You may call it differently than I. In this year’s September Vogue, I see a melding of time(s).
Time and space is carried in the body, over the body. We map periods and cultures, etch zones and expanses over and onto who we are. In a time and place where so much is shifting, and not in the direction that many of us are in league with, reflecting on who we are, who we’ve been and where we want to go—rather than where we are going—is of prime importance.
It is as if the plates are shifting again. Vogue, in a way, agrees with me. In designing the upcoming issue, Anna Wintour writes, “In all my time editing Vogue, this period is like no other I’ve experienced before, and for good reason: If fashion is radically different, it is because our world is so radically different.” .
Fashion is about change. So what could Wintour be getting at? Sensing?
I believe, it is a question of sense—meaning. What is fashion doing right now? And for whom? With so much of our attention being siphoned to news stories that give visibility to a tiny elite, what we turn our attention to matters. Turning our attention to fashion might provide a counterbalance. At a time when there is a focus on the provincial. Vogue is asking us to look globally.
Beyoncé dons this year’s cover of September Vogue. Beyoncé underwrites culture, what is fashionable, what is current—as much as she is written onto. She pushes back as much as she is pushed onto: Anna Wintour writes, “Her fame redefines what it means to have global presence; it’s the way she uses that status to challenge herself—and us, too. She consistently pushes aside notions of what is means to be a universally renowned musician” .
That sense of challenge that Beyoncé presents is akin to the same sense of challenge that editors and tastemakers are honing in order to articulate—the “now” of now. How fashion is meditating the Trumpism of media, how fashion is mediating the Trump brand is the story.
“We share a growing sense of global citizenship and kinship not to mention how so many of us are increasingly looking far and wide for labels to better enhance our sense of personal style,” Wintour notes.
While Trump campaigned on building an enormous wall along Mexico’s border and now is talking about imposing tariffs on Canadian products, for the September issue of Vogue, Creative Digital Director Sally Singer coined the phrase “fashion without borders.”
Here’s how I see #VogueSeptember: “Peek-a-boo Baroque,” Nature Taper, T-shirt Chic.
The September issue of Vogue is the pinnacle statement making for the fashion magazine each year. It is notable that in the “Letter from the Editor,” the following phrases appear: “challenging the status quo” and “drawing our attention to society’s imbalances and injustices;” or statement appear like: “our current politicians” seem intent on maintaining business as usual “or, worse, taking us backward” .
I, too, share the same sentiment as the folks over at Vogue. Yet, there is a slight difference in articulation I would like to make around the notion of a borderless society: Nature naturally has borders. They are called mountains, ice caps, rivers, valleys and deserts. It is not the bounds that make the discrimination we bemoan, per se, but discriminatory practice within them—how we do what we do where we are and with what we have.
While rethinking our boundaries may be in the right sentiment, moving too far away from the structural genius that nature already provides, that nature already affords us, misses the point about the usefulness of boundaries. Think about it: counterbalancing the Trumpism of the media is a kind of bordering itself. Borders matter.
Anna Wintour asks us, the readers, what this year’s September Vogue celebrates: Well, it’s a celebration of a check on excess by what was often thought of as excess: Fashion.
So, if Ms. Wintour is “looking far and wide for labels to better enhance our sense of personal style,” in answer, to wit I respond: there is no place like home. Meaning America is so diverse, our closets must be, too. We have all we need and then some within our own borders.
With so many cultures bumping and intermixing, our style and sense of self has to have also been shifting in league. I call for a “do it with what you got” fashion for this coming fall. Dress in the style of Vogue September with what you have in your own closets and/or with what you can afford in your wallets. Let’s call is #doitfashion, for short.
#DoItFashion in my mind is about getting in the game with whatever you got—in your closet, in your wallet, whatever size, shape or color you are—and doing September Vogue the way you see it. Why? Because we tell ourselves to wait until we have everything perfect, until we get that promotion, until we get that big paycheck before we start to live, before we become the fashionable selves in our heads. Why wait? Do it with what you got.
What I am saying is that it's about getting on the runway of your life & making a presence. Do it with whatever you got in response to all of the changes that we see in our lives and in the country. Vote with your autumn boots.
Asymmetry not symmetry is the aesthetic of high fashion. It is how a heterogeneity of differences creates a sense of appeal—desirability. That’s the America I want. That is the America I was promised.
Here’s how I see #VogueSeptember: “Peek-a-boo Baroque,” Nature Taper, T-shirt Chic.
For me, the look of the fall is Renaissance meets modern, extravagance meets nature, bordering the casualness of the t-shirts—the ones we all have with the logos we’re often embarrassed to wear but keep anyway for sentimental value. (See the full length of my Vogue September selections below—& forgive me Vogue for my grainy cellphone photos!)
In the issue you will see an homage to nature, yes, in the floral prints and verdant forest backdrops. Look again and you’ll also see a nod not only to flora but fauna: Big cats, horses and birds. There are armored carousel horses, metal rings, gold buttons and Romanesque coinage. You’ll see billowy sleeves, ruffled collars, long and plush skits and sprawling and puffy jackets. You’ll see even 17th Century nuns, knights and jesters, the whole court of them, mixed in with high-rise cityscapes and people waiting to hop on buses. There is duality everywhere: The bags are faux fur and golden gaudy; the jewelry leaf-shaped and sleek; the fragrance Woman; the shoes pointy-heeled and sneaker chic. It is nature, it’s now as neo-classic.
The colors: Mustard Yellow & Powder Blue (Early Fall) à Taupe Brown & Royal Blue (Mid-Fall)à Orange Red & Burgundy (Late Fall). It is seasonal for me. Coming off the summer, you’ll see the deepening yellow—the harvest moon is met by a still-powdery sky. As the leaves turn their shade of brown, we move a little farther away from the sun, a royal darkening in atmosphere. Then, the autumnal deepens into the regality of winter, the browning that becomes purple red.
I understand that there are many “designers in [Vogue’s] portfolio who are increasingly opting to abandon seasons in favor of continual deliveries of new collections” . I understand that some designers would like to move beyond the seasonal. Yet, I say celebrate the calendar—for, as much as we attempt, we cannot escape time and space. It is what we do with it, on it that defines us—makes us gorgeous.
The notion that to broaden in diversity one has to lose borders, to me, misunderstands the brilliance of nature. Instead of getting rid of boundaries, can we rethink how we interact with them? For example, can we respect the ways of being in a country, of a people? How in time and space have they come to be? The how of their design? How can we articulate who we are and respect the rights of others to be who they are? I defend your right to be fabulous as you defend my right to be fabulous, in the here and now. Caps and counterbalances, instead, can be thought of as the way one article of clothing compliments and comments on another. Mix and match. Pattern block. Accent. It's about delimitation and finding the fabulous where you are.
Anna Wintour’s closing words, in the September issue, it seems addresses the fashion community directly, “After all, if we we’re going to record a changed world, we should reflect that world” . After a global call, in the magazine and on social media, for how a broadening of and a diversity in perspectives could inform the magazine, Ms. Wintour acknowledges that the fashion world reflects our world.
May I add in acknowledging: I commend Vogue’s decision to place a minimum bar on the models they accept (18 & older). Not removing their complicity in working with underage girls in the past, Vogue is now taking a principled stance in order to be in league with an international push to do what writer Maya Singer terms as “working with young women of voting age. Vogue is talking the talk, and walking the walk on setting standards for a new way operating—on the catwalk, of course.
Above photos source: September 2018 Vogue