One moment Madison is giving me an existential heart attack, the next I’m having an epiphany or crushing on George Clooney and cute spring fashion. What a mercurial reflection on womanhood this magazine weaves!
The cover… Anne Hathaway is an interesting cover proposition, which makes more sense when you consider that she is the face of Lancome’s new fragrance, Magnifique – advertised inside! In fact, it’s Madison’s beauty director, Stephanie Darling, who is sent to interview the starlet for the four-page cover story, which appears in the beauty section and covers such territory as: ‘what was your first fragrance?’ (Love’s Baby Soft by Dana), ‘who do you think the fragrance will appeal to?’ (women and men folk) and ‘what beauty products would you want on a desert island?’ (“anything with SPF60… a self-tanner… Smith’s Rosebud Salve”).
I know she is everywhere right now (she looks le smoking hot on the cover of Entertainment Weekly), thanks in part to her film releases but mostly because of her ex-boyfriend, but her face to me is quite generic: as in, who is this pretty ‘smart’ girl-next-door? She could be Sandra Bullock or Emmy Rossum or Hilary Swank or Jennifer Garner or even Liv Tyler – a close-up shot like this does little to distinguish the brunette beauty from her contemporaries. She is a gorgeous, articulate girl, respectable role model and has mastered the art of self-deprecation (the antithesis of Paris Hilton), yet she still fails to elicit any more than a passing interest in me (and this is the star of The Devil Wears Prada – sacrilege!).
The cover colours are also a little autumnal for my liking – hello, spring has sprung! Anne’s photograph was taken by the same photographer (Craig McDean) who shot Rachel Weisz (another brunette Anne-a-like!) for October US Vogue.
The ed. says… Paula opens up about her ‘thrisis’ (i.e. the 30-something crisis referred to on the cover), a neologism created to describe the existential dilemmas of women in their 30s who don’t qualify for a teen, quarter-life or mid-life. It seems everyone is experiencing some sort of crisis (why is it so – methinks we are lacking harmony: mind, body, spirit, while many women are also torn between traditional feminine roles and post-feminist expectations). Paula is always prepared to share her own experiences with readers – if this woman, a shining example of glossy perfectionism has experienced adversity, we can rest assured we are not alone in our angst: “I was trying to figure out how to be a mother, wife and editor without feeling utterly guilty about how badly I was handling each role,” she writes, “like a power board with too many plugs in it, I overloaded and one day the power just turned off.”
The story lineup:
• Male columnist Dan Rookwood is M.I.A this month. Perhaps his own existential crisis got the better of him?
• I am skipping over the trashy crime ‘who dunnit?’ report, ‘Dead Calm’ and ‘Nip-tuck Nuptials’ (wives as human billboards for their husband’s surgical work!), for the same reason I avoid the horror and porn sections in the DVD store. Life is too short. What value do these stories add to our lives? If only we could edit out the parts of magazines we don’t enjoy like TiVo.
• David Smiedt is a clever writer plugged into the Zeitgeist who always offers concise and well-rounded insights into socio-cultural trends. This month he tackles the ‘me’ generation in ‘It’s all about you: has the me culture gone too far?’. Of course, the answer is yes. As a blogger, I find I’m quite sensitive to stories that lump all web-based writers into the same narcissistic basket (I’m no Tila Tequila and use Facebook reluctantly), but found myself nodding in agreement with many of Smiedt’s assertions. He writes: “the desire to have one’s name and face recognised by the maximum number of people seems to drive a startlingly large proportion of the affluent Western world… those who not only believe their views are important enough to share with the world but also maintain that they will find an audience of eager consumers”.
In addition to this ego-centricity, I believe Aussies also have an inherent issue with queue jumpers, which is what many reality TV stars, YouTubers and bloggers are, essentially – like Paris Hilton, they are skipping the hard yards and gaining fame (or infamy) via Google searches or sheer luck (often blindingly unaware of the repercussions – there is no Going Public For Egotistic Dummies book). Forget futile attempts at having your book published, having your screenplay rejected, attending umpteen studio auditions, working your way up the media ranks or working the club/pub circuit in the hope that someone, somewhere will hear your music and offer you a record deal: fast-tracking your career trajectory via the internet express is where it’s at. Of course, lacking in credibility, experience and, arguably, brains, most will get their 15 minutes then disappear into obscurity when the next big thing comes along. In this culture, people are as disposable as nappies.
