The letter of the day: V

Today I did something I haven’t done in a very long time. And, no, it wasn’t housework (though this could have been a contender). It wasn’t even writing fiction – though it should have been. No, this was all together more outrageous.

I read Vogue Australia.


Once upon a time, I read Vogue for a living. As Chief Sub, it was my job to read every word, every month, three or four times. To caption each picture, from the outside in, top to bottom. To know that Cameron Diaz was a girl (it was early in her career), that Lycra needed a TM symbol, that Collette Dinnigan was a 2-Ls, 2-Ts, 3-Ns kind of girl.


Those who know me well still wonder aloud how I ever found myself at Vogue. I wonder it myself. For a person whose sense of fashion stretches to basics and not much else, it was an education. Getting dressed every day was, I confess, a chore. Until I realised that everyone in the place had their own signature style. American Prep, Upmarket Goth, Chanel, 1960s Racer Girl, et al. Mine would be Basic. I took it, I owned it, I rocked it as best I could – not easy when you’re 25 with no cash and you’re getting dressed hungover most mornings.


I loved working at Vogue. We worked long hours but it was a lot of fun. How could it be anything else?


My focus was all on the words. The Fashion Office was a hallowed hall of gorgeousness, where I’d venture only occasionally to find someone to please give me caption information for the 10-page shoot due to go to press that night. It takes only five minutes on a magazine like that for some of the ‘glamour’ of working in fashion to fall away. Fashion assistants put in longer hours than CEOs and get out of bed for a lot less than $10,000 a day.

That said, working at Vogue puts you in a strange headspace. You think nothing of spending $500 on a pair of shoes when you earn half of that each week. You find yourself talking in the singular – The Pant, The Shoe, The Eye. The only place you really run into problems with that kind of thing is when you come to The Jean. It just doesn’t work. Jeans work only in pairs.


Flicking through today, I notice that some things have changed. Even shoes comes in pairs now. But much hasn’t. It’s still a magazine full of improbable clothes (of incredible expense) modelled by amazing looking women. The ‘real-life’ pages still feature tousled, honey-skinned beauties with immaculate pedigrees who do fabulous things and buy lots of shoes. Between lavish spreads of full-page photographs are type-heavy pages of well-written features, as well as those itsy-bitsy pages so beloved of designers the world over.

The Builder bought me the Vogue to take my mind off last Friday. It worked. For pure escapism, you can’t beat it. As a memory trip, it brought a smile to my face. And I’m left with a genuine desire to buy something that is not a black, long-sleeved T-shirt.