Of all the women's 'service' magazines, Marie Claire seems the most well-meaning. Unlike its competitors, the magazine has none of those Jekyll & Hyde-type "Love Your Body... But Lose 10 Lbs. Fast" sorts of stories. No ridiculous tips on incorporating foodstuffs into sex play. And it has a global perspective often missing among its competitors (in the August issue the magazine reports on the disturbing trend of Western women who 'outsource' their pregnancies to women on the Indian subcontinent). But the good intentions only go so far — especially when fashion editors and prickly advertisers are involved!
Take the magazine's regular front-of-book feature 'Shopping Deconstructed' — seen at right — which purports to explain to readers why being fashionable costs so damn much. The August installment breaks down a pair of Diesel 'Rancho Deluxe' jeans, presenting an insider's view of the stitching, fabric, and little details that make the 'Rancho Deluxe', so, well, luxe. (Check out the video accompaniment to the feature here; is it just us or does shopping editor Zoe Glassner get a slightly-scary second-degree from Marie Claire's editor in chief, Joanna Coles?) The implication of 'Shopping Deconstructed' is that, with a few well-placed call-outs, Marie Claire can prove there's a good reason why anyone should want — nevermind spend — over half a grand on a pair of denim pants. "Rust-colored ferric oxide lends a patina of bygone luxury to the inside lining" explains one call-out. "Each all-metal (no nickel) zipper tooth is polished by hand" says another.
Well, congratulations to Diesel designers for their unabashed creativity — yes, we own a few pairs! — but honestly, so what? Fashion editors can gush about handiwork and "airdrying" and "four-hour" washes and "antique" treatments until they turn blue in the face. Doing so still doesn't mean — or prove — anything. The problem remains that women's magazine editors who purport to "serve the reader" often do exactly the opposite, even with stories as seemingly benign but inherently dishonest as 'Shopping Deconstructed'. In fact, due to their fear of taking a stand against expensive shit, editors send a tacit message of approval to advertisers that they can continue to push overpriced consumer goods down everyone's throats. Because when the majority of the fashions featured in a magazine fall on the outrageous end of the price scale — and yes, Marie Claire shows some "cheaper" jeans in a denim feature in the same issue, although the average price of those jeans is still a whopping $153 — that majority becomes the new "normal". And yet there's nothing normal about $550 jeans (o $153 jeans, really) no matter what Marie Claire editors, assorted Hollywood style 'icons', or the executives at Diesel, Habitual, or Miss Sixty would have us to believe. Maybe it's time for magazines like Marie Claire to just drop the charade altogether and subtitle their fashion features "For Average Household Incomes Of $100,000 And Up". At least then they'd be honest to readers and keep the class-conscious luxury advertisers happy at the same time.
The Masthead With Marie Claire: Episode 14 [MarieClaire]