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Àli Mode: Flashback to a More Affordable Seventeen

Is this the end of an era for tweens? Yesterday AdWeek published a blurb about the news that Seventeen magazine is eschewing its seven-decades-old teen-budget-friendly mission in favor of adding upscale luxury items to its style guide. Starting next month, items like $400 Marc Jacobs wedges and $400 Coach purses will be paired with $6 Hue socks and other items under $50. Editor Ann Shoket assures that no items will exceed the $500 mark—I’m sure all the tween readers who don’t live in Beverly Hills and the Upper East Side are breathing sighs of relief.

Listen: I’ve never been a huge champion of Seventeen. Like many girls I discovered it when I was about 12 and outgrew it by 14 when it suddenly seemed incredibly dorky next to my Harper’s Bazaar and Mirabella magazines. And yet this news has been eating away at me since I read it. Seventeen is definitely goofy, and while I wouldn’t call it a “safe haven” for girls—it is depressingly rife with reinforcements of negative stereotypes—at least it has generally provided affordable, cute looks styled in ways young girls can emulate. Or has it? The truth is, I haven’t really looked at a Seventeen magazine in at least 20 years. So I decided to see what was on newsstands and compare it to the issues I have at home: A full year’s worth from 1991. (Why do I have a year of Seventeen? Because I buy a lot of my magazines from library sales, and nabbed a bound book of the things for something like $3. You should shop these sales, too, as it supports your awesome local library system, and vintage magazines can be hilariously retro—such as Seventeen, circa 1991—or drop-dead chic—Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, circa anytime pre-1970). Read More »

Great Magazine Covers: Sonia Delaunay


This illustration from January 1926 is one of my favorite vintage Vogue covers, mostly because it features one of my favorite overlooked artists, Sonia Delaunay. (I’m also especially fond of the charmingly awkward style of famed illustrator Georges Lepape.) This isn’t to say Delaunay was ignored during her lifetime; she had a solo exhibition at the Louvre in 1964, a first for a living female artist, and here she is on the cover of Vogue. She was included in numerous group exhibitions, contributed to fashion, film and theater, and—along with her husband—founded Orphism, the art movement that seeks to depict simultaneous expressions of modern life, energy and movement through color. So as far as female artists go, now or then, Delaunay is certainly one of the more celebrated. And yet she is still unknown to most people. Go figure.

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July Fashion Flashback: Spring on a Twig

By the time this cover came out in July 1967, Vogue readers were well acquainted with Richard Avedon’s playful, inventive photography and eye-catching covers. Twiggy, of course, was the model of the moment, having been discovered just 18 months earlier. This portrait of the slender Brit in a turtleneck grass-green fur with a blue daisy drawn over her right eye, her left eye pancaked in frosty eyeshadow and black eyeliner, captures that quintessential dolly-girl vibe. Unsurprisingly, the shot has become an iconic image of the Sixties.

Avedon was a relatively new presence at Vogue. He had left Harper’s Bazaar the year before to follow Diana Vreeland (she switched teams in 1963) and work as the magazine’s staff photographer. Avedon soon became Vogue’s lead shooter, creating nearly every cover until Anna Wintour took the helm in 1989. For the July 1967 cover, fashion editor Polly Mellen hired Read More »

Fashion Flashback: Veruschka and Sant’Angelo Make History in the Desert


Believe it or not, there are days in the year where absolutely
nothing happened in fashion history (i.e. we weren’t able to dig something up). On those days we offer Fashion Flashbacks, the stories behind great layouts, people and covers from vintage magazines from this month, rather than from this day. And if you know about a great moment in fashion history that fell on this date, tell us about it!

You know that when a model literally faints during a photo shoot that the photographer is either a sadistic slave driver or girlfriend is working it. In Veruschka’s case for the now-legendary July 1968 shoot for Vogue, the photographer was her boyfriend at the time, Franco Rubartelli, and she was posing for his camera in the middle of Arizon’s Painted Desert—in fur. Finger pointers could turn an eye toward editor Diana Vreeland, a woman who never settled for mediocre and challenged her staff at Vogue to reach beyond the expected. The shoot in the desert was one such Vreeland inspiration: She envisioned the blonde glamazon standing in the brutal landscape wrapped in a kaleidoscope of textiles, none of which started as actual clothing. Vreeland figured her latest discovery, Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, a young stylist and accessories designer who had strived for years to get the attention of the editrix, was up for the job of creating something fabulous from nothing.

“We had nothing but some yards of fabric, some stones Read More »

July Fashion Flashback


Anyone with access to a large stash of vintage fashion magazines (thanks, public library system!) can imagine how difficult it would be to pick just one cover to highlight each month. But that’s our plan with monthly fashion flashbacks, posted on or around the first of the month. For July, this was especially challenging: Have you seen the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar for the month of July just through the 1960s? Nearly every one of them is by Richard Avedon and seems to be competing against the other to be more gorgeous than the one before and after. It’s an impossible task; across the boards they’re all mired in a dead heat of fabulousness.

So we went in another direction, a little further back to 1956, when Alexey Brodovitch was the art director at Harper’s Bazaar. With his Read More »

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