Worth a Glance

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by Leandra Medine
February 27, 2013
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Garage Magazine’s fourth issue, titled Vanity

The slightly terrifying masked models emblazoned across the cover of Dasha Zhukova’s fourth issue of Garage Magazine intrigued me (where can I get that underwear, really?). But the masks’ slight semblance to Cindy Sherman’s MoMA self portraits and the subsequent assurance that they were in fact such sold me. It wasn’t really until I read the editor letter, though, that I realized something very, very important: the backlash has started. The comments and realizations on Gen. Y and the effect of our technologically cultural environment are getting tired and we (as a collective, I think) are fed up. Zhukova writes,

“Marketing strategy has taken over our personalities and I hate it. Today everyone is in the business of branding themselves, accentuating their most easily grasped and deeply appealing traits. We all have to sell ourselves just to have the right to occupy space in our private and public lives.” She continues, “I am not who I am wearing. I am wearing Me: a bunch of complex and contradictory traits lined up in a body that will age. I a not a brand. I am a multiple of all the Mes inside me. Not memes. Mes. And that goes for you, us, and all of us. It is the return of complex individuality.”

We’ve lost a fundamental sense of true, personal identity and many of us just want it back.

The issue (titled Vanity) features an interview between Tavi Gevinson and Lena Dunham and the work of Juergen Teller and Urs Fischer and a large spread shot by Patrick Demarchelier (cue cover). I’d recommend a perusal, if not because the 250 page, rather artful and liberal portrayal of what the world might be doing to us (and consequently what we are doing to it) is enough in itself than certainly because the interviews are worth a read and there are fun, fashion-centric games to be played toward the end of book. Sometimes it seems the weight of a grave issue is only as digestible as the complimentary fluff behind it. I took some photos (I apologize for how terrible they are–clicking, when unrelated to the keyboard, is not my strongest suit) of my favorite pages as, I don’t know, a testament to my sense of “complex individual,” but it is really worth a read to assess your own.

Another, unrelated thought: when advertisement pages are carefully planned out (see: slide #2) they’re inspiring, nonabrasive and a pleasure to look at. Thoughts? Thoughts? Thoughts? Tell me something interesting.

REPLIES
  • http://twitter.com/looksharpWI Look Sharp Sconnie

    You can get that underwear in my mom’s underwear drawer.

    “accentuating the most easily grasped…traits” – that’s why I like your whole raise-your-readers-up-to-your-level thing. “man repeller” is easy, leandra medine living human being with conflicting thoughts is harder. You force me out of my laziness.

    • http://twitter.com/stylerevival Style Revival

      is it bad that i just want to wear that type of underwear now and really can’t be arsed with anything more brief? *sigh*

  • alcessa

    *sigh* … I started out as a complex (as in: über curious & with manifold interests), yet easy-going (as in: no problem, let’s do this, let’s talk about this, are you sure you’re warm enough, wanna cookies?) human being, never managed to translate myself into a more … self-marketing appropriate version of me (as in: streamlined, with a few chosen accents and no visible upper lip line) and keep getting pushed into the “complicated woman” drawer as a result … *dramatic sigh*
    It might happen for having told “male” jokes (as in: containing the German expression for manure) a few minutes after having explained how I make chocolate cookies and why I study law at my age instead of having kiddies. And stuff.

    Now, I am not of generation Y. But the wish to stuff people into clearly defined frames has always been there, only your generation is often enough the perpetrator and the perpetrated at the same time :-) or so it would seem. And you make your frames visually attractive :-) whereas I am mostly concerned about the verbal ones …

    Anyway, I might try some serious public persona streamlining in the future because “no woman is an island” … :-)

  • http://twitter.com/LocalAndOpulent Lesley O.

    I love all of your essays – they are beautifully written and insightful.

    A new outfit post is up on Local & Opulent – a nod to the 70s.

    http://localandopulent.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/276/

  • Hannah Lou

    I admire you Leandra. You have seamlessly combined two of my favorite things, intellect and fashion (including and not limited to: style, culture, individuality).

    I am a 20 year old who is also fed up (so to speak). I am not on Facebook, I have a Twitter account but I utilise it only to follow and not to tweet. Texting has quickly become my biggest enemy. Blogs are great. I am by no means a boycotter but if anything, I am intimidated. My point? I feel as if it has become harder and harder to personally identify ones self. For the easily swayed, feeling lost in the limitless definitions our culture has and continues to push can be overwhelming. On the other hand, it is a fine line. The plethora of inspiring information I have encountered through technology has helped me to understand some of what I want, like, endorse, etc. It can go both ways I suppose.

  • thefloodmansion

    I think we’re all in agreement that once something (art, personal style, a website) is monetized it changes profoundly. Is Zhukova’s magazine free? My point being–this is a very fine and difficult line to walk, especially as it relates to taste, but nothing in this world is exempt from this rule.

