked at Thalhimer’s and shopped at Nitsa’s and Montaldo’s.
My first job was in retail and my first modeling assignment was for a Vintage Clothing store in Chapel Hill. I wore a 1940’s wool and fur collar coat, earrings the size of saucers and my accessory was a 1950’s briefcase with a vintage issue of Vogue tucked into the side pocket. Whenever I look at that photo I am reminded that it was my idea to add the magazine.
I even remember my first designer purchase. It was a gorgeous scarf I found in Paris that I had seen countless women wearing in fabulous street style—it has since been lost but I adored that big scarf and wore it like a mink stole. I also remember my first luxury item..a cream silk crossover blouse , that took two paychecks and my employee discount to get from the Regency room at Belk. I remember bringing it home and my mother couldn’t hide her approval..she smiled and ran her fingers over it as if it were gossamer. Little did I know that she would die two years later when I was in college, but my last gift to her was that blouse- she was buried in it….I made sure she was stylish to the end.
Vogue always stood for something. It has launched careers, trends and even though its editor has sometimes stolen a bit of its spotlight, it still was, well, “vogue”- in the true sense of the word…a place to find ” the prevailing fashion or style at a particular time.”
The cover of Vogue is considered a crowning achievement—and with few exceptions the person peering back at me has been someone I could admire. Granted, March 2011 wasn’t exactly a slam dunk—Lady Gaga is the epitome of w.o.p.- weird on purpose—but until her recent SXSW headline grab—even she made sense in a world where Galliano is a go-to— at least she has a decent business sense and a real job. Somebody has to sell crazy, right?
Anna Wintour may have been the editor to change the direction of Vogue covers by using celebrities instead of only models, but the Masthead might as well now be changed to In Touch or People if a third rate, obsequious rapper and an equally vapid reality tv show starlet are featured as an iconic duo who have contributed something to the world other than selfies and boorish behavior. I could get it –maybe – just maybe – if one or the other were a true fashion icon or even had talent. The last time I checked, reverb, delay and auto tune does not a singer make and proving your butt is real through x-rays is the epitome of banality.
So maybe-just maybe, it was all a mistake? Perhaps, Wintour tripped on a Loubatin and banged her head? Vogue used to be cashmere –now it wears like polyester…and apparently the Devil doesn’t wear Prada after all—apparently she wears an in ear mic and a see-through blouse.
Let’s cut to the chase—despite Ms. Wintour’s protests, what this really means is money can buy you fame, a spot in the magazine rack, and enough false eyelashes to last you until doomsday. It can buy you Vogue, and I always liked to believe that somehow the cover wasn’t on the selling block. Maybe that was naïve of me but I held on to it anyway.
It’s no surprise that Wintour has already defended her choice but it sounds rather implausible to me.
“As for the cover, my opinion is that it is both charming and touching, and it was, I should add, entirely our idea to do it; you may have read that Kanye begged me to put his fiancée on Vogue’s cover. He did nothing of the sort,” Wintour, also the creative director of Conde Nast, wrote:
“Kanye is an amazing performer and cultural provocateur, while Kim, through her strength of character, has created a place for herself in the glare of the world’s spotlight, and it takes real guts to do that.”
So Anna, I have this to say to you—
“As for the cover, my opinion is that it is both disappointing and nauseating, and it was I should add , entirely not your idea to do it—it was the subjects’, and the pressure to move product–yes we did read that Kanye begged you to put his fiancee on the cover –as a man who thinks it’s ok to interrupt people’s acceptance speeches, and believes his own hype that’s to be expected. Kanye is nowhere near an amazing performer and did you actually type the words : cultural provacateur? Well, yes if we use the real definition, he is a person who provokes trouble, causes dissension, or the like – and this is what you want to promote? Kim has strength of character? No, she has a sex tape and a stage mom, who created the glare of the spotlight—it doesn’t take guts to do that, it takes a camera crew, good lighting and a publicist. She is famous for being famous—hell even her stepfather is buckling under that world and shaving off his adam apple and growing his hair out in a bob. So Anna, let’s not call sweat pants business casual and why don’t we just stay away from adding any kind of false legitimacy to one of the most self-involved, irritating couples to roam this planet. You can’t recover easily from this –just like an Ed Hardy tee shirt, it burns your retinas. I’ve been a faithful reader for over 20 years but consider my subscription canceled.
“You made something beautiful tacky and tasteless and when you said ‘Commercial is not a dirty word to me,’ apparently you really meant it.”