Vogue is in my top five glossy magazines, and the one I always read first. It's usually ahead of the game, but I couldn't help but notice this month's January issue (published Dec 2016) has especially nailed it, and here's five reasons why.
1.) Having Ashley Graham on the cover
Watching the BBC documentary about Vogue's headquarters last month was a major eye-opener. The documentary maker was pretty awful, conducting half-hearted interviews with people and lazily projecting his assumptions about the superficiality of fashion people. He got well and truly played by editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman as she staged fake meetings and kept him in the dark over the big reveal of Kate Middleton being on the 100th anniversary front cover. It was priceless. However, we got an interesting insight into how little feedback Shulman takes from her team; they all didn't like a Kate Moss photo in which one leg appeared to be fat, but Shulman loved it. She also had a weird thought about making cover photos look like Instagram ones, er… no. Just no. It made me think that so many good cover or main story photos don't get included because the editor is trying to stay edgy. I can understand why there's that pressure when the internet is repeatedly crushing print media, sometimes to death, but at times in this documentary Alexandra's decisions appeared to be at the expense of solid fashion photography. I was surprised and delighted to see Ashley Graham on the cover, and it's made me love Shulman all over again. I don't think it's tokenistic, or an attempt to butter up the younger, digital crowd. It's an effortless, beautiful photo (or one that appears to be), and is symbolic of an artistic decision to have their first plus-sized cover model without cynical fanfare.
2.) They're bringing us stories of actually inspiring women
I don't mind interviews with film stars and pop stars, in Vogue they're always well written, and usually have great accompanying images. But it can get a bit samey, and you know that they're just promoting their latest work, they're never going to reveal much in a PR exercise. I liked how this month we got Eva Carneiro, looking like a locker-room goddess, but also having an immense, and real-life story. She's the sports medic who took Chelsea FC to court over unfair dismissal and won. Everything about this tale brims with ambition, self-belief and bravery.
3.) They're keeping it real without sacrificing fashion
A lot of glossy magazines have tried to stay relatable in these austere times by including more high street fashion. With thousands of style blogs and digital fashion mags styling outfits that are more easily accessible for people to see, you'd think that people would only want high fashion from their monthly magazines, but Vogue has bridged the gap between the aspirational and the realistic, and shows the others how it's done. This shoot is all about casual fashion, mixing designer with high street, in a one hundred percent high-fashion shoot. Nailed it.
4.) They have an article on vegan makeup
Surely a high end magazine must have written about vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics before? I can't recall any of note, but I'm mightily impressed. I hope more individual vegan items are included in future makeup round-ups, so this article isn't just reinforcing the idea that veganism is a passing trend.
5.) The low-key increase in diversity
Something that was criticised an awful lot on social media after the screening of the BBC documentary, was just how white the Vogue offices are. Not just the women who work there, but also the models they were shortlisting for shoots, and the celebrities they had on the covers and inside the mag. How to come back from these accusations of white-washing? Be more inclusive of course, but not in a self-conscious way that leaves you open to further criticism about lip service and tokenism. Here's a small piece about actor Ruth Negga having impeccable style. Yes, they mention her ethnic origin, but overall I like that this is just a how-to on emulating her look. There needs to be more of this, to reflect real life's diversity, and this issue shows that Vogue is taking strides towards showing different types of bodies and ethnicities, as well as alternative ethical choices – showing that we're not all the same, we want to be included, but we still want fashion and beautiful photography, and we we don't want Vogue to lose it's soul to stay in the game. No Instagram photos, thanks Alexandra. Don't do it.
Getting a subscription to a great magazine like Vogue is a brilliant way to save money on the cover price, and have it delivered to your door earlier than it hits the shelves each month. If you regularly read a particular title, you'd be crazy to not save money on it. Magazine.co.uk kindly gave me a year's subscription to Vogue, and it's been the best thing to get something I love so much sent to me before it's in the shops. It also makes a great Christmas gift for someone – check out their titles and deals here.