  • monkeyshines

    gorgeous styling!

    monkeyshines
    http://monkeyshines-monkeyshines.blogspot.com/

  • sunshine

    eventually, people just wont care about what someone is wearing and nobody will judge me for really really really wanting to wear sneakers every single day during the winter and havaianas during the summer….

  • Ivana Džidić

    There may be something in that….today everyone is advertising themselves. It’s like selling something that hasn’t been perfected or finished yet…like looking at an unfinished master piece…. It can spoil everything and take of our life…or it may help build ourselves…tricky like everything in life.

  • the_jul

    wow, need to read that mykki blanco conversation immediately!

  • http://www.farandwildjewelry.blogspot.com/ abigail lind

    i think so much of the backlash is unwarranted. on a very basic level it’s simple evolution and we’re just going with the flow and trying to adapt to an ever more technologically saturated enviornment. no one gave neanderthals shit and accused them of abandonment of self when they were through with cave dwelling. in the best case scenarios, this blog being a prime example, the fight for the right to occupy space can foster a complex and extremely unique individuality.

    abigail
    http://www.farandwildjewelry.blogspot.com

    • Leandra Medine

      this is also arguably an experience every single generation goes through. we’re (i’m?) just really loud about it

      • http://www.farandwildjewelry.blogspot.com/ abigail lind

        we’re totally the shout it from the rooftops generation. i think we also have the sort of unique experience of having older generations still active and able to make more sense of technological advancements, which they then use to chastise us for being obsessed with technology. #parentsjustdontunderstand.

  • Bonnie, Clyde + Marni

    I need to read this!!
    http://www.bonnieclydemarni.com/

  • http://www.fashionsnag.com/ Fashion Snag

    My mom has some underwear like that!

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • Alina

    Edit: I don’t want to nitpick, but… His name is Urs Fischer, dear. He really doesn’t deserve “Uri”…

    • Leandra Medine

      fuck–total typo. thanks.

  • neoluddite

    To note- some of us HAVE REMAINED complex individuals: no facebook, no twitter, no instagram etc. I manage my way through life with a “dumb” phone, paper books, and film cameras. It’s great to be informed and read these sort of magazines- but also important to start changing your lifestyle if you feel like its changing you OR the world for the worse. I absolutely hate being in a room of friends and none of them interested in the present moment unless they can take a instagram-worthy photo. What happened to real connection and LIVING life instead of passively showing everyone else what’s going on around you without participating yourself?

    • Will Code For Clothes

      That’s amazing that you haven’t been sucked in! Congrats!
      I feel like every social media outlet is not only to “communicate” with people, but to brand yourself, as Leandra said, and promote what you’re doing with your life.

      http://willcodeforclothes.com

    • Jessica

      I don’t think people who frequently use the internet should be written off as wholly non-complex. Not everyone who partakes in the sport of web-surfing is immediately cut off from the outside world, or “not living.” Don’t lump us all together, BRAH. But I agree that everyone should unplug once in a while, and that IAA [internet addicts anon] is most definitely in our future.

    • http://sriaria.blogspot.com/ Angela A. Medina

      Ouch! Its a skill to navigate social media elegantly. I can’t say that I have struck a balance between the digital-social and the AFK-social, but I am still trying: my first tweet, a matter of weeks ago, was prompted by my desire to talk to others about Girls. I feel like am the only person in a 30 mile radius (Santa Cruz, CA) who could give a shit about the show and the issues and emotions it invokes.

      Perhaps its a step backwards to make the two worlds more separate…

    • alberta

      I could not have said this in better words, this is how i feel every time I go out and get bombarded with photos. The fact that there is a tab to share this comment on facebook right near it is ironic, but thats what this generation has come to.

  • http://twitter.com/MoiContreLaVie Caity

    Can’t wait to read this. I can understand the “backlash” as you’ve said but I want to read the whole issue before commenting further. LOVE the cover!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rafael.srur Rafael Srur

    hey, love you! had to say it first. never commented on your site, first time! I can’t see the price in pounds, I’m brazilian but I have a friend coming from London, I hate to ask this, but believe me, it’s so hard to find the price on google and I can find anything! so would you be kind and tell me price? because if t’s cheap, I won’t be ashamed to ask her as a gift (we’re very close friends) thanks “a bunch” (is it a uk thing, or is it irish, beacuse I lived for a while in Dubln and they used to talk lke this…

  • just Elise

    There’s this quote by Thaddeus Russell, an unconventional history professor and author, that I found funny several years ago and figure it sort of relevant to this topic. He writes:
    “There are now many historians who study popular culture, lowbrow entertainment, and the people of the streets, but I am always dismayed to find that they treat every saloon,
    high-heel shoe, or rock song as something else. If they are sympathetic to the
    people who consumed them, such things are remade into ‘resistance’ against
    oppression or ‘collective alternatives’ to capitalist individualism. God forbid
    they could be simply and only ‘fun.’”

    Elaborate on it as you will, I just thought some of you like-minded people might enjoy.

