“September is the new January of fashion”, said Candy Pratts-Price, the former Fashion Director at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, in “The September Issue” (you remember it, it’s that classic documentary released in 2009 about the fashion industry and magazines). “This is the time when I change myself, this is the moment when I try to wear high heels again – cos’ that’s the look”, she said.
Did the landscape of fashion change in any way, in the past 10 years? How much and in what ways? In fact, by narrowing down the “funnel” and looking at magazines alone, did you notice that January magazines replaced, in terms of importance, those released in September?
Because, just in case you didn’t notice, the glossy magazines of this first month of the year are also the first ones of this decade. Concerning how representative they are, we’re about to find out… Fashion is supported and fueled by a new algorithm and what those few important magazines in the domain present announce the unrolling of the next season. The truly remarkable examples, which caught my eye, are below.
The Vogue US January edition had no less than 4 different covers, a quartet of maternity portraits, all immortalized by Annie Leibovitz. Stella McCartney is surrounded by her four children, a double premier (it is the first time a designer is featured on the cover of Vogue US and also the first time when McCartney allows for her two daughters and two sons to be, literally, in the spotlights). O second version of the cover features Cardi B, holding her little girl in her lap. Greta Gerwig holds in her arms, with infinite tenderness, Harold, her new-born son (on the fourth) and Ashley Graham protects and caresses her swollen womb, draped in an enlightening Oscar de la Renta golden dress.
The cover of January’s British Vogue edition is occupied by Taylor Swift in a Chanel jacket, which doesn’t seem like a revolutionary aspect at first. Just that it is: because the little Chanel jacket comes from the archives of the Chanel House. A Vogue cover is, after all, the equivalent of the most prestigious shop window, and presenting a vintage item – which readers cannot buy! – is not just an intentional fashion “declaration”, but also one with a cultural impact and scope. In the signed January editorial, Edward Enninful describes the cover as “a respectful model about how a sustainable version of luxury should look like”.
The Cosmopolitan UK made a daring step further: Jonathan Van Ness – the most popular of the four hosts of Queer Eye program and who identifies himself as non-binary – he is the first non-female gender celebrity who is featured on the cover of the magazine in the past 35 years.
Although she appeared for dozens of times on magazine covers and she’s a mega-celebrity, Beyoncé could have insisted to become the cover of September’s edition – her last Vogue US cover was in September 2018 -, but she preferred being the cover of Elle US for January’s edition. The photographs made by Melina Matsoukas, the director of Queen & Slim film and Lemonade’s video, accompany a generous interview, an interview that was made, in its own turn, with the occasion of Ivy Park brand launch. One of the dialog’s threads pays homage to Queen B, positioning her as the only and first Afro-American woman owning an athleisure brand in a proportion of 100%. And for a sports clothing brand, a glory moment in January is like a trampoline. January is the month when everybody makes or renews gym subscriptions, and then buy adequate attire.
The tradition of a September that marks the “new year in fashion” is the inheritance of an obsolete power structure. The days when the pages of those editions used to unravel images of the most beautiful fashion shows and photos of the most creative and sought-after creations are long gone. These days, every look belonging to seasonal collections emerge on Instagram in the millisecond the model placed her foot on the podium, 6 months before these creations are even produced. Fashion changed its rhythms and direction, passing from the bi-annual model to the very frequent “drops” (from limited editions created for a certain occasion up to cruise/resort collections and pre-fall collections, mini-collections spread along a season, from November until August). These last ones ended up composing the majority of what once was the retail of the autumn-winter season. The stylistic calendar is now dictated by events and life moments considered important by the consumers, in comparison to organizing it around a program that suits brands and retailers. By the way, January editions are launched around mid-December, just in time for another shopping session before Christmas and the New Year’s Eve…
Finally, the atmosphere of the beginning of a new year – the possibility of a body beautified through sport, detoxified through juicing and zero alcohol, the perspective of new beginnings, the energy of good intentions – harmonizes with fashion, as it integrates wellness directions, flirts with civic activism, makes bets with sustainability. In tandem with publishing January editions, all 26 chief-editors of international Vogues (US, UK, France, Italy, India, Australia, Russia, China, Germania, Taiwan, Portugal, Turkey, Spain, Mexico, Japan, Brazil, Ukraine, Thailand, Holland, Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong, plus the editions for Latin America and Arabian peninsula) co-signed a document type “mission intention” of Vogue values, signing themselves up to be “socially responsible, to represent social diversity in its integrity and become an important voice for finding solutions to the current global problems”. It sounds praiseworthy, but personally, I am skeptical about it…
As about September – a while ago branched directly to modern consumerism and copying the model of the academic year -, it seems dated, obsolete, conservatory. Instead, the darkest, vapid, dull and lacking joy month of the year in the calendar enjoyed a sensational makeover. January is, truly, in charge of the new year.