May 23, 2010

Favorite Magazines Part UNO

I tend to get a lot of emails or comments asking about my favorite magazines, so here begins a series in which I justify my love for some of them, if only so my parents read and see that they're worth the double-digit figures.

Lula this and the kirsten dunst-edited one tie for my favorite issue.
Lula is magic. I expect sparkles to fly up in my face with every page turn. I've always imagined that it is created by a bunch of fairies that live in a tree in a forest. More specifically, this tree. In the forest run off to in Marie Antoinette. These Lula fairies have a lot of teacups and their rooms smell like old books and they use laptops made out of tree bark (don't ask me how that works) to communicate with their pals Karen Elson and the creator of Strawberry Shortcake and other fairies.
Now, to some people, this is a good thing! To others, this sounds like Dave Eggers' rant about Joanna Newsom (who is featured in the most recent issue, actually.) For me, it's in between -- sometimes I finish an issue wanting to frolic in a meadow dressed like a ballerina, and sometimes I finish with the need for something really rough and incongruous and loud. But Lula's occasional trips to the dark side -- be it through an article devoted to angsty teens like Enid Coleslaw or an Alison Mosshart interview -- are closer to my tastes, and its aesthetic is fairy and magic and it always accomplishes this. Tough just isn't its thing, and that's cool, though it'd be nice to once in a while see them describe a woman as a powerful, angry force as opposed to a fragile, sparkling Manic Pixie Dream Girl (Anna touched on this topic here.) Still, unless it's one of my Speak In A Monotone And Give Everyone Death Stares days, I finish an issue inspired. I know I can always go to Lula when I feel creatively inept. And through it I have been exposed to so many independent artists, sculptors, photographers, singers, filmmakers, and more, and I like that this is balanced out with contributions from more well-known forces like Ellen von Unwerth and Lynn Yaeger and features on folks such as Keira Knightly and Mia Farrow. Plus there are very few ads and very few products/projects their interviewees have to promote. It's less like a commercial and more like getting a peek into a vessel of creativity where clothes from luxury houses are used primarily because it looks great in the photo and people like Bud Cort are interviewed just because they're awesome. It comes out twice a year (buy it while you can, as they are a bajillion dollars on eBay months later,) is like a book, and is worth it, in my opinion, as long as you like feeling like you're in a field in a flowing white dress and a boater hat with a bunch of pink cats. If you don't like feeling like this, you will by the tenth page.

Worn
I'm a bit biased as I wrote a book review for the next issue, but I wouldn't have done it if I didn't like the magazine, so there! Here are a few things that might sum up Worn for you:
  • The scarce ads are for things like street style blogs or vintage stores.
  • Articles include topics like toddler gender binary when it comes to pink for little girls and blue for little boys, the history of the Keffiyeh before it became a hipster fixture, how beauty aesthetics were redefined during WWII, interviews with the curators of various fashion museums, and more.
  • The pieces about the histories of different types of things like shoes or collars are very educational. It seems like the kind of thing you just know but I like having it laid out for me all neat and simple and more to-the-point than googling "history of clogs."
  • The fashion editorials contain no seasonal clothes, and range from independent designers to Vivienne Westwood to thrift. One was inspired by Nancy Drew, another opened with a Velvet Underground quote.
Do not, however, be mislead by my telling you of the Velvet Underground references and indie-ness. Do not mistake its "DIY" tone for an "indier than thou" one. What with the We're Using These Clothes Because We Like Them And Not Because We're Being Paid To spirit, articles that consider the social commentary of fashion from a feminist viewpoint, and the general outlook on fashion as something fun and creative and important and interesting and not glamorous or exclusive, Worn is very sincere and very enjoyable. Four gold stars, fine holiday fun! (I wanted to insert the respective Clueless gif here, but when I googled "clueless gifs," all I found was a blog that said "WHY CAN'T I FIND ANY CLUELESS GIFS??!!?!")

RUSSH
Russh is way, way up there for me. It just feels like me, ya know? Lula puts me in a fairy world, Vogue Paris puts me in a glamorous one, and Russh is just me in my bedroom. Each issue is like a moodboard, be it about a general idea like "experiment with everything" or a more visual thing, like neon/90's/Proenza Spring 2010. Among their interviews with designers and models are people either very outside of fashion (John Waters) or so inside fashion that they're behind the scenes and we don't know about them (set designers.) In other ways -- moodboard collages that include Michel Gondry stills, Marisa Meltzer's list of top 10 songs she listened to alone in her room as a 90's teen, fashion stories inspired by the movie Badlands -- Russh ties in other forms of art with fashion, but with a voice that feels sincere. I feel like all the film references and flash photography of models against a plain white wall could make the magazine really pretentious, but it isn't. For one, the references are always relevant, not like "LET ME GIVE YOU A SPIKE JONZE STILL FOR MY INDIE CRED," and more "this Spike Jonze still works really well with the mood, and we just want to appreciate and celebrate art." It always makes sure to commend a designer for being a good designer and not for creating the It Shoe each season. The layout isn't so minimalist that it feels inaccessible; there is just enough personality to it. Vintage is mixed with high-end labels in the editorials. And Lesley Arfin's column adds the Talking To Your BFF quality. Still, I'm waiting for Russh to get a little nasty. Surely the person you just interviewed wasn't that nice! (Maybe I am just a cynic.) And they just had a story about investment pieces, which made my brow bunch up into a furrowed caterpillar (I wonder if people buy those articles?) Russh comes out every two months and is I think about 17 US bucks. It sounds narcissistic to say it's worth every cent after having said that it feels like me, but lucky for you, it doesn't talk as much as me, especially in this post.