September's Marie Claire does this one thing that immediately endears me to its cause: the mag identifies the models in its three 10-page fashion stories! Each girl gets a teensy little Q&A - kind of like the ones in Playboy that tell you curvaceous Kristy's favorite color and college major - wherein we learn that Anna from Illinois once burst into tears on a shoot, Eva from Krnow dreams of being a lawyer, and Valerie from St. Petersberg would like to meet J.D. Salinger. Models! We're just…like…you? Let's investigate, after the jump.

Doing 20 editorial looks, solo, against a grey studio backdrop, with nary a prop in sight and no organizing principle to the clothes other than "Fall silhouettes!" probably approaches my idea of hell. You're not playing a character, you don't have an evocative setting, and there isn't even a particular mood or feel the editorial is intended to convey — it's just you and your basic posing repertoire, alone in a brightly lit box. No wonder Anna Rachford of Woodstock, IL, is sporting basically the same position and expression in three of the above shots; there's no story here. What unites this spread other than the fact that it's fall, and, yes, this might necessitate the donning of coats and knitwear? We see this editorial every season. It's the fashion equivalent of those insipid freshmen-oriented survey classes where the reading list is such a ragbag (you know, Middlemarch and Fielding and Frankenstein and Borges for good measure) that you wonder just what in hell the professor was thinking. Probably that delivering lectures that attained their mature form in 1973 is a hoot when you have tenure. And probably that an appreciation for literature is an admirable social grace suitable for the weekend delectation of young ladies' minds. I'm not much given to puffery in my novels and I like it even less in my fashion.

Oh, no, tights! Once I did a fall lookbook for an Asian client and we had to shoot two dozen some outfits in one day — and every single get-up came with a different pair of brightly colored tights. And, because the client's line was designed with its shorter-legged market in mind, the tights went up only about as far as my knees, and what with the quick changing and the many layers, I was already sweating from every pore since of course it was July, and I sensed even at the time that this epic struggle of Model v. Unyielding Spandex, times 24, was, even if I prevailed (and, you'll be glad to know, I did live to model another day!), going to become the stuff of panicked flashbacks. At one point there was an assistant stylist poised at each thigh, firmly yanking at the waistband of a pair of aubergine wool-blend tights while I sort of jumped up and down in place and the photographer's assistant tried to look like he wasn't peeping. Tights, oh God. You weren't there, man!

I have no idea what Anna's doing in that green psychedelic drum majorette getup, either. Sending imaginary semaphore for "Send Help Trapped In Photoshoot"? Directing the landings of nearby aircraft? Unseen shadow puppets? Let's chalk it up to studio daze and move on.

Eva Poloniová says that the hardest thing about modeling is "Wearing beautiful clothes without being able to keep them." Funny you should say so, Eva, given you've shimmied into a $3,040 Prada dress — and I'm guessing your paycheck for the edit was $100 or so for the day. Before agency commission, natch! Keep trawling those sample sales, darling. You never know.

This next story is all about female fashion icons who wore pants: for some reason, someone decided Meg Ryan belonged on the list with Marlene Dietrich and Diane Keaton, and, also for some reason, someone determined that a blonde Russian was qualified to impersonate every "iconic" woman who wore pants, ever. Nevermind; I kind of can't dislike the girl. Valerie Avdeyeva said her most memorable experience was posing on an Argentine glacier — cool! (There's nothing that drives me deeper into apoplexy than a model who gets to go to Morocco or Iceland or Papua New Guinea for an editorial who comes back and shrugs, "It was okay, I guess. The food was, like, really weird.") And Valerie parried back a stupid question about which celebrity she'd most like to meet with a cheery reference to the author of Franny and Zooey! Plus she said she couldn't function without her iPod and her eyelash curler — that's a practicality/frivolity ratio I can get behind. Even if she doesn't give me any Jane Birkin in this picture, it's not her fault Birkin was an incorrigible brunette.


Whoa. She eats candy bars. Valerie is officially new favorite model material!

Oh God. Janis Joplin sings a song called "Rose" — so we have to represent the (brunette!) hippie idol (in $1395 pants and a $2055 blouse!) swaying beatifically and staring at a prop rose? Weak.