Big is Beautiful

Warnings and suggestions for readers of Vogue's huge September issue

By Larry Smith
Published September 19, 1996 9:49AM (EDT)

My toe hurts. It hurts because I stubbed it -- rammed it right into the September issue of Vogue. I was in the bathroom, trying to make my way to the shower -- wasn't even in the kitchen, where we all know most household accidents occur -- when bam! I jammed the big toe into the latest Vogue, which my roommate apparently left on the floor for toilet reading. Sure, you may be asking, just how can a harmless little women's magazine make a toe bleed? If you don't know then you obviously haven't seen this monstrosity, the cover of which declares: "700 pages of fall fashion." It's actually 708 -- 708 pages! -- and I am here to tell you that it shouldn't be left carelessly around the house.

My friend Nicole was another Vogue fashion victim. Nicole's what you call "low maintenance," so I was a little surprised to see her, dressed casually in a blue sweatshirt (Champion) and ripped jeans (Gap), with the Vogue on her person. She caught my wandering eye, and, before I could comment, explained: "Look, I never buy the magazine, but you gotta buy the fall issue. You just gotta." Before we took the conversation further, her eyes fluttered and rolled and she collapsed in my arms. She had fainted, wiped out from carrying Vogue around all morning.

As an American, I had to ask: Where will the madness stop? What options do we have in the face of such a menace? The answer occurred to me almost immediately. Rather than fight it -- which would be futile, admit it -- it's best to embrace Vogue's encyclopedia of fall fashion. Let's say yes to Vogue, and count our blessings, as well as the many things we can do with a 708-page magazine.

We could:

Send it to Iraq: With the President trying to ban chemical weapons, Vogue is the perfect pulp-and-paper antidote to chemical warfare. When the frontline troops march over to enemy territory carrying the popular fashion issue, the opposition will think the sharing of the fall line is a peace offering. Then -- swack! -- we break open the pages and fume those rat bastards with 708 scented pages -- take some CK1, Saddam! -- made in the US of A. They'll never know what hit them.

Get the free panties: As the ad and perforated insert explain on page 409, the Barely There seamless panty is not only "barely there," but almost free. Who can pass up free panties? All you need to do is send $1.50 to Connecticut and a very nice man will send you a nice pair of panties. The buck and a half covers postage and (heh, heh, heh) handling. Like the September issue of Vogue, one presumes the panties come wrapped in protective plastic.

Count the puppies: On the cover, models Kate Moss and Amber Valletta are holding three very nice puppies, with two more in the frame once you open up the cover flap. That makes five. How many puppies are there in the September issue of Vogue? It would be a lot of fun to try to count them all.

Do the math: With 708 pages to work with, you could write one Russian novel and still have room enough left over to squeeze in the adapted screenplay; pen "Pride and Prejudice" twice and squeeze in a long interview with Alicia Silverstone; fit in "Backlash" with room for 156 one-page op-eds on female cadets.

Do some more math: This one, at $3.50, cost just 50 cents more than the regular $3 Vogue. That's two pages for each penny. The August issue had just 288 pages -- more than a penny a page. That's a lousy deal. And there were no puppies!

Weigh it: At about four pounds, 1 1/4" high, it takes 30 Vogues to make one Kirsty Hume (page 656), 120 pounds, 5' 11."

Read it: Anna Wintour's "Letter from the Editor" -- which we don't encounter, thanks to the sea of ads, until page 38 -- portends that fall will bring more fur coats, which "have made a comeback for fall and winter -- but not the heavy, bulky mink your mother used to wear." As if.

Read the ads: On page 586, I found out from the always prescient Gianni Versace that "Being sexy today doesn't mean exposing a lot of skin. You can be sexy in long sleeves and a turtleneck if it is cut right." Fellas take note: That's not just good copy, it's an organizing principle.

The final lesson in 708 or less easy to read pages? It's one we knew all along: size matters.

Larry Smith

Larry Smith has written about his and other people's lives for ESPN magazine, the New York Times, Teen People, and other publications.

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