Vogue Women
Georgina Howell
(Thunder's Mouth Press)
Remember how those models in Vogue used to look? Distant, cool, a bit snooty. And what do they look like now? Well, distant, cool, a bit snooty --- but sometimes right angry, as if, maybe we shouldn't be gazing at them with such fixity.

In this volume of 174 pages we have perhaps a hundred pictures out of the pages of Vogue, or at least from their collection --- both color and black-and-white. The whole has been divided into ten rather arbitrary subsections --- "royalty," "society girls," "muses," "stars," "waifs," "icons" among others. We get two shots each of Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana and other royalty. Queen Mary --- not the ship but the Queen Mother --- looks, as always, dour, as if the camera were better off somewhere out of her royal face. Sarah Bernhardt seems quite billowy, Grace Kelly looks quite merry, Julie Christie appears hungry, and Twiggy looks to be rather wan. Twiggy is listed here as a "waif," as is Mia Farrow, see above. Robert Penn Warren called it "that famished look." Penelope Tree, also a waif, looks like she just got out of sixth grade homeroom.

There are some surprise appearances. There's Queen Elizabeth, not the ship but Her Majesty, looking like a windblown figure out of the Pre-Raphaelites. Since this is Vogue Women, the only men allowed, except a couple of pashas (and dogs popping out of Nena's car) are royalty, or what's left of it --- the Duke of Windsor frowning out of a Gothic window, next to the toughest Vanity Fair woman of them all, and Prince Charles, aged 11 months, being peered at lovingly by Princess Elizabeth. Caroline of Monaco is allowed one tux-dressed male, but all they give to Marilyn Monroe is a sheet. Stella Tennant appears with a ring in her navel, and Barbara Streisand sports a hat left over from the Cavaliers, or is it the Roundheads? Princess Anne gets a horse, and Marlene Dietrich a tutu.

There is a set to all this. No uglies please. No smiles, either; well, maybe five or six --- the best being awarded to Shirley McLain, or Diana Vreeland, off there to the right. No rags, nor clothes from Target (pronounced, for purposes of this volume, in the style of the French, "Tar-SHAY,") although Mother Teresa's head-cloth (what's she doing here?) looks simple but, somehow, fashionable. They put her on the same page as Margaret Thatcher who looks just like she ate a bug.

The text is by Georgina Howell, a Vogue lady --- both in England and in the U.S. Most of it is filler stuff ("The First World War had changed the role of women, giving them jobs and independence..." "Both wars gave women extraordinary confidence, and the periods that followed --- the 1920s and the 50s --- were eras of extreme and exuberant fashion changes.") However we will have to give her a prize for a one line haiku that appears on the Library of Congress page, a nine word statement that may mean everything about High Fashion. Or nothing:

    The moral right of the author has been asserted.


--- Lolita Lark

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