Tarnished glossy editors and a dearth of petticoats

I'll take Anna Wintour's job -- as soon as she finishes her mud-wrestling and cancan binge.

Published June 4, 2001 7:36PM (EDT)

It's been a tumultuous few weeks in glossy-magazine land. Bonnie Fuller, the editor of Glamour is out; Self's Cindi Leive is in. Kate Betts, editor of Harper's Bazaar is out, and Marie Claire editor Glenda Bailey is taking over for Betts. That leaves two editors -- Bonnie Fuller and Kate Betts -- jobless; and two jobs -- top dog at Marie Claire and Self -- open.

A jaded observer might hazard a guess, based on the stunning lack of imagination in the fashion magazine industry, that perhaps Ms. Fuller could take over at Marie Claire, and Betts could head to Self, and all would be right with the glossy world. After all, the magazine industry loves to play musical chairs with its editors.

But perhaps, just once, someone might think outside the box and appoint a new kind of editor, just to stir things up. How about putting Dave Eggers, heartbreaking genius and editor of McSweeney's, in charge at Self? Or Katrina Heron, the former editor of Wired, in charge of Marie Claire? Think fashion spreads featuring wearable hardware; or envision the McSweeney's cut-ups taking on biceps and herbal supplements and topics like black being the new black.

I will nominate myself to fill Anna Wintour's Manolo Blahniks, once she gets the boot (it's sure to happen eventually, right?). If elected Vogue editrix, I promise I shall never inflict agony like the all-"Survivor" all-the-time issue that is currently gracing the magazine racks. Yes, not only is Vogue just about a year late to the party (Anna, darling? The second "Survivor" season ended four weeks ago, and everyone's already reality-TV'd out); but I would be shocked if the magazine's Park Avenue subscribers truly care about mosquitoes, freeze-dried food and the proper Blumarine strapless dress to wear when mud-wrestling. And what's this, an entire fashion spread about "Survivor" and not a single Buff?

Perhaps Vogue could bundle up all the issues that will be left on the racks and send them to participants in the upcoming reality TV show "Fear Factor," which will feature contestants strapped down in a pit crawling with 400 live rats. (Personally, I'd suggest a Helmut Lang turtleneck and some Chaiken leather pants for that challenge.)

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In other news, from the "truth is stranger than fiction" department, a group of visionary Swedish entrepreneurs is planning to launch a new "modern" version of the Bible featuring photographs of supermodels. Claudia Schiffer, for example, will portray Eve, and Markus Schenkenberg will play Adam. No word, as yet, who Gisele will be, but we're hoping for Mary Magdalene; and Kate Moss would clearly make a terrific Delilah. And what about Jesus? I'm thinking maybe, just maybe, a revival of Markie Mark. Helmut Newton could take the photos.

Said entrepreneur Gustaf-Wilhelm Hellstedt, "Most of the models, who will earn up to 10,000 pounds a day, will have their clothes on, but there will be some nudity because the Bible is very sensual and we are going to exploit that. We want to take the Bible off the dusty back shelf and put it on coffee tables." Or, more likely, underneath beds with the KY Jelly?

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Blockbuster period movies always seem to usher in a kind of fashion hysteria. Witness the current hubbub about this summer's period extravaganzas: "Moulin Rouge" and "Pearl Harbor."

"Moulin Rouge," with its stupendous fin de siècle cancan gowns, has already inspired not one, but three spreads from Vogue -- including a prerelease Nicole Kidman cover, a fashion layout featuring gowns inspired by the movie (and commissioned by Vogue), and pictures from the party (sponsored by Vogue) where those very gowns were auctioned to the highest bidders. Note to Ms. Wintour: We can't can't take anymore cancan.

Similarly, the dresses worn by Kate Beckinsale in (the otherwise execrable) "Pearl Harbor" are causing certain fashion writers to declare the return of the '40s look. Think circle pins, white gloves, frilly organza blouses and mid-calf length skirts: Grandma would be proud.

Alas, judging from a quick glance out at the streets, there doesn't seem to be much public interest in the revival of the cancan petticoat or the World War II-era nipped-in suit. Instead, America's copped the cheaper Hawaiian-print halter tops and fishnet tights -- also inspired by these movies. Ah, well. There's always Halloween.

By Janelle Brown

Janelle Brown is a contributing writer for Salon.

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