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FEATURE: Vogue Goes Model-free for ‘Real Issue’

The Verse’s Rosie Smith tells us what she thinks of the Vogue ‘Real Issue’ for November.

This month, Vogue released their first ever ‘Real Issue’ – named so because, as the title suggests, nothing in the magazine was photographed on models.

The ‘Real Issue’ concept was developed when Vogue collaborated with the Netflix series The Crown, and found difficultly getting the sample clothes needed for the actors. Because the shoot in question wasn’t a conventional shoot with professional models – who not only know how to work clothes and fit traditional sample sizes of American size zero, two and four, but also know how to work the camera – the magazine had to think outside the box when it came to the collaboration. In the ‘Real Issue’, Vogue rise to the challenge furthermore, highlighting the common issue in the fashion industry of major fashion houses’ wariness of model-free features.

In the ‘Real Issue’, Vogue display their knowledge of how fashion can be interpreted differently for everyone – from Kate Moss to the person working in the off-license round the corner. The use of regular people shows that the average person doesn’t have to be a model to look good in the clothes, enforcing the idea that the consumer doesn’t adapt to the changing trends of fashion; the consumer makes fashion adapts to them, as a way of visually presenting each individual’s personality.

That being said, the cover star for the November ‘Real Issue’ is Emily Blunt. While the positioning of an actress on the cover of a fashion magazine is commonplace (particularly with the release of The Girl on the Train, in which Blunt is the female lead), Vogue has faced backlash for featuring her as the cover star on the ‘Real Issue’ as some believe that an impeccably styled actress on the cover is not a true representation of a ‘real woman’. Personally, I have been a fan of Blunt since seeing her in The Devil Wears Prada (great movie!), however I have to agree with this stance. In short, Emily Blunt may be known for playing relatable women, but that doesn’t necessarily make her one.

Flicking past the cover, however, and you notice all the individuals featured in the magazine are well-known in their own right – from artists, creative directors, writers and chefs – all dressed in the usual fashionable fares by the creme de la creme of the business: Dolce & Gabbana, Stella McCartney, Hermes and JW Anderson. The use of these individuals aims to promote Vogue as becoming more ‘real’. Judging this issue, I believe that Vogue are definitely progressing into closer portraying the ‘real’ woman, with a look and a lifestyle that is more accessible than the glossy, perfectly-primped models we’re used to. However, I do not believe they are quite there yet. Within the issue, the featured artist Phoebe Collings-James admits to buying her first piece of Burberry when she was a teenager. I wouldn’t say this is relevant for all teenage women (I’m sure as students we can all attest that generally Zara is the dream and Primark the reality!).

Furthermore, despite the fact the individuals in the issue are not professional models, they have still been made up by a professional, styled, photographed and edited by a professional. The images have gone through the traditional Vogue route, perfectly lit, impeccably styled and no doubt photoshopped (even if just a little). Ultimately, I’m not sure the title of this ‘Real Issue’ of Vogue is honest to the finished product – and can definitely be criticised as not being all that real – but it is certainly a step in the right direction and a good move for the fashion industry as a whole. Where Vogue leads, the rest of the industry usually follows – hopefully that’s true in this case too.

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