• Poor Jennifer Aniston is the poster girl for just about any Gen-X/female shortcoming we can think of. Former Cosmopolitan editor Sarah Wilson also delves into existentialism via ‘Help, I’m having a thrisis’, using her own experience as her starting point. Wilson writes: “I was diagnosed with a web of auto-immune conditions best summed up by my specialist, who said, ‘You’ve been driving at 130km an hour in first gear’… And so I quit my job and spent the next six months on a bumpy road to wellness… I’d never felt so free.’ Wilson believes the thrisis is unique to the women of Gen X – a generation that has led accelerated lives: “Speaking to many thirty-somethings for this story, I observed a generation hankering for these less complicated, more organic times.” There is hope in Wilson’s story – she has found women who have found a better life for themselves after reaching crisis point. If only we didn’t have to arrive at that place first! Flip over a page and you’ll find an Olay ad declaring “Fight what ages you most”. I’d suggest that would be angst!
• This month’s ‘Eye Candy’ is George Clooney, interviewed by A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs has gone for an interesting angle, surfing the internet with Clooney to get his opinion on what’s said about him (“a sort of This Is Your Virtual Life”). This technique lends itself to a candid profile piece – the ideal way to covey Clooney’s style of boy-humour on the page. First stop is Wikipedia, followed by IMDb, Facebook, celebrity sites, newspaper sites and celebpolitics.com. The girlfriend checklist is particularly interesting – did he date Renee Zellweger? “A little bit”.
• Chloe Quigley and Daniel Pollock’s fashion and weather-obsessed alter ego Michi Girl and her new book lead into the Entertainment section (as it does in Vogue): “a distinctly Australian eye to the concept of personal style,” writes Madison. Wendy Squires writes ‘When crass was king’, in reference to the ‘Ozploitation’ genre of Australian cinema (think blood, violence and sex).
• The travel section gives us ‘Eat, Stay, Love’ via Bangkok, Stockholm and London, while psychologist Sarah Gibson is given a page to rant about her single-girl status in ‘Sex and the Pity’.
• You won’t be feeling self-pity after you read the three breast cancer stories in ‘What I know now…’. (Key to happiness = appreciate what you have right now; get some perspective!)
I have just has an existential epiphany – I narcissistically gravitate towards stories from which I can learn something about myself – even if gleaned through the experience of others! Typical Gen Y-er. I’m such a cliché!
• Madison fashion is this month advocating prints, thick straps with square/asymmetrical necklines, playsuits, safari style, boho glamour, gladiator sandals, chic leisure wear, tie-dye pieces and flattering underwear.
• Chanel’s Susie Stenmark’s style is up for examination, as also in Vogue.
• The ‘dress for your shape’ workshop covers the pregnant, tall, petite, curvy and athletic to nice effect. All the women are, of course, in proportion, which makes them ideal 'models': no stumpy legs/big tums; huge boobs/stick legs; flat chest/enormous butt, etc.
• The main fashion spreads include ‘The Starlet’, featuring Pania Rose in ‘60s-style dresses and floral prints; ‘Great Lengths’ (a gorgeous tribute to the maxi dress featuring model Elyse Taylor); ‘Spring Essentials’ (I’m a fan of the Cheap Chic spreads and this one doesn’t disappoint – labels include Dotti, Don’t Ask Amanda, Ben Sherman, Lacoste, Sambag, Something, French Connection, Industries, Diva, One Teaspoon, Sportscraft, Nine West, Country Road, Gorman and Charlie Brown).
• The profile piece on model/TV host Kristy Hinze culminates in a breakout box on the production of the Sportscraft Kristy bag.
• Beauty gives us tanning moisturizers; fat-blasting, cellulite-destroying, thigh-toning products; ‘Can a tan make you look thinner?’; ‘High speed beauty’; and products for your glovebox.
• Loving the Beach Shack ‘Living’ spread, not least because it features Madison’s deputy art director, Carly Townsend, who is gorgeous and girl-crush worthy (she has worked her way from Total Girl to Shop Til You Drop to Madison).
• The issue rounds out with five celebrity-inspired ‘Shopping’ pages and Rachel Ward’s words of wisdom: “I don’t feel comfortable unless I am giving something back”.
Overall excitement factor: 6/7
Feel-good factor: 5
Eye-candy rating: 4
Issue: October 2008
Book size: 292 pages
Cover price: $8.20
FOB ads: Chanel Chance, Dior Iconic mascara, Tiffany & Co., Calvin Klein Jeans, Covergirl Lash Blast, Clinique, Chanel Exceptionnel mascara, Dior Rouge...
Editor: Paula Joye
Publisher: ACP Magazines/PBL Media
Girl With a Satchel