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Silvie Koang FAD Profile: Not Vogue Monday, April 29, 2013 At FAD, we often feature Vogue, but are also mindful of mass media framing. In Fall 2010, Carine Roitfeld explained her editing techniq... 5

FAD Profile: Not Vogue



At FAD, we often feature Vogue, but are also mindful of mass media framing. In Fall 2010, Carine Roitfeld explained her editing technique for Vogue Paris as “YOU ARE VOGUE, OR NOT VOGUE.” In 2011, an anonymous figure under the name "Steve Oklyn" launched a blog with the idea of NOT VOGUE. In the past two years, Steve has been bringing the fashion system into full light. Here is an brief interview with Fashion Art Daily.

“NOT VOGUE” is a name from contrast. So to begin, how would you describe “Vogue”? The magazine presents a perfected dream world, a forever aspirational decadence in which power collides with bohemian seduction, all in a way that is relevant to the now…but how?
I would describe the current globalized VOGUE brand as a network for consumer control. A fashion network built with one operative purpose: addictive consumption. How it ensures control is through a tightly guarded series of rules referred to as style and a tightly organized hierarchy of rewards for obeying and promoting the guardians [Newhouse's-Arnault's-Pinault's...] ironclad control of those rules and hierarchies. I believe repressive is the clearest description of the editorial consequence when referring to VOGUE. That is also a definition of Anna Wintour's role and source of her contrived influence.


Following Guy Debord, “what appears is good,” Vogue appears good to most. It is the ultimate fashion authority, always already exempt from critique. You magically expose the fault lines. What are they?
As long as the guardians are operating at full strength which they have been since 2000. They have built a global system of fashion mythology that they, and only they control. The guardians are fully aware of the current lack of relevance of these myths. These myths protect their artificial system of good taste. Their secret society of definitions and histories is written by the guardians and so far can only be altered by the guardians.

The system of review is not truly built for critique but for product endorsement and consumer control. The world of trends is a completely false construct that is there for one reason propaganda for the sake of an endless cycle of irrelevant consumerism. "IT" products are just a cover for a fashion addicts one fleeting moment of painful pleasure. A hit that endlessly but with diminishing returns has to be satisfied over and over again.

The fault lines are a purchased sense of power [advertising budgets-event sponsorships-artist collaborations and global ambassadors] plus the guardians false sense that they are the guiding leadership of societal power. Pay to play is not power but if that is the only sanctioned fashion industry process then it becomes power. Currently the weakest of fault line narratives is the young tastemaker. The guardians are baby boomers and
older. They have begun to use their children and grandchildren to retain their false sense of eternal youth and influence. To extend this fabricated influence their progeny are repackaged as tastemakers. Acting as global agents of irrelevant consumerism. Remember rule number one: they own and control the media to own and control the message. A question. Who would Andy Warhol be besties with The Kardashians or The Roitfelds? Just posing this question exposes a major fault line.

If Vogue is a dream, is Not Vogue a dystopia?
I view VOGUE as a dystopia and NOT VOGUE as a possible way out of the intellectual dead end offered by VOGUE. NOT VOGUE believes in the creative and regenerative power of the individual and in the right of informed free speech. That seems from the current controlled state of dialog called SOCIAL 2.0 like a dream. Dystopia is really a world of consensus as is fashion. A world where we are all reduced to LIKE or HATER. A world of BEING IN and MUST-HAVES.  Speaking one's mind in many situations is now social and professional suicide.

You profile fashion’s power players. Are they consciously playing?
In no way are fashion's power player's consciously playing NOT VOGUE. What they are doing is living as if the world is Karl Lagerfeld's beloved 18th century saloniste filled society. They are so sure of their power and superiority which includes artistic superiority-intellectual superiority-social superiority and control of the history and creation of the history of society and good taste that they are living within a bubble of their own creation. Being outside of their bubble NOT VOGUE can review the rules, the hierarchies and history past-present and future. By reviewing I mean opening up the conversation and introducing new points-of-view including new historical readings and relationships which hopefully allow for a deeper understanding of current fashion events. Subsequently each of us can decide what is relevant to us and not what is deemed relevant by the guardians. The fashion-art-society media has a single purpose which is product propaganda and societal enchantment. Not since John Fairchild's days at WWD has real critique of fashion and fashion society existed. Many of today's fashion reports are composed by fifth columnists. That realization was the beginning of the NOT VOGUE project.


