Rarely a week goes by without getting into a friendly debate about fashion and why it's important. And a month doesn't go by without making one of my favorite purchases: Vogue magazine.
In March, A&E Indie Films released director R.J. Cutler's "The September Issue," a documentary that follows Vogue's Editor in Chief Anna Wintour and her staff members, including Creative Director Grace Coddington, while they put together the September 2007 issue - the magazine's biggest issue to date. (If you're unfamiliar with Wintour, Meryl Steep's character in "The Devil Wears Prada" is purportedly based on the famous editor; and Coddington used to be a Vogue model.)
In one of the opening scenes, Wintour acknowledges the fact that many people "mock" fashion, which she attributes to being frightened and intimidated by what some have deemed a frivolous expenditure.
While a pair of Manolo Blahniks is far from being essential to survival, those who appreciate and/or want the shoes do not deserve to be chastised. It's clothes, shoes and accessories that can help convey who you are and make you feel a variety of ways, just like art that's framed and hung in a museum.
Claude Monet and Georges Seurat can make you feel romantic or fanciful, like looking at an Oscar de la Renta or Carolina Herrera dress; while Stewart Davis and Jackson Pollock may envelop thoughts of wildness and modernity, similar to the designs of Tom Ford or Dolce and Gabbana; then there are the classic artists, Raphael, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, in fashion, those could be the timeless equivalent of Chanel and Dior.
There is not a person I know who owns a real painting by one of those artists; and I only know a few who own articles of clothing by some of those designers. For me, it's difficult to not want couture. However, I know it won't happen any time soon, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy and find inspiration from the art and clothing ideas between the pages of Vogue every month.
Vogue caters to various tastes in the art form, thanks in large part to Coddington, evident from the documentary and her credit line on some of the best spreads the magazine has published. Her appreciation of art, fashion, history and photography is conveyed in nearly all the issues, including that 2007 September issue: she re-created the 1920s and shared the decade's clothing with a new generation.
Vogue and Coddington also share with readers fashionable interpretations of famous fairy tales, such as "Beauty and the Beast," "Snow White" and "Hansel and Gretel."
In December 2005, Keira Knightley portrayed a non-gingham pinafore clad Dorothy in Coddington's fashionable rendition of "The Wizard of Oz," which Annie Lebowitz photographed. She's dressed in clothing and shoes by famous designers, yet her wardrobe remains true to Dorothy's midwest farm girl image. It certainly wouldn't have been difficult to find these styles of dresses at your favorite store during that time. The best part is that a number of styles of red shoes were paired with the white dresses.
Instead of mocking the world of fashion, try picking up a copy of Vogue. Even if you can't buy a $5,000 Chanel suit, it's easy to find inspiration from the ideas set forth in its pages and it will help you become a walking art show with your ready-to-wear from local stores. Vogue and other fashion magazines always have great ideas on how to utilize accessories, mix and match colors and various prints and what shoes should go with what dress. Fashion conscious men and youth also have their own versions of the magazine: Men's Vogue and Teen Vogue.
Even though Vogue features high-end clothing and accessories, it brings the world of artful fashion a little closer to those of us who don't live in metropolitan areas.