On Magazines & Leith Clark
Girls and fashion magazines go hand in hand, right? So there's probably nothing too unusual, then, about the hundreds of glossies that I have diligently stacked, in chronological order, on my bookshelves and all over my bedroom floor. The first issue of Vogue I bought was the February 2007 issue; I vividly remember devouring it on a long car journey home from a dental appointment. Fendi pieces in fluro-pink mesh and Jil Sander's sunshine yellow shirts and sequinned skirts served a welcome distraction after the pain of having my first-ever filling — it was a day of firsts, I suppose — and I was transported to a world a million miles away from my nondescript life in the Yorkshire Dales, from which the only fashion knowledge I'd gained was brand awareness, i.e. I knew about Hunter, Barbour, Burberry, Aquascutum and Mulberry, and, well, that's about it.
OK, I'm lying slightly - I'd developed an interest in fashion prior to picking up Vogue, but I'm not exactly sure how or why. I faintly remember my granny giving me old copies of of Tatler to flip through and cut pictures out of. To me the ladies in Tatler were so elegant, and their pretty outfits looked even better once accessorised with glitter-glue and stuck next to pictures of puppies and cupcakes. Eventually I clocked on to the whole fashion thing, started 'borrowing' Nanna's Vivienne Westwood scarves and bought my first copy of Vogue.
Seven years later, I'm an underweight, chain-smoking, Diet Coke-drinking, flatform-wearing girl with body image issues, constant blisters and a pair of oversized glasses constantly weighing my nose down. Take from that what you will – all I'll say is that although there are as many pros as there are cons with women's magazines, when your brain hasn't formed properly, the cons often outweigh the pros.
I'm not necessarily saying that reading fashion magazines makes you hate yourself – for me, depression and anxiety issues already have those bases covered – but they definitely don't do any favours for your self esteem. Or to your bank balance, for that matter; who hasn't flicked through Elle's pages and suddenly needed a pair of shoes that, 5 minutes previously, they didn't know existed? By 'needed' I mean 'wanted', as in the classic fickle fashion-lover's quandary of having overdrawn your overdraft but yet feeling that you must buy the new 'must have' (read: fad) item lest you lose your cool factor overnight and spend the rest of your life wearing sweatpants and Uggs.
Most fashion magazines are like a bad boyfriend; they make you feel insecure, but at the same time you love them and, even if you do have to shut yourself away from them for a while, you always come crawling back in the end, wanting more. But then you meet a nice guy who doesn't treat you half as badly, and you question why you ever stuck around with that selfish prick for so long. And it's like that with magazines: once you find something smart, funny and aesthetically pleasing amongst a sea of shit, you don't look back.
Et voici, Violet: my latest magazine obsession.
Violet is the new brainchild of the incredible Leith Clark (my love for whom has no bounds so, yes, what I am writing is totally biased, but whatevs). It is a magazine for girls, made by girls, celebrating girls. And it is everything a fashion magazine should be, with minimal advertisements, intelligent writing by intelligent women, thought-provoking features and, of course, dreamy editorials.
Although I love the clothes and the styling in Violet, it was really all the writing that captured my attention. Until reading the magazine, I had no idea who Meghan Kelly was, but now I can safely say that she is brilliant; she contributed a few short stories to the magazine which I found really touching, as well as relatable, with their often painful realness. The best of these stories is the longest, How Far to Go, a story of a fading romance and the confused sort of love that most of us are probably familiar with. Clark seems to have a knack for scoring the most bizarrely brilliant artists, tastemakers and creative legends to feature in her magazines; because they weren't with 'the usual suspects' found in other fashion magazines, the interviews in Lula (Clark's last magazine baby, which she left to give birth to Violet) were always something I loved and, thankfully, Violet also provides an abundance of lengthy question-and-answer sessions with the sort of people who make you want to live your life more riskily and freely: Brit Marling, So Yong Kim and Molly Parkin are just some of the subjects interrogated within this debut issue's pages. Another reason to buy the magazine would be the extract from Hadley Freeman's latest work, Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies – this made me howl and I loved it so much that I downloaded the book on my Kindle as soon as I'd finished reading.
I could write a million more words about how A+++ beaut this magazines is, but I don't want to spoil it for you, so, yeah, go and buy it basically. I got mine from Magazine Shack. Kind of missing the days when R D Franks (R.I.P) was still alive and well, but I guess it's good that I can order obscure titles online now as I hardly go down to London any more.