You have exceptional visual talent for selecting images. You write haiku critical commentary. Who are the artists and thinkers that have influenced your method?
NOT VOGUE algorithm: James Brady [created PAGE SIX & W Magazine [plus] John Fairchild [created IN and OUT + "fashion victim" at WWD and his alias for Countess Louise J. Esterhazy [foretelling the demise of high society] [plus] Truman Capotes's LA COTE BASQUE [plus] a private formula of post-WWII intellectual anarchists and artistic insurrectionists.

If you were approached to edit Vogue, for a radical rebrand of course, would you? Be honest.
It would be amazing to redesign the brand dna of VOGUE but in a sense that has already happened it is called NOT VOGUE.

If you were approached to reveal your identity in Vogue, would you? Be honest.
I would never reveal Steve Oklyn's identity in VOGUE. Who he-she or they are is not relevant. Anonymity is more powerful and interesting intellectually than visibility.

I love that you are anti-establishment, so Daumier. But isn’t critique also love?
Critique is a love for the free exchange of ideas and opinions without any fear of penalty or reprisal.

You do not have advertisers and you refer to yourself as a freelance outlaw. What is hoped to be gained by counter-culture blogging?
Are you referring to all counter-culture blogging? If so I cannot answer that question. If you are asking what is to be gained by the NOT VOGUE project than the answer is to reveal how truly outmoded the people-the strategies-processes and rewards which comprise the core of VOGUE's source of power are and at best exist as trivial entertainment. There are enormous financial consequences for both the guardians and for their globalized consumers. by opening up the myths to democratic review. NOT VOGUE represents counterculture. Hence no advertisers VOGUE represents over-the-counter culture.


What is the ultimate goal of a power critique?
In a democracy, power needs to be questioned and critiqued continuously or it becomes a dictatorship. NOT VOGUE's logo design states what its editorial stance is in clear visual terms.

Doesn’t fashion swallow all its critique by embracing every point of view, while simultaneously having moved on to the next one?  It balances caring with not caring at all. You seem to care.
Very true regarding the fashion industry taking possession of any and all moments of creativity and moving on. If the current fashion world mythology begins with Diana Vreeland authoring in 1963 the narrative she titled YOUTHQUAKE which just celebrated it's 50th birthday then the VOGUE narrative of ever renewable youth is the key storyline they endlessly use for consumer control. Since 2000 I have been searching for the first narrative of the 21st century pertaining to style and I have not found one convincing enough. The past 13 years have been a cycle of repetitive nostalgia.

NOT VOGUE was created from a sense of boredom, frustration and disbelief that VOGUE could still keep going month to month on strategies and myths that have been devoid of any meaning since the last model walked down the runway at Marc Jacobs "grunge" collection for PERRY ELLIS in 1992. Hedi Slimane please note and also the PR office at SAINT LAURENT Paris that grunge is a Seattle attitude and not a Los Angeles expression. There truly is nothing called California grunge. That is exactly the delusional force of the fashion guardians and their armies. Seattle becomes Los Angeles to support Hedi Slimane's grand fashion meta-narrative. In the end history is just a tool of control whether it is the history of fashion or the history of the world.

Fashion cares to be taken seriously and does not care to be told that in it's current state of decline it has no lasting cultural impact.

I care that the street retain its originality and power over brands. The exact opposite of what the current global consumer has been lead to believe which is that brands have supernatural powers.
When an original idea loses all meaning then it becomes fashion. Steve Oklyn

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