  • Jenelephant Acewell

    I read this just after reading another article you shared today, ‘Why Do Women Hate Anne Hathaway (But Love Jennifer Lawrence)? [http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/02/why-do-women-hate-hathaway-but-love-lawrence.html]. Your comments seem to really mesh with what we’re seeing culturally – there’s something off-putting and that a lot of women want to reject about Anne Hathaway’s “contrived…always on point…calculated” persona (though it may be completely understandable given the artificial and weird environment celebrities live in!), and embrace about Jennifer Lawrence’s apparent lack of façade. The authenticity – bars down – is immediately so appealing and refreshing and tangible.

  • Anna Safronova
  • jottergirl

    This is a really interesting and creative magazine. Too bad they don’t have a place on their site to order a subscription….or at least I couldn’t find it.

  • http://twitter.com/selenaaponte Selena Aponte

    Demarchelier’s level of androgyny and anonymity behind the photography he produces allow the reader/viewer to be the creator of who the character is. This maintains the artistic integrity of the clothing whilst labeling his mastery of the illusion. Genius. I admire his work. The entire layout of the magazine functions cohesively. As a Behavioral Neuroscience major, I have learned that advertisers/publishers use many of these visual anomalies of sorts to keep the reader engaged. And although this publication appeals to a skewed demographic, it’s delightful on the eye, as well as thought provoking in theory. Glad you wrote a piece on a black sheep of high fashion publications.

  • http://vickiarcher.com/ Vicki Archer

    I completely agree with Zhukova, No-one is seen as an individual these days, so many have lost their identity. I will definitely be reading the whole issue…it sounds so interesting. P.S. I love that underwear…xv

    http://vickarcher.com

  • Tsui Annie
  • Caroline

    I am especially drawn to the statement: “accentuating their most easily grasped and deeply appealing traits.” I write this after taking a scroll through my Instagram feed and seeing yet another picture of some person’s drink they just ordered in a bar, following the picture of someone’s L.L. Bean boots, followed by someone’s Starbuck’s drink, followed by a bird’s eye view of someone’s outfit (which consists of a striped shirt, skinny jeans, some bejeweled necklace and flats). Come on now! I want art! I want collages! I want thought provoking pieces (and I don’t mean the one that says, “Believe in the good” written in comic sans). I AM talking the “Happiness here!” with the commentary that you provide.

    The photos of the drinks, the jeans, the boots, I feel, are ways to showcase one’s self as a brand- in the most easily grasped and deeply appealing ways. Now I wonder, who are these traits appealing to? Themselves? To others. Yes, that cocktail looks good and I bet that coffee tastes great but how are you advancing your own intellect as well as your fellow humans by showcasing yourself as a brand using images? Furthermore, what the hell is behind that brand? What goes on behind the Instagram filter of your choice? Surely a tornado of conflicting thoughts about who you/we/I/ are/want to be.

    I may have totally just digressed off the point of your post completely but…it’s what I was thinking.

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    Ads can most certainly be a contribution to any platform or publication. They can be little editorials within themselves. Just look at the Céline ones with Daria: they’re better than many unadvertised content I’ve seen in a creative publication in a while. It must be Daria’s hair. God almighty….her locks are priceless.

  • http://sriaria.blogspot.com/ Angela A. Medina

    What if action is the opposite of not only thought, but also vision (sight/seeing/looking). Advertising is a fucked up venture, reaching through your eye sockets to squeeze your brain. Advertising the self is perhaps at once something all life forms do once they get past asexual reproduction, and also a painfully self-conscious result of some absurd biofeedback in today’s cultural circus. We can’t not do it, is what I’m saying. But–and this is where action vs. vision comes into play–ask yourself how many times you’ve put on some Balenciaga Fall 2010 heeled loafers to bleach the toilet. Perhaps its not about juxtaposing intellect, ego, and advertising, but action and advertising. Thinking just happens. You have to work to take action, and as a result, it becomes who you are more genuinely.

  • http://ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com/ Lydia Teo

    Really like the Dolce and Gabbana spread, they have the best ad campaigns in my opinion, as well as Tommy Hilfiger. This particular one caught my eye while reading the latest issue of Vogue! The cover of Garage is indeed slightly terrifying, though the story behind it is certainly interesting, and true.

    ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com

  • Megan

    It’s interesting to see how social media has helped and hindered me. On one hand, being a public relations major has taught me how to use social media for clients and has helped me pay rent. I use it for my own blog as well. But its seems to have reached a plateau, and more often than not the clients want me to do it for them because it is seen as dirty work. Will my major lead to a life of tweeting back and forth to customers complaining about a product? I wish the story-telling romanticism of being connected on the Internet was still relevant.

  • http://thecornerapartment.com/ Elizabeth @ TheCornerApartment

    I love that they incorporated Cindy Sherman into all of this. Branding is something I’ve even learned in journalism classes at my university, and seems both daunting and unnecessary. I only want to be myself.

    Elizabeth

  • The writer
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