[Images taken as photographs of the August issue. Please click to enlarge].
Returning from a French wedding last week, I was desperate for something to read on the Channel Tunnel journey home – it may only be half an hour, but you can’t exactly look out the window and marvel at the view. Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to get my hands on some cool fashion a la Francais, I was pretty chuffed to see the Gallic version of Glamour magazine to be only one Euro away from my clutches, and decided to take a chance despite the fact that it’s not a picture book and this is not one of my best languages. However, I regularly plough through Vogue Italia and the forward-thinking Spanish publication Metal, so I hoped I’d have some vague understanding of the content.
Blissfully enough, it was quite an easy read and the fashion was very well presented. I was pleased to find that some of the features were innovative enough to skip the language barrier, but also the standard-fashion-writing barrier too (once you’ve read one trend piece on the weirdness of creeper shoes, you’ve pretty much read ’em all). One article in particular just leapt out at me for being original and very topical: the notion that modern man has embraced metrosexuality and hipster culture a little too much. According to the journalist, a man is now better off aligning himself to the heroes of classic masculinity, such as Little House on the Prairie’s Charles Ingalls. Vincent Cocquebert explores this shift of behaviour using his own insight and that of the woman on the street. Such is this revelation that Glamour named it ‘Syndrome of the Month’ (I’d love to know what the other contenders were). It’s refreshing that Ingalls the man idol isn’t a mindless macho brute, but a father and provider, which shows just how far we have come since the days of women being completely overpowered by the ‘stronger sex’.
And has there been a saturation of metrosexual behaviour in the 21st century? I’d say we’re pretty near a peak, considering that cardigans, moisturiser and man bags have become staples for former chavs, tough boys and goths. I’m not saying a style-conscious man is weak or weedy, but he will usually be a world away from the enforced social stereotype of a man who dreams in beer, loves football and runs around the park. It’s great that we’ve progressed from that, but some would say that men have become naval-gazing gamers and gadget-lovers who have neat Blackberry keypad nails and will always find an app, instead of a practical answer, for everything. I’d love to see more social commentary in this vein hitting British monthly glossies.
Another piece that caught my eye was an advertorial (an advertising campaign made to look like editorial content) for the Sephora cosmetics store, which gave women their horoscope via relevant products for each starsign. This was a very creative way to promote a business, whilst keeping the reader engaged. For the record, I got a hair product, as I’m a Pisces – I assume the connection was that I’m a water sign, therefore they’d expect me to spend a while in the shower. Anyway, it’s not often that advertorials get my approval – generally they’re about as subtle as a Jehovah’s Witness at your door – but this one was a worthy addition to the magazine itself.
So, what is the moral of the story from my foray into French publications? You should always take a chance on a magazine, even if it’s not in your mother tongue. From fashion shoots to product recommendations, there will be something to get your teeth into, and it won’t require a translator to get the gist of an article. It’s time to go international